Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Malala Yousafzai speech in full at the U.N.

Malala spoke. Muslims, please listen

It was fitting indeed that Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations during the first third of Ramadan. The month’s first 10 days are regarded as the days of God’s mercy.
While her powerful speech left an indelible mark on the world, her words served as a powerful reminder to Muslims worldwide about mercy, the fundamental tenet of their religion. She began her speech with the invocation of God the most Merciful, and it was masterfully woven throughout her brief but eloquent discussion of five important themes: inclusiveness, non-violence, forgiveness, education and female self-reliance.Malala reminded us that mercy is at the heart of the message preached by the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus and the Buddha. This serves as a powerful rejoinder against those who preach violence between faiths. It should provide impetus to the silent majority to take an assertive stand against the hatred that threatens to tear apart society’s very fabric. She invoked the names of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, reminding Muslims to look beyond their own sphere to the vast expanse of universal principles embodied by the many rich strands of humanity. That she acknowledged Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan and a Shiite, should give special pause considering the dangerous Sunni-Shia schism that threatens to inflame tensions in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world. And she reminded us that the most profound changes have occurred not through armed jihad, but principled non-violence, as embodied by Gandhi, Bacha Khan (an ethnic Pashtun who mounted non-violent opposition to the British Raj in India) and Mother Teresa. History will add Malala’s name to this illustrious list of individuals who see beyond the immediacy of revenge, reaching deep into the recesses of the heart to forgive one’s enemies. She told the world that she learned compassion from Mohammed (the Prophet of Mercy) and forgiveness from her parents. This, too, serves as a stark reminder to Muslims about the importance of forgiveness and compassion, considering the tumult in so many Muslim societies. She then reminded us of the supreme importance of knowledge. During Ramadan, as Muslims spend more time with the Koran (literally, “The Reading”), we are reminded about the importance of knowledge and literacy in building individuals, societies and civilizations. Malala reiterated the call of another courageous Pakistani woman, Mukhtar Mai, who was gang-raped as part of a twisted tribal custom. Like Malala, Ms. Mai called for more education (including for the children of those who attacked her), emphatically stating: “I want to kill illiteracy.” It’s high time for Muslim societies to realize that their most vital asset isn’t oil or arms, but people. Investment in education pays off. It also threatens those who seek to control others. Knowledge is power, and the powerful know it. Finally, Malala said what so many women have felt instinctively: “We will do it for ourselves” – an echo of the classic Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox anthem. This is a challenge to those who wish to control women, who see women as mere children in need of male guardianship. It is also a challenge to Muslim women to take stock of their potential, take charge of their own agency and loosen the reins of dependency. Malala has provided the world with inspiration through her example. Let us follow in her footsteps, and replace weakness with strength, fear with courage, and hopelessness with power in our own lives. Imagine the difference we can make.

Malala's Quotes !!!

homeyra - mahtabe eshgh

Clinton says future of voting law in jeopardy

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the future of the Voting Rights Act is in "real jeopardy" following the Supreme Court's decision striking down a portion of the law, telling a prominent organization of black women that Congress should act to preserve "fairness and equality" in the nation's voting system. The former secretary of state was feted with chants of "Run, Hillary, Run," as she concluded her 30-minute remarks to nearly 14,000 members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, an historic black women's organization celebrating its 100th anniversary. Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the Supreme Court's decision "struck at the heart" of the landmark law and warned that it could undermine Americans' most fundamental rights. "Unless Congress acts, you know and I know, more obstacles are on their way," Clinton said, walking freely on stage instead of delivering her speech from a podium. "They're going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, working people, minority people to be able to do what we should take for granted." A divided Supreme Court threw out a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act in June, stripping the government of its best way to prevent voting bias — the requirement that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mostly in the South, get Washington's approval before changing the way they hold elections. The decision has been criticized by civil rights groups who contend it could undermine voting rights in upcoming elections. Clinton made no mention of any future political plans, saying she intends to promote early childhood development, the rights of women and girls around the globe and economic development in her new role in her family's presidential foundation. In a nod to the sea of women wearing crimson and cream, the organization's colors, Clinton quipped that "in mathematics, delta means change. I think that's pretty fitting." But her speech emphasized the importance of voting rights for black Americans, who supported Barack Obama in large numbers during their Democratic primary campaign in 2008 and in his re-election last year. Black voters have long supported her husband, President Bill Clinton, and would be a key voting bloc if the former first lady sought the presidency in 2016. "I want to make sure that in the next election and the next election and the next and every one after that, people line up to vote and they vote regardless of those who may not want to count their vote or acknowledge their right to vote," Mrs. Clinton said. She cited her work with civil rights leader Dorothy Height, recalled attending a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a young woman and noted the work of the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a prominent member of the sorority. Clinton said the issue of voting rights resonated after she attended a congressional hearing on the issue with Tubbs Jones in Cleveland following the 2004 elections. "The idea that in the 21st century African-Americans would wait in line to vote for 10 hours while whites in an affluent precinct next door waited just 10 minutes, or African-Americans would receive fliers telling the wrong time and wrong day to exercise their constitutional rights," Clinton said. "That is not the America we would expect or the America we would want for our children." Clinton opened her remarks by offering prayers for the family of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed last year, and "with every family who loves someone who is lost to violence." She said the week's developments brought "deep, painful heartache" to many Americans. "No mother, no father, should ever have to fear for their child walking down a street in the United States of America," Clinton said. It was her first public comments on the case since George Zimmerman's acquittal in the Martin case. The Justice Department has said it's considering whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges after Zimmerman's acquittal. Obama met with members of the sorority in the Oval Office earlier in the day, including former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio.

