Aseefa Bhutto Zardari Pakistan Ambassador for Polio Eradication.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The border guards of India and Pakistan Thursday again targeted each other's posts on international border in Kashmir, officials said. The border guards on both sides targeted each other using automatic weapons early Thursday in frontier districts of Jammu and Samba. "Pakistani Rangers last night started firing mortar shells and rockets on our outposts in Nikki Tawi area of Jammu and Ramgarh area of Samba. The firing continued until early today," said an official of Indian border guards Border Security Force (BSF). " Our side also retaliated to the firing from Pakistani Rangers." Officials said no loss of life was reported from Indian side. Border guards of the two nuclear neighbors on Tuesday exchanged fire along 50 locations on the international border, triggering panic among the residents. Reports said many villagers in the frontier areas have started constructing underground bunkers for their safety. According to India's official broadcaster All India Radio ( AIR), Pakistani Rangers targeted civilian areas in Ramgarh sector which caused extensive damage to some residential houses. "The inmates of one house in Nanga Gao of Ramgarh sector had a narrow escape as the mortar fired by Rangers fell on the rooftop of a house," said AIR. "BSF personnel also had a miraculous escape as the mortar fired by Pak Rangers fell close to border outpost." On Tuesday India's Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde visited the restive region to review security along line-of-control (LoC) and international border (IB). Skirmishes between troops posted on LoC have been going on almost at daily basis since Aug 6. Majority of exchanges took place on LoC in Poonch. However for the past several days similar skirmishes are going on along IB in the region. Both sides have suffered troop as well as civilian casualties during the standoff on 720 km long LoC and 198 km IB. LoC is a de facto border that divides Kashmir into India and Pakistan controlled parts. New Delhi and Islamabad in 2003 agreed to observe cease-fire along the IB and LoC in Kashmir. Though some violations have been reported on both sides, the cease-fire remains in effect. Both New Delhi and Islamabad blame each other of resorting to unprovoked firing on LoC and IB. Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full. Since their Independence from British, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.
Afghanistan's presidential election season is underway. In a sign of genuine political progress, the government has begun accepting nominations for candidates to succeed President Hamid Karzai. This process started just weeks after the nation's Assembly passed legislation providing a legal framework for the presidential, provincial council and parliamentary elections. Nothing is more important for Afghanistan than building on the liberalizing achievements of the past decade and preventing a slide back toward repression. This is why it is crucial to retain and expand the hard-won rights of Afghan women. Gender equality isn't just a matter of moral fairness -- it's essential to the country's economic and political health and to ensuring that the nation has a secure, peaceful and stable future.Since the fall of the Taliban, Afghan women's rights have expanded significantly. The country's current constitution affords equal protection to men and women, guaranteeing women the right to education, political participation and economic opportunity. Afghan women are now employed at jobs ranging from doctor to police officer -- unthinkable under the Taliban. An Oxfam report found that school enrollment among girls has increased from roughly 5,000 to 2.4 million. These are encouraging developments. But there is so much more progress to be made. Afghan women are still the targets of institutional discrimination and gender-based violence. Here in the last half of 2013, two consecutive Ministry of Women's Affairs chiefs were assassinated. In August, female parliamentarian Fariba Ahmadi Kakar was kidnapped by Taliban militants. A few days later, the vehicle envoy of female Sen. Roh Gul Khairzad was ambushed, leading to the death of her 8-year-old daughter. And in mid-September, Afghanistan's top female police officer was shot as she left her home. This violence is organized. Sima Samar, head of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan, has noted that by targeting high-profile women, the Taliban seeks to "limit the active presence and activities of women in their society."Indeed, a new United Nations report finds that in the first six months of 2013, the deaths of women and children jumped 38 compared to the same period last year. American forces will be drawn down next year. It's absolutely imperative that their exit not bring on a backslide. The country's government must be expected to keep its commitments to women and girls. Gender equality is about affirming human dignity, and it starts with improving access to education. The statistics tell the story. Mortality rates for children younger than 5 are 50% lower for mothers who have attended primary school. Educated women are less likely to die during childbirth and more likely to send their own children to school. These children then grow up to be the educated young citizens essential to sustained economic growth. These facts shouldn't be surprising. Education is a basic human right and its impact is transformative in any society. Educated women are major contributors to Afghanistan's economy. Each additional year of primary school improves a woman's earning potential by 10% to 20%. Women also provide an indispensable voice in political institutions. Here in the United States, after gaining the right to vote, women drew attention to underappreciated issues such as maternal health and child care, resulting in policy shifts that significantly reduced child mortality rates. Given the enormous challenges that Afghanistan faces, the country cannot afford to regress back to a system in which some of its brightest minds are left out of the political process or any part of society. Afghanistan's elections and the impending drawdown of American troops mark a new era in the country's development. The international community must work to ensure that women's gains in recent years are protected and that Afghan women continue to make political and economic progress. Any future support for the country's government must be explicitly tied to continued defense of equal rights and continued progress of female citizens. For peace and prosperity, we must not abandon the women of Afghanistan.