The Egyptian coup is a warning to Turkey – but will Erdoğan listen?

Like the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdoğan's AK party has alienated opponents. Ennahda in Tunisia shows a way forward for democratic Islamists
Egypt's coup was not just a major shock for Mohamed Morsi, but also for the Middle East's most successful Islamist party: Turkey's AK party. When news of the Egyptian army's deposing of Morsi broke, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, cut short his holiday on the Aegean coast and convened a crisis meeting of senior ministers. Over the following days Erdoğan strongly condemned the coup, calling it the "killer of democracy and the future" and referring to Egypt's "so-called administration". Why does the coup matter so much to Erdoğan's AK party? One problem is that the Egyptian coup upsets the AKP's vision of exporting its brand of populist democratic Islamism throughout the Middle East. The AKP saw the Islamist parties that were elected after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as following its lead, and cemented this connection with aid – including training and equipment for Tunisia's police and a $1bn loan to Egypt. Erdogan has cultivated an impressive profile in the Middle East, and now tweets in Arabic more often than in Turkish. Meanwhile, Morsi held up the AK party as the model for a democratising Arab world in his address to the party's congress last autumn. Erdogan's role as self-appointed mentor chimed with the AK party's "neo-Ottoman" approach to foreign policy that positioned Turkey as a regional power. The AKP also downplayed the scale of popular opposition to Morsi, and presented the coup as a plot hatched by the Egyptian generals. And it used the coup as a metaphor to discredit Turkey's Gezi Park protest movement. Some drew a direct connection: Hatam Ete of the pro-AKP thinktank SETA tweeted that "what was attempted in Turkey has succeeded in Egypt". Such conspiracy theories are the legacy of years of oppression of Turkish and Egyptian Islamists by the military-backed secular establishments. But the problem for the AKP and the Muslim Brotherhood is that their paranoid style is now losing its resonance outside their bases. The narrative of victimhood stopped attracting broad sympathy once they moved from persecuted opposition to power. The uncomfortable truth the AKP does not want to accept is that the massive protests that preceded the coup represented a broad-based rejection of Morsi's policies. It should acknowledge this fact, and recognise that it was not political Islam the protesters rejected. Although many of the individual protesters are hostile to political Islam, others are Islamists. Neither do the Gezi Park protesters want to exclude Islamism from Turkish politics. What both movements reject is an aggressive majoritarian understanding of democracy, according to which the election winner takes all and imposes his agenda on the rest of society. The protest movements, by contrast, insist that vibrant opposition is as important a part of democracy as an elected government. The protesters' key demand was to be taken seriously and listened to. The demonisation of opposition as the work of mysterious foreign forces, by both the AK party and the Muslim Brotherhood is therefore not just a misdiagnosis of the problem, it is the problem. Tunisia shows a different way forward for democratic Islamists. The Islamist Ennahda party, elected in Tunisia after the first revolution of the Arab spring, has also publicly opposed the Egyptian coup. But despite the similarity between Tunisia and Egypt, the coup is less threatening in Tunis than in Ankara. Some of Ennahda's opponents have formed a tamarod (rebel) campaign in imitation of Egypt's, but have had limited success. Unlike Morsi, Ennahda has not attempted to use a narrow poll victory to implement an aggressively partisan agenda, instead governing in coalition with two centre-left secular parties, Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic. The relative success of Ennahda, despite potentially divisive disagreements over the place of Islam in the constitution, shows the value of this inclusive approach. The dismissal of opposition as unpatriotic, and the presentation of political struggle as a zero-sum conflict between Islamism and secularism, adopts the narratives of the old regimes in both Turkey and Egypt, but with the roles reversed. Political Islam remains a powerful political force with a large constituency. However, the large, legacy Islamist parties face trouble if they attempt to use their plurality of votes to steamroller opposition. A common thread running through not just the Arab revolutions but recent protest movements worldwide is the demand for a plural political sphere. If democratic-Islamist parties are to avoid alienating their opponents, they must respond to this.

Bangladesh: Nation’s expectations fulfilled

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed on Wednesday said the nation’s desire and expectations have been fulfilled through the convictions of war criminals. The international crimes tribunals have delivered the verdicts after examining relevant documents and evidence in a transparent manner, he said adding there is no scope to raise any questions over the transparency and acceptability of the trials. He came up with the remarks while speaking to reporters at his secretariat office after the ICT-2 sentenced Jamaat-e Islami’s Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed to death for his crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. The law minister said the tribunals have tried the accused maintaining international standard. Replying to a question whether the president’s clemency power would be applicable to war crimes convicts, Shafique Ahmed said there is no scope for the president to pardon war criminals as per international conventions. “Although the president of our country has power to pardon any convict, I feel that the president will not exercise the power to give clemency to the war crimes convicts considering all the relevant aspects,” he added. Replying to another question, the minister said the chief prosecutor will decide about filing an appeal with the Supreme Court against a tribunal verdict that sentenced former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam to 90 years’ imprisonment for his crimes against humanity in 1971.

Bangladesh: Jamaat-e-Islami's crimes against humanity. The verdict on Ghulam Azam

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)-1 finally delivered the much awaited verdict against Ghulam Azam (91), the main accused in the sensational trial who was the chief of the East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971, for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War that year. The court, following a strenuous legal procedure, sentenced him to 90 years of prison terms. The court awarded him the prison terms on consideration of his advanced age and physical condition. Earlier, the tribunal indicted Ghulam Azam on five charges on 61 counts of crimes including incitement for genocide, torture and plots to thwart the independence of Bangladesh. ICT found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of all the crimes and awarded the punishment. He will serve the prison terms one after another until his death. Not surprisingly, both prosecution and defence lawyers expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict – the prosecution felt dismayed as he was not awarded capital punishment though found guilty on all charges; the defence lawyers rejected it immediately saying they would challenge it in an appeal to the higher court for his acquittal. Centering the verdict, the country once again plunged into sporadic violence. Islamic Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami had called for total shut-down of the country on Monday which led to unfortunate deaths of some people in clashes between Jamaat supporters and the police. Unhappy with the verdict they called for a shut-down on Tuesday as well. Meanwhile, various student fronts of the country expressed their dissatisfaction over the ICT verdict as it did not award Ghulam Azam the death sentence, and called for a total shut-down of the country on Tuesday, which again led to deaths and destruction across the country. The atrocities committed by Jamaat-e-Islami and its cohorts in 1971 constitute the most tragic chapter in the history of the nation. The scale of the genocide, and the loss in terms of human life and property had overwhelmed the entire world. The trial and punishment of those found guilty of taking part in the atrocities were therefore legitimate demands of the nation. With the verdict of Ghulam Azam delivered, one phase of the process has come to an end. It now remains to be seen that the pending cases of crimes against humanity are rounded off so that the dark and ominous shadow hovering over the nation for the last 43 years is dispelled for ever.

Bangladesh: ''Jamaat-e-Islami's Terrorist Mojahid gets death penalty''

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 (ICT-2) on Wednesday sentenced death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid for his involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. Five out of seven charges, including genocide, murder and complicity in atrocities committed during the war of independence, have been proved against the Jamaat leader Mojahid, the tribunal said. The three-member tribunal, led by Justice Obaidul Hassan, delivered the verdict at 12:45pm on the war crimes charges after reading out the 37-page summary verdict. Immediately after the verdict, prosecution lawyers expressed their satisfaction at the death penalty awarded to Mojahid. But the defense said they are dissatisfied at the conviction and indicated that they will appeal to the Supreme Court for justice. ICT-2 started reading out the 209-page verdict on Jamaat-e-Islami top leader Mojahid after he was taken to tribunal around 10:00am. This is the sixth verdict of the two tribunals on the war crimes committed during the liberation war in 1971. And it is the fourth judgment for International Crimes Tribunal-2, since it was set on March 22, 2012. Earlier on June 5, the tribunal kept the Mojahid case as CAV (Curia Advisari Vult, a Latin legal term meaning verdict would be delivered anytime). Earlier, the ICT-2 sentenced former Jamaat member Abul Kalam Azad, also known as Bachchu Razakar, who is still in hiding, to death on January 21, Jamaat assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Molla to imprisonment for life term on February 5 and Jamaat leader Mohammad Kamaruzzaman to death on May 9. The other tribunal, the ICT-1, on Monday awarded 90 years imprisonment to the former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam and on February 28 awarded death sentence for Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Ameer Delwar Hossain Sayedee. The prosecution brought 17 witnesses to prove the charges against Mojahid. Although the tribunal on April 22 allowed three defence witnesses to defend Mojahid, the defence produced only Mojahid’s son Ali Ahmad Mabrur to defend his father. According to the prosecution, born in Paschim Khabaspur in Faridpur town in 1948, Mojahid acted as the Faridpur district Islami Chattra Sangha president from 1968 to 1970. After being enrolled at Dhaka University in 1970, he was made Dhaka district Chhatra Sangha president. In the same year, he was assigned the responsibility of East Pakistan Chhatra Sangha and finally elected provincial president of the organisation in October 1971, and also became the chief of Al-Badr Bahini during the liberation war.