http://www.pajhwok.com/Intelligence operatives in eastern Laghman province have detained 21 children, some as young as 7, being taken to Pakistan for receiving suicide attack training, an official said on Thursday. The children, aged between 7 and 12 years, were detained a day earlier after they entered Laghman from Nuristan province, the provincial National Directorate of Security spokesman Nasrullah Nasrat told a press conference. He said the children had been picked from various areas in Nuristan and were being taken to Pakistan through Laghman by Qari Usman when they were arrested as a result of an intelligence report. He said Usman had been arrested and was being interrogated and the children were officially released to the Nuristan peace committee. A member of Nuristan peace committee, who did not want to be named, said abject poverty and lack of schools were some of the major reasons forcing youth and children into joining terrorists. He said armed groups were taking advantage of lack of schools and use children in suicide attacks and other terrorist activities. The Ministry of Education says religious schools have been established in all provinces in order to prevent children from going to Pakistan for religious studies.
د ورستیو راپورونو له مخه په قبایلي سیمو، په ځانګړي ډول، په شمالي وزیرستان او خیبر کې پولیو مخ په زیاتېدو ده.
نن په نړۍ کې د ګوزڼ ناروغۍ ضد ورځ په داسې حال کې لمانځل کېږي چې ډاکتران اندېښنه ښيي چې دا ناروغي له شمالي وزیرستانه نورو سیمو ته هم خپرېدای شي. یوازې د اکتوبر په میاشت کې په شمالي وزیرستان کې ۱۰ کسان دې ناروغۍ ځپلي دي. د روغتیا نړیوالې ادارې له وینا سره سم، ګوزڼ ناروغي، پرته له درو هیوادونو، نوره له ټولې نړۍ پاکه شوې ده. په دې هیوادونو کې افغانستان، پاکستان او نایجېریا شامل دي. د ورستیو راپورونو له مخه په قبایلي سیمو، په ځانګړي ډول، په شمالي وزیرستان او خیبر کې پولیو مخ په زیاتېدو ده. د شمالي وزیرستان روغتیايي ادارې مشر ډاکتر جان میر خان مشال راډیو ته وویل، په روانې اوونۍ کې په دې سیمه کې د پولیو ناروغۍ درې نوي کېسونه مالوم شوي دي. د ده په وینا، یوازې د اکتوبر په میاشت کې ۱۰ کسان ګوزڼ وهلي دي. ډاکتر میر وايي، له شمالي وزیرستانه یې د ۹۰ داسې ماشومانو وینې نمونې اسلام اباد ته استولې دي چې عمرونه یې له پینځو کالونو کم دي. د ده په خبره، ناروغي په ټول وزیرستان کې موجوده ده. د شمالي وزیرستان روغتیايي ادارې مشر ډاکتر جان میر خان وویل، په وزیرستان کې خو د ګوزڼ ناروغي خپره شوې ده خو اوس خطر دا دی چې دا ناروغي به جنوبي وزیرستان، کورمې او د بنو نیمه قبایلي سیمو ته هم ورسېږي. د ده په خبره، د پولیو ناروغۍ واکسیني څاڅکو پر ورکولو د وسله والو بندیز ختمولو له پاره پوره هڅې کوي. ډاکتر میر د وزیرستان پر ولس غږ (ږغ) وکړ چې د پینځو کالونو له عمره کم، ټولو ماشومانو ته د ګوزڼ ناروغۍ مخنیوي څاڅکي ورکړي او دوی روغتون ته د واکسین ورکولو لپاره بوځي. په روان (۲۰۱۳ز) کال کې په قبایلي سیمې خیبر کې ۱۰، شمالي وزیرستان کې ۱۵ او په ټول پاکستان کې ۴۶ کسان ګوزڼ وهلي دي. له دې علاوه د پاکستان په مختلفو برخو کې د واکسیني څاڅکو پر ورکوونکو ډلو هم وخت په وخت حملې شوې دي.
The onset of paralysis cases in 2013 (up to October 19) occurred in children aged between three months and 8 years. According to the WHO, polio mainly affects children under the age of five but can strike at any age On this World Polio Day, I would like to make a personal plea to everyone holding a stake in polio eradication. These stakeholders include, of course, the parents whose responsibility it is to ensure their children are protected against polio. But in order to stop the explosive ongoing polio outbreak in Fata, all parts of government, civil society, communities throughout the country, as well as the Taliban, must now be actively involved in addressing the sizable challenges we face. All that is needed are a few good campaigns reaching every child through negotiated access - based on the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The polio eradication effort in Pakistan will continue, whether it takes us one year or longer than that. But at this very moment, we have to save our children from this crippling disease and stop this major outbreak. The author is the head of Polio Eradication at the World Health Organization. Fact box Wild polio refers to a poliovirus which is encountered in nature and not communicated by a strain of the virus used to produce polio vaccines The source of the virus in a patient matters; less than 5% of those infected with wild poliovirus show symptoms, the rest show none but can transmit the virus to others 198 was the number of confirmed polio cases in 2011 One of the three types of poliovirus was completely eradicated during 2012 5,994 children could not be administered OPV in an anti-polio campaign in October in Peshawar district due to ’parental refusal’
by Maleeha Manzoor
http://www.thefrontierpost.com/Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has demanded that Opposition Leader of the Punjab Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed be changed The two leaders of PPP Raja Riaz and Shaukat Basra at a press conference in Press Club demanded Imran Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to remove Mian Mehmood-ul-Rasheed since he has been negligent towards discussing inflation and other issues in the assembly. “Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed is not addressing the issues of the public,” PPP Spokesperson Raja Riaz argued. He also stated that PPP will lead a protest if the opposition leader is not changed. The brother to the leader of opposition has been appointed at an important designation by the Punjab Assembly , claimed the two leaders of PPP. Riaz further pointed out the Tsunami being nothing but a bad reputation. Imran Khan has led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) government to its own funeral and now a bargain settling game has also begun in Punjab, claimed Raja Riaz. Imran Khan would be considered as an ally to the leader of opposition if he fails in replacing him, said Raja Riaz.
http://lubpak.com/First and foremost of course are the Taliban. Their hatred of Malala is clear and rational, since she has become a symbol of resistance to their medieval ideology and its most fanatical aspects. First as a champion of female education and emancipation (itself bad enough in their eyes) and then as the victim of a particularly vicious and inhuman attack (it is hard to justify an ideology whose followers are willing to carry out the assassination of a 16 year old school girl in this manner). That they are upset and want to silence her or malign her is unsurprising. They are somewhat shaken by the publicity and are dimly aware that it is not reflecting to their credit, as is apparent from the letter written by Adnan Rashid in to Malala, explaining why she was shot. To their credit, they have not denied their attack or tried to blame in on RAW and Mossad. Instead, they have tried to justify it by appealing to the fact that she is being used against “Islamic forces” by Western powers. It is hard to imagine for many sheltered Westerners, but that justification carries weight in their own constituency and they are not doing too badly in justifying their action to their own followers. The second group opposing her consists of Taliban apologists and fellow travelers in Pakistani society at large (Jamat e Islami, Islamists in general, factions of the PTI, etc.); their job is a bit harder because some in the audience they are aiming at are not fanatical enough to think that just speaking out against the Talibs (or even being honored by Western powers) is enough reason to execute a young unarmed girl. So this group relies on a mix of justification (she is an agent of Western powers) and evasion (the Taliban didn’t even do it, the CIA did it). It is an unstable (and illogical) mix, but never mind that, the ground has been well prepared for unstable and irrational propaganda mixes in Pakistan. Thanks to years of army psyops that have promoted exactly such a mix (the Taliban are bad/the Taliban didn’t do it/ RAW-CIA is responsible) thousands of educated Pakistanis can now successfully hold at least three contradictory theories in their head and vigorously support all three. Thus we find thousands of PTI supporters and other middle class Pakistanis happily maligning Malala for being a CIA agent and simultaneously claiming that the CIA arranged her shooting and that the Taliban were well justified in targeting her. The third highly visible (though practically less consequential) group