Women's rights face new obstacles in Afghanistan
Setbacks to Afghanistan’s women’s rights are escalating, according to a Human Rights Watch statement released earlier today. The statement called for the country’s lower house of parliament to “reject a proposed criminal law revision that would effectively deny women legal protection from domestic violence.” A revised draft of the criminal procedure code is currently under consideration by Afghanistan’s parliament, the statement said, and the proposed language would ban relatives of the victim from testifying as a witness against the accused. If the draft law passes, article 26, entitled “Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual as a Witness,” would damage the ability to successfully prosecute cases of domestic violence, among other offenses. “Afghanistan’s lower house is proposing to protect the batterers of women and girls from criminal punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for HRW. “Legislative approval of this criminal law revision would effectively stop prosecutions of people who beat, forcibly marry, and even sell their female relatives.” The amended procedure code, HRW said, would pose a serious threat to critical protections for women and girls embodied in Afghanistan’s 2009 Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW). The EVAW law “provides criminal penalties for various abuses including rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and baad, the giving of girls to resolve disputes between families.” HRW calls the ban just “another effort to further weaken the inadequate legal protections for women’s rights,” adding that members of parliament who are opposed to women’s rights have “increasingly sought to repeal or weaken the EVAW Law.” A RIGHTS report last month presented a discussion with Heather Barr, the Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch, that expressed concern over the “slowly and unevenly” enforced law, which has nonetheless been an essential tool for combating violence against women. The interruptions in the implementation and development of the EVAW law, Barr said in June, are “ominous signs that women’s rights in Afghanistan face a dark future.” “The debate over the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was last month,” Barr said of a May deliberation. “And not only could they not get the law passed but they could not even have a debate about it because conservatives in the parliament were standing up and saying things like, ‘there shouldn’t be minimum age for girls to get married,’ and ‘rape shouldn’t be a crime because adultery is already a crime and rape is the same as adultery.’ So, people were making statements like this in the parliament, which is alarming enough, but there were also several cities throughout the country that were actually calling for the repeal of this law that criminalizes violence against women. So that was something that was really shocking.” The HRW report said that the new “legislative threat” is simply another indicator of a larger scale attack on women’s rights—an attack the Afghan government has contributed to—in which President Karzai has appointed a former Taliban government official, Abdul Rahman Hotak, to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Hotak has publicly denounced the EVAW law, saying that it “violates Islam.” “It’s perverse that Afghanistan’s parliament is devoting its time and energies to attacking women’s hard-fought legal protections,” Adams said. “The international donors who bankroll the Afghan government should serve notice that they will not underwrite legislative initiatives to victimize women.” Afghanistan’s recent assurance to the UN that it is complying with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Adams added, is just lip service intended to conceal the undermining of women’s rights by parliament and the courts.


Britain has issued export licenses worth £12 billion for the sale of military equipment to states deemed possible rights violators including Syria, Iran, China, and Pakistan, lawmakers said Wednesday. A report by a group of parliamentary committees said that 3,000 licenses for arms and other equipment had been issued to countries on the Foreign Office’s list of 27 countries of human rights concerns. The countries for which licenses have been issued include Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Belarus and Zimbawe, the Committees on Arms Export Controls of parliament’s lower House of Commons said. John Stanley, the chairman of the committees, said the report “puts into stark relief the inherent conflict between the government’s arms exports and human rights policies.” The committee said that while many of the licenses were for dual military or civilian use items, which could not easily be used for internal repression, the numbers were still “surprisingly large.” The countries with the largest numbers of licenses include China with 1,163 licenses worth £1.4 billion, Saudi Arabia with 417 licenses worth £1.8 billion, and Israel and the Palestinian Territories with 381 licenses worth £7.8 billion. Iran, at the center of international concerns about its nuclear program, had 62 licenses worth £803 million and Syria, where a civil war has left up to 100,000 people dead according to the United Nations, had three licenses worth £143,000. The only two countries without any valid licenses out of the 27 on the list were North Korea and South Sudan. The list comprises Afghanistan, Belarus, Myanmar, China, Colombia, Cuba, North Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Fiji, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe. But the report also raised concerns about a further five countries for which licenses were issued: Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Madagascar and Tunisia. Argentina was included on the list because of renewed tensions over the British-held Falkland Islands. Rights group Amnesty International called for more transparency over what kind of equipment Britain was exporting. “It would be hard not to conclude that the U.K. government’s arms sales practices are at odds with its stated policy not to send weapons to anywhere that poses a clear risk that they could be used for human rights violations,” Amnesty’s arms control expert Oliver Sprague said.

Heroin in Pakistan more affordable than food

Over one billion dollars’ worth of heroin each year – that is the deadly fallout Pakistan gets from the blooming narcotics industry that provides the main cash crop in devastated Afghanistan. Locals say heroin is cheaper than food. It’s thought Pakistan has more than four million drug addicts, but less than 80 dedicated drug rehab clinics. As RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports from Karachi, those heroin addicts don’t even bother hiding their habit. For many this is a deadly path. Local young man Abdullah spent two weeks looking for his father, a heroin addict, eventually finding him in Karachi’s largest morgue. While help for drug addicts is in short supply, there is no shortage of heroin on the streets of Karachi. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium – heroin’s main ingredient – and accounts for 90 per cent of the global supply. Roughly 40 per cent of it is smuggled through Pakistan. Opium production is up for the third year in a row, and predicted to grow more. When NATO leaves in 2014, there are fears the floodgates will open for the spread of the deadly harvest.

Karachi Killings Rise Sharply

Pakistan's Human Rights Commission says murders and violent crimes have risen sharply in the country's biggest city, Karachi. A report released by the nongovernmental organization late on July 15 says more than 1,700 violent deaths were reported in the southern seaport city during the first six months of 2013. It points to June as the most violent month, with more than 300 killings. The commission recorded more than 1,200 murders last year and nearly 1,100 in 2011. The report says that in the first half of 2013, more than 700 members of various political parties were killed in apparent targeted assassination campaigns. Nearly 100 police officers were killed, and more than 100 corpses were discovered. Karachi, a city of more than 20 million people, is plagued by ethnic, sectarian, and gang violence.