of Malala haters is a subset of elite Pakistani (and presumably Indian, Bangladeshi, etc.) leftists who live in a Eurocentric world with only two poles: Western imperialists (bad) and their opponents (good). This highly educated (and mostly Western employed, frequently richly capitalist) group has a Pavlovian response to anyone and anything that they feel is being honored by Western imperialists (aka their employers and business partners) in any shape or form. Once Malala moved beyond Bishop Tutu and started getting honors from Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama, her goose was cooked in this well-appointed kitchen. She was now an imperialist pawn and they were not going to take it anymore. With their envy and mean-spiritedness set free by this ideological “axiom of choice” (“liked by Obama, must be hated by me”) they have wasted no time. Unlike the PTI’s nearly illiterate support base (educated, but not too literate), these people know the best postmodern lingo and phrases like “white savior complex” have flown off the keyboards and on to the hallowed pages of the Guardian and Huffpo in less time than it takes to say “metropolitan gaze”. Alhamdulillah. Last, but not the least, there is the matter of straightforward envy. Malala, a lower-middle class girl from Swat, is now living in Birmingham and traveling the world. She has a book deal worth X and prizes worth Y under her belt and more are likely to come her way very soon. Sure, she had to get shot for the privilege, but she survived and there she is. And we are not. The same ugly well from which Musharraf drew his famous line about “women in Pakistan are getting raped in order to get foreign visas” has been visited by many to draw out taunts about Malala, and the results are not pretty. That this is human nature and we are all humans and so on does not make it any less nauseating. As with any write-up, some people are going to be unhappy with this one. I don’t particularly care about some groups (super-elite leftists, for example, can take a hike) but I feel the need to add these parting thoughts: No liberal can prefer the people who sat down, planned and then carried out an assassination attempt on a schoolgirl in her school van, against the schoolgirl herself (no matter how prominent now and how honored by whom). At least this much we can agree on. Anyone who is in some sense a partisan in the ongoing strife in Pakistan has to know what side they are on (for whatever reason), and what sides there are to choose from. From a profoundly Leninist position, Malala should yet find support from most of Pakistan’s 3242 Leninists. Her “over-exposure” may really be unhelpful to your cause (whatever you imagine it to be), but in the name of God and common sense, please step away from that ZaidHamid level conspiracy theory with your pens in the air. Take a deep breath. Relax. There, feel better? - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/287345#sthash.q8vBegrz.dpuf
PAKISTAN: New draconian laws provide legal cover to disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, & unfair trial
http://www.humanrights.asia/The government of Pakistan has – within a short period of less than two weeks – promulgated two draconian laws, ostensibly, to combat terrorism. The first ordinance was promulgated on October 11. It has amended the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, and curtailed fundamental rights of citizens. Now the government has gone ahead and promulgated another ordinance on October 20. This one is called "Pakistan Protection Ordinance." It hands even greater powers to law enforcement authorities (LEA). Now LEA can enter and search any premises without warrant and confiscate any property without permission from any lawful authority. The ill intentions of the government have not been disguised. Parliament, and thereby open debate on the provisions of law, has been avoided to unilaterally push through these decisions. Both ordinances are manifestly ultra virus and unconstitutional. The October 11 ordinance, which amends the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, provides extraordinary powers to LEA. It allows LEA to detain suspects up to three months, and thereby to curb the process of fair trial by such long detention. It allows for conviction on the basis of incriminating text messages, phone calls, and email. It grants LEA powers to shoot at sight. Telephones and internet facilities can be freely tapped and monitored. The ordinance has become a grave threat to right to privacy. The October 20 ordinance, 'Pakistan Protection ordinance', covers issues related to the security of the people and attempts to clamp down on anti-state elements with swift justice and timely LEA action. This ordinance allows the constitution of joint investigation teams so investigations by security agencies and police can be conducted in all heinous crimes. The October 11 ordinance was issued by the President of Pakistan while he was travelling in Saudi Arabia, whereas official copies of the October 20 ordinance have not been provided to the media. The presidential secretariat has only disclosed its key features and justification, in a detailed hand out to the media. The Daily Dawn, quoting official sources, has reported that under the October 20 ordinance, LEA – including police, military and para-military forces, Pakistan rangers, Frontier Corp and Frontier Constabulary – would be able to enter and search any premises without warrant. The arrested suspects would not be entitled to bail. These forces, on suspicion, can confiscate property, arms, and other household goods without permission from any lawful authority. And anyone found guilty of resisting enforcement of law or legal process will spend 10 years behind bars. Separate police stations will be designated for professional and expeditious investigations of specified crime. The cases will be prosecuted by federal prosecutors – a new force of prosecutors will be created, parallel to the existing prosecution branch. And special jails have been designated to detain hardened criminals. The government has been authorised to create a parallel judiciary through these ordinances. Anti-Terrorist Courts and special prosecutors for terrorist crimes are already in operation. However, through the October 20 'Pakistan Protection Ordinance', the government will make "special courts and special prosecutors" to protect the country. By issuing these ordinances, the government has made the courts under the constitution as redundant. LEAs have also been given authority to violate provincial autonomy, awarded to the provinces through the 18th amendment to the constitution. The ordinances now allow the federation to intervene in provincial affairs to provide complete protection to LEA. They provide legal cover for encroachment on provincial autonomy in the name of 'protection of Pakistan'. The government has justified the promulgation of both ordinances by citing the increasing incidents of terrorism, the need to address delays in trial, the need to restore the security of the people and LEA personnel, and the need to clamp down on anti-state elements with swift justice and timely action on the part of the LEA. The promulgation of ordinances has been a usual practice of Pakistan's past military governments, abrogating the constitution. Civilian governments have, however, also tried to issue such ordinances to avoid a lengthy parliamentary debate. Ordinances take immediate effect, ideal for an autocratic way of governance. Through these ordinances, the government has in effect given legal protection to the rampant practices of disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Pakistan. Disappearances and extrajudicial killings are at alarming levels in Pakistan. Since the year 2000, hundreds of people are missing. Similar numbers of people have been killed extrajudicially in detention centres, torture cells, and in the open. Extrajudicial killings by LEAs are a routine practice, used without compunction by the police, Frontier Corps, and Pakistan Rangers. Providing greater powers through the two ordinances "to restore sense of security, overarching issues related to the security of the people and swift justice", now means that nobody in Pakistan is safe from LEAs. Both the ordinances are in blatant violation of the Pakistan constitution, particularly Article 8 of the constitution, which states the following: 1) Any law, or any custom or usage having the force of law, in so far as it is inconsistent with the rights conferred by this Chapter, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void. (2) The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights so conferred and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of such contravention, be void. The ordinances are also against the Article 24, which guarantees the rights of property and denies the right of the government to confiscate any lawful property. Article 10 of the constitution, providing safeguard to arrest and detention states: (1) No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. (2) Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before a magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the nearest magistrate, and no such person shall be detained in :custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate. The right to fair trial is also guaranteed in the constitution. But these ordinances are fundamentally against fair trial. Article 10 A of the constitution states: For the determination of his civil rights and obligations or in any criminal charge against him a person shall be entitled to a fair trial and due process. The government, instead of reforming its criminal justice system to enable speedy trial, fair investigation, and proper prosecution, has given inordinate power to police, military, and other law enforcement agencies to restrict fundamental rights of the people in the name of fighting terrorism. In light of this, the government of Pakistan must withdraw the ordinances and bring the bills before the parliament for open debate. The government must respect the process of fair trial and rule of law rather than resorting to making draconian laws which curtail the fundamental and constitutional rights of the people. It must also understand that by making draconian laws terrorism cannot be overcome. Rather it will generate more terrorism in different forms. The ordinances are not lawful. The promulgation of the two ordinances negate all procedural guarantees in the Criminal Procedure Code and the constitution. The civil society of Pakistan should own this moment and challenge the constitutional validity of these ordinances and until then must seek judicial intervention to stay the operations of the ordinances. The courts must decide whether Pakistan should continue to be smothered by executive orders or whether the executive writ is also subject to parliamentary supervision.