Terror attack revelations: Pakistan urges India to explain its position

Foreign Office Spokesperson on Wednesday hoped that the Indian government will explain its position and bring forth facts about the revelations made by a former Indian government official that New Delhi itself was behind the Mumbai and parliament attacks. On July 14, an Indian home ministry former officer disclosed that a member of the secret service team had accused incumbent governments of 'orchestrating' the terror attack on Parliament and the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai. The former Indian investigator Satish Verma revealed that India itself was behind Parliament in Delhi and Mumbai terror attacks. In an exlcusive interview with Radio Pakistan's current affairs channel‚ Foreign Office spokersperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said authorities are reviewing the statement made by the former Indian official. When asked about the denial made by Teheek-e-Taliban Pakistan that it is not sending its fighters to Syria‚ the spokesperson said the concerned departments are looking into the matter and take necessary action if they noticed anything in this regard. He said non interference in the internal matters of other countries is the policy of Pakistan.

Pakistan: Why has loadshedding increased?

Legitimate questions are being asked as to why the duration of loadshedding has risen in spite of the 29th June 2013 clearance of 326 billion rupee Independent Power Producers' (IPPs) debt (on account of inter-circular debt) while the remaining 177 billion rupees is to be cleared by August 10 as per the Economic Co-ordination Committee's (ECC) decision. The pervasive contribution of the inter-circular debt as a critical factor in the energy sector's ability to produce at capacity is well established as well as recognised by all including energy sector experts, economists as well as political parties. Severe liquidity problems due to failure of one energy sub-sector to clear the dues of another has culminated in the inability of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to pay for fuel imports which, in turn, accounts for a massive rise in loadshedding leading to violent street protests. During the past five years, the government felt compelled to release unbudgeted funds to PSO to enable it to open letters of credit for the import of fuel and once funds were released loadshedding eased albeit for a limited period because the root cause of the circular debt was not tackled and the debt simply resurfaced. There are a myriad number of reasons for the circular debt that include: (i) poor recovery of dues (an estimated gap of 12 billion dollars between the cost of generation and payments received during the past four years that has been filled through massive subsidies), (ii) theft, (iii) transmission losses more than a percentage point above the stipulated level, (iv) heavy reliance on expensive imported fuel, (v) inefficiently-run sector inclusive of the regulator and ministries, and (vi) lack of co-ordination between related ministries. Thus the PPP-led coalition government as well as the caretaker government led by Mir Hazar Khan Khoso periodically injected cash into the liquidity-strapped PSO to enable fuel imports for the generation companies to operate at higher capacity than was otherwise possible. The usual fund injection varied from 10 to 12 billion rupees and its beneficial impact in terms of reduced loadshedding lasted between 10 to 20 days depending on demand during that time period. So why is it, query members of the Opposition including Naveed Qamar, former Federal Minister for Water and Power and the general public, that this time around with clearance of a whopping 326 billion rupees, loadshedding has risen? This question is particularly relevant given that senior ministers of the newly-elected government including Khawaja Asif, the incumbent Minister for Water and Power and Pervez Rasheed the Minister for Information, are on record as having stated that even though the scale and extent of the energy sector problems would require years to fully resolve yet people will start seeing tangible results soon. That the tangible results are showing a worsening trend has angered the general public and left the PML (N) government wrong footed. So what factors are at play? The PML (N) would have the public believe that the demand-supply gap has decreased to 3500 MW (data that few regard as credible like in the past) due to a rise in generation to 13500 MW; and maintain that the rise in loadshedding can be attributed to high demand of 17000 MW. During the past five years the shortfall figures have on average varied between 3500 MW to 6000 MW and hence the current shortfall figures, even if accurate, do not reflect any major gains for the PML (N) government. But the question remains: why has loadshedding increased? One reason could well be that while the PPP-led government and the caretakers tackled the problem by injecting money to enable imports of fuel supply by PSO the PML (N) government has tackled the problem by retiring the IPPs' circular debt with a commitment that they produce at optimum capacity. In other words, the rationale is that if the IPPs have the ability to pay for fuel imports then a visible difference would be evident in electricity supply. But given that at the same time the newly-elected government has withheld release of subsidies to distribution companies, including KESC, on account of inter-disco tariff differential subject to audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan, a rise in loadshedding could well be curtailment of supply by discos at a lower tariff than their purchase price without the subsidy. Another reason could be Supreme Court's directive for equitable loadshedding which accounts for a rise in loadshedding in cities/towns, where violent street protests have been held, whereas prior to the directive rural areas suffered considerably more than urban centres.

Pakistan: No notification yet for increase in minimum wage despite one month lapse

The federal government’s commitment towards the working and labour classes can be gauged by the fact that despite a lapse of around one month, a notification about rise of the minimum wage from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 has not yet been made by the government. The National Assembly had approved the provision of minimum wage raise in the Finance Bill 2013 which was passed on June 27. Initially, the provision was not a part of the finance bill but Finance Minister Ishaq Dar made the announcement to increase the minimum wage to Rs 10,000 on the recommendation of Senate Finance Committee on June 21. The delay in notification means that millions of low-paid workers would be deprived of their basic right as the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) would not be able to get deductions for workers benefit from different departments according to the pay raise. Interestingly, neither the office of the federal secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, nor any other high-ranking official of the Ministry of Human Resources know that they have to make the notification in this regard to enable the EOBI to enhance deductions for pensions from parent organisations of workers from different public sector organisations so pension and other benefits could be increased accordingly. A source in the ministry of HRD said no notification had yet been issued by the ministry. The source said that only when the ministry would issue the notification, the EOBI would be able to increase its deduction from the parents departments of the government for pensions. “Previously, we were making the deductions against Rs 8,000 minimum wage while now from July 1, we would have to make deductions against minimum wage of Rs 10,000. But if raise is not notified, we will follow Rs 8,000 pay model,” the source said, adding that the notification was mandatory to help increase deductions for pensions of the employees. It was a tradition that the prime minister announces minimum pay raise in his speech on Labour Day each year on May 1 which is subsequently notified by the ministry of HRD. “However, the caretaker PM did not announce the raise this year leaving the matter to elected leadership," the source added. When contacted, HRD Secretary Munir Qureshi was not available for comment. Nawab Din, his private secretary (PS), promised to come up with a response, stating that the notification had to be made by the Finance Ministry. However, he did not respond later despite repeated calls. Mohammad Asif, PRO for the ministry, said the subject of minimum wage had been devolved to the provincial governments. He said that under the law, the notification by the HRD ministry would enable the EOBI to enhance deductions for pensions of the workers of different public sector organisations so that pension could be made upon retirement. However, the EOBI had not been devolved and was working under the HRD ministry. No official response could be obtained to this. EOB Act 1976 was enforced with effect from April 01, 1976, to achieve the objective of Article 38 (C) of the Constitution, by providing for compulsory social insurance. It extends old-age benefits to insured persons or their survivors. Under EOB Scheme, insured persons are entitled to avail benefit like, Old-Age Pension (on retirement), Invalidity Pension (in case of permanent disability), Old-Age Grant (when an insured person attains superannuation age but does not possess the minimum threshold for pension) Survivor's Pension (in case an insured person has expired). EOBI does not receive any financial assistance from the government for carrying out its operations. A contribution equal to 5 percent of minimum wages has to be paid by the employers of all the industrial and commercial organisations where EOB act is applicable and a contribution equal to 1 percent of minimum wage by the employees of the organisations. The minimum wage is meant to be a tool for combating poverty and preventing unfair wages. A federal minimum wage was first set in 1938 by The Fair Labour and Standards Act in the US. Monthly minimum wages in Pakistan are recommended by the federal government under nationally-applicable labour policies and set by the Provincial Minimum Wages Board under the Minimum Wages Ordinance, 1961. Pakistan's first minimum wage was introduced in 1992 when it was set at Rs 1,500 per month. It was, subsequently, raised and in 1996, the amount was increased to Rs 1,650 per month. The wage was increased in 1998 to Rs 1,950 per month while in 2006, it was raised to Rs 4,000 per month. In year 2007, the minimum wage was increased to Rs 4,600 per month while the following year in 2008 to Rs 6,000 per month. In 2010, the minimum wage was again raised to Rs 7,000 per month. In 2012, the raise was made to Rs 8,000 per month. - See more at:

PESHAWAR: Show of fury: Protests over load-shedding continue across the province

The Express Tribune
Hundreds of people from different cities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa continued to protest on Tuesday against the government’s failure to curb power outages during Ramazan, as had been promised earlier.
Residents of Peshawar and adjacent areas have demanded the provincial government to take action against Wapda for carrying out load-shedding during Iftar, Sehri and Taraweeh timings despite the government’s orders to not do so. Residents of Chugalpura held a protest against Pesco and asked the Peshawar High Court chief justice to take notice of the outages and order relevant authorities to reduce load-shedding.
A protest was held on Jalala Road while another was held on Shamsi Road. Scores of residents of Shergarh blocked main Malakand Road for over an hour and chanted slogans against Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited and the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).
The demonstrators said they not only face power outages but gas load-shedding as well. “We are forced to have Sehri at midnight as there is no gas to prepare food at Sehri timings,” said a demonstrator. After blocking the road for over an hour, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
Residents of Rajjar and Shabqadar tehsils held demonstrations against load-shedding and blocked main roads from 9am to 11am. Meanwhile, a disgruntled mob attacked Shabqadar Grid Station and pelted stones at the building. Earlier, they had marched towards the station, but paramilitary troops prevented them from entering the building. The protesters chanted slogans against Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) officials while a few teenagers threw bricks at the grid station. Fortunately, no loss was reported.
Hundreds of people from union council Pirano Kallay protested against 20-hour-long power outages in their area. Addressing protesters at Batkhela Bazaar, elders Pir Azmat Shah and Rasheed Khan lashed out at the government and threatened to blow up all electricity towers in their area if Pesco did not solve the issue immediately. The elders said it was better if the government just cut off their power supply completely instead of giving them only two hours of electricity a day. Meanwhile, residents of Sharifabad and Khataki gathered in front of Batkhela Press Club and chanted slogans against the government. They blocked the main Malakand Road for nearly an hour before scattering peacefully. Mingora Hundreds of angry protesters blocked Mingora-Shangla Road in protest against unprecedented load-shedding and a broken down transformer in Khwazakhela. They chanted slogans against Wapda and MPAs and MNAs from their area. Traders Association President Sher Alam Kaka said the area’s transformer has been out of order for over 10 days and despite many visits to Wapda’s office it is yet to be repaired. Similarly, Mingora-Madyan Road was also blocked by protesters at Shahdara. The protesters claimed even their water supply had been disconnected for the past 10 days and they were forced to collect water from far off places. They dispersed after elected representatives arrived and assured them the issue would be resolved within 24 hours. Tank Electricity supply remained suspended on Monday from 3pm till midnight in the city, and till Tuesday morning in villages because of a fault in Tank district’s grid station. As a result, enraged residents of these areas held a protest at Gul Imam Chowk on Tuesday. Hundreds of protesters blocked the Tank-Peshawar Road for over an hour in protest against the prolonged outage. They burned tyres and chanted slogans against Wapda and both provincial and federal governments.

Documentary to follow Pakistan's young education crusader Malala

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, will be the subject of a documentary film, its producers said on Tuesday. Davis Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the 2006 environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," starring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, will direct the yet-to-be-titled documentary that is slated to be released in late 2014. The film will follow Yousafzai as she campaigns for the right of children to education, said producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who also produced the 2007 Afghan drama, "The Kite Runner."
Yousafzai was targeted for killing by the Islamist Taliban in October last year because of her campaign against the group's efforts to deny women education. She not only survived the attack, but recovered to the extent that she celebrated her 16th birthday last week with a passionate speech at the United Nations in New York. "There are few stories Laurie and I have ever come across that are as compelling, urgent or important as the real-life struggle of Malala and her father Ziauddin on behalf of universal education for children," Parkes said in a statement.
The teenager was treated in Pakistan before the United Arab Emirates provided an air ambulance to fly her to Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate. Unable to return safely to Pakistan, Yousafzai enrolled in a school in Birmingham, England in March. "Let us pick up our books and pens," she said in her U.N. speech. "They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution." The film will be funded by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of government-owned Abu Dhabi Media, which is based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Balochistan: Hazaras targeted again

Daily Times
The tragedies — and bodies — just seem to keep piling up in the restive province of Balochistan, which is now undergoing a bloody crusade of sectarian cleansing. Again the Hazara Shias of Quetta have been victimised in a target killing in which four Hazaras have been killed and two passersby have been seriously injured. Gunmen on a motorcycle laden with sophisticated weapons carried out the crime and, as usual, fled the scene. It is deeply unsettling that we have reached a stage at which such news does not seem to be out of the ordinary and the Shia Hazaras have become just another bloodied statistic. No investigation is necessary to determine whether or not this was a crime of specific assassination but the culprits must be brought to justice for once. To do that, the situation in Balochistan has to change. The province of Balochistan is home to a raging nationalist insurgency, one that pits them against the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), which stands suspected of being behind the missing persons whose bodies are routinely found tortured and dumped in different places around the province. If this is indeed true, it seems the agendas of all those involved in Balochistan’s unrest are clashing, and with violent results. The crime of the missing persons coupled with the continuous targeting of Shia Hazaras — who have been routinely murdered by the militants of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the hundreds in suicide bomb attacks and assassinations — have made Balochistan a cesspool of hate, murder and misery. There is an urgent need to tackle the biggest problem facing not just the province but the entire country: terrorism. The kind of terrorism one is witnessing in Balochistan is of the most dangerous kind in which a significant minority is being declared a legitimate target for killing. The army, the intelligence agencies and the paramilitary force must let go of whatever agenda they have in the province and work together on relieving Balochistan of the terrorist virus. There is a dire need for the police and the intelligence to work together to eliminate those who are targeting on the basis of belief otherwise there really will be no province, no country left worth fighting for. Without the combined efforts of all those who hold Balochistan dear, these terrorists, who are promoting savage sectarian murder, will win in the void that has been created in the province. That does not work in favour of anyone.

QUETTA: Hazaras threaten civil disobedience

Hazara political parties have threatened a civil disobedience movement against the targeted killing of their community members, the latest episode of which saw four Hazaras being shot dead on Monday evening. A complete shutter down strike was observed on Tuesday in parts of the provincial capital against Monday’s killings on Masjid road. All major shops and markets remained closed on Toghi Road, Abdul Sattar Road, Alamdar Road, MecChongi road and their adjoining areas. Political leaders of the Hazara community have held state institutions responsible for the attack. At the Quetta Press Club, chiefs of the various Hazara political and rights groups gathered to address a press conference including Hazara Political Workers’ chief Muhammad Tahir Khan Hazara, Hazara Jirga chief Qayyum Chengaizi, president of the Shia Conference Daud Agha and Member Provincial Assembly Agha Muhammad. They demanded an immediate halt to the targeted killing of Hazara youngsters. “If this series does not stop, we will jam the entire city with other sympathising parties,” they said, adding that the killers of the four persons on Masjid Road were also also responsible for the killing of three at Khud-e-Dad Chowk. They said that the attacks had been carried out as part of a conspiracy to promote sectarian violence in the city. The Hazara leaders said that they were out of ideas for where they could go to secure their constitutional and human rights, adding that thousands of Hazara youngsters have been killed during the past few years. “State institutions are directly involved in our massacre,” they alleged and added that instead of providing them protection, Hazaras were being pushed against the wall. With the stores closed, the streets appeared barren. Stringent measures of security were adopted by the government and law enforcement agencies including police, Frontier Corps (FC) and the Anti Terrorist Force patrolled the area. Shutter-down strike observed against Quetta killings: A complete shutter down was observed on Tuesday in Quetta on the call of Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) to protest Monday’s killings of four Hazara community men in an attack on Masjid road Strict security measures were adopted to maintain law and order and avoid untoward incidents in the provincial capital. At least seven people, including four members of the Shia Hazara community, were shot dead Monday in separate incidents of violence in Quetta. Gunmen opened fire at a vehicle in Quetta, killing four men belonging to the ethnic Shia Hazara community. In a separate incident later at night, gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead three and injured another person in the city’s Khudaidad Chowk area. Later, gunmen opened fire at a cold drink shop in Khudaidad Chowk area, seriously injuring five people. The wounded were rushed to Civil Hospital, however, three of them succumbed to their injuries on their way. Dozens of angry protesters blocked Jinnah Road outside Civil Hospital to protest the killings. They chanted slogans against the administration and demanded the arrests of the killers. Later, the Hazara Democratic Party and other organisations called for three days of mourning and a shutter-down strike to protest against the killings. On the other hand, law enforcement agencies have arrested two suspected terrorists from Kachlak area.

BALOCHISTAN: Habib Jalib: The Unrivaled Nationalist

The Baloch Hal
On July 14th, the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.) remembered its assassinated secretary general and former member of the Pakistani Senate, Habib Jalib Baloch. Mr. Baloch was a Supreme Court lawyer and a prominent scholar on Baloch nationalism. He had formerly served as the chairman of the Baloch Students Organization (B.S.O.), a platform from where he had initiated his political career. Mr. Baloch was shot dead on July 14th, 2010 in Quetta city. The motives behind his killing are still unclear while the B.N.P. blames the Pakistani security establishment for plotting his murder as it has also raised fingers on the government for the killing of many other leaders and activists, including some members of the party’s Central Committee. While remembering Mr. Baloch, the B.N.P. pledged to continue his mission. What was Mr. Baloch’s mission and how can it be accomplished? Mr. Baloch was indeed one of the finest of the Baloch nationalist leaders. He was educated in the erstwhile Soviet Union and was among the highly educated breed of the Baloch nationalist leaders. He spent his entire life in activism and struggled to highlight the plight of the Baloch people. He elegantly presented Balochistan’s case on various platforms, ranging from conferences to television talk shows. He was an ardent champion of democracy and human rights. As a lawyer, he freely fought the cases of the missing Baloch persons while always led peaceful protest rallies of the B.N.P. Mr. Baloch, during the last days of his life, had become a supporter of Balochistan’s right to self-determination as he believed a mere call for provincial autonomy while living within the federation of Pakistan was insufficient. He believed in peaceful, democratic struggle for the attainment of the Baloch rights and did not endorse the use of violence for the achievement of oppressed people’s rights. During General Musharraf’s martial law, Mr. Baloch was also detained on a number of occasions. Firstly, he was held when Musharraf ordered the disruption of B.N.P.’s Lashkar-e-Balochistan long march. Later on, he was imprisoned for anti-emergency protests that condemned the detention of lawyers on the instructions of General Musharraf. Mr. Baloch belonged to a middle-class Baloch family and he had reached the top level of nationalist politics by the virtue of his own consistent hard work, commitment and engagement with the idea of Baloch nationalism. He was a fine self-made man who often inspired audiences with his cogent arguments and academic discussions. In Baloch nationalist history, very few people without a major tribal background have managed to reach the top. Many of Mr. Baloch’s contemporaries belonging to the middle class, such as late Raziq Bugti, either gave up or joined the government. He was among the few who neither belonged to a tribal family nor gave up his affiliation with the nationalist movement. He started as a Baloch nationalist during his studentship time and died as a nationalist at such a hard time that most key Baloch leaders, including those from his own party, had fled the country fearing assassination or arrest. Mr. Baloch held a unique position in Baloch politics and no one among all schools of thought in the Baloch politics could replace him. In a nutshell, the Baloch nationalist movement has not been able to produce qualified leaders like Mr. Baloch since he was forced to depart from this world. Most of nationalist leaders today lack Mr. Baloch’s acumen, understanding of the very philosophy of Baloch nationalism and its history. They have landed on leadership positions because someone in their families was a ‘nationalist’ at one point of time in the history. Mr. Baloch did not inherit his position from anyone in his family. He worked hard to achieve it. If the B.N.P. is truly committed to accomplishing Mr. Baloch’s goal, it should encourage and promote academic discussions and study circles among the young Baloch political activists. The Baloch nationalists desperately need qualified young men and women who should not only learn their own lessons of nationalism but also grasp proper understanding of global politics, contemporary challenges and political strategies. In his lifetime, Mr. Baloch guided a full generation of young activists and introduced them with the true essence of nationalism. Now, it is the time to emulate his practices.