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Any residual doubt that Pakistan is a duplicitous terrorist state was set to rest by the time Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met US President Obama in the White House on Wednesday with leaked US intelligence reports that showed Islamabad acquiesced to Predator strikes on some terrorists targets even as the country's intelligence agencies shielded and helped others. The US president also implicitly accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism. The disclosures relating to drone strikes from 2007 to 2011, when Gen Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari were in power, did not stop Sharif from predetermined talking points during his two-hour meeting with the US president that included pleading for a stop to the attacks. "Pakistan and the United States have a strong ongoing counterterrorism cooperation. We have agreed to further strengthen this cooperation. I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes,' Sharif said with a straight face, with US president next to him. Obama, who had already spoken by then, ignored the drone issue altogether, but praised Sharif for his commitment in trying to reduce "incidents of terrorism inside of Pakistan's borders, and the degree to which these activities may be exported to other countries." Implicit in the remark was that Pakistan is a terrorism-exporting country, and the drone strikes were a legitimate US response in areas where Islamabad has no control and has ceded sovereignty. The fact that Obama grilled Sharif over Islamabad's dodgy approach to terrorism, particularly in reference to India, was confirmed by the Pakistani prime minister himself. "He (Obama) asked, why the trial of the (Mumbai) terrorist attack in India has not started yet," Sharif told reporters soon after the meeting, adding, "He (Obama) has raised the issue of (Dr Shakil) Afridi. He spoke about cross-border movement. He also talked about Jamaat-ud-Dawa." In public though, the US president was careful not to embarrass his guest too much. "We talked about security and the concerns that both of us have about senseless violence, terrorism and extremism. And we agreed that we need to continue to find constructive ways to partner together -- ways that respect Pakistan's sovereignty, that respect the concerns of both countries," Obama said in a nuanced explanation that provided the sub-text to the drones strike imbroglio. The Obama administration was evidently compelled to leak intelligence reports of the back channel agreement on drone strikes with Pakistan after Sharif upped the ante ahead of his meeting with the US president in an address to the US Institute of Peace on Tuesday, saying the attacks infringed on Pakistani sovereignty, it is an irritant in bilateral ties, and he would raise it with Obama. US officials had tried to walk Sharif away from the subject by suggesting that such strikes were inevitable when Islamabad ceded sovereignty to terrorists and was even complicit in their activity, but faced with Sharif's intransigence, partly driven by domestic considerations, the administration leaked a trove of documents to the Washington Post that exposed Pakistan as a dishonest, two-faced country that helped terrorists it considered state assets. The documents, the Post said, show that not only did US officials share information with Pakistan on drone strikes, but the two sides also clashed on occasions over Pakistani military-intelligence agencies being in cahoots with terrorists. These included time-stamped videos of terrorists dispersing material and themselves soon after being tipped off by an intelligence courier that a drone attack, about which US shared information with Pakistan, was imminent. In one case, the report says, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton cited "cell phones and written material from dead bodies that point all fingers" at a militant group based in Pakistan. "The US had intelligence proving ISI was involved with these groups," she is cited as saying. In another case, CIA deputy director Mike Morell is said to indicate that the CIA was prepared to share credit with Pakistanis for a drone strike if the agency could confirm that it had killed Ilyas Kashmiri, an al-Qaida operative suspected of ties to plots against India. The agency would do so "so that the negative views about Pakistan in the US decision and opinion making circles are mitigated." Overall, the disclosures suggest that the United States is cognizant of Pakistan's sponsorship of terrorism, but instead of punishing the country, it will selectively leak information to walk it back from its self-destructive path. US President Obama's explicit reference to Pakistan exporting terrorism is the closest the US has come to publicly outing it as a terrorist entity. But there is no indication though that Pakistan, dubbed Denialistan in some quarters, recognizes the gravity of the charges. In his USIP address, Sharif went so far as to assert that "Pakistan is neither source of nor epicenter of terrorism," even though his own political party, the Pakistan Muslim League, has well-chronicled links with terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The government in Punjab led by his brother is reported to make budgetary allocations to the internationally banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba aka Jamaat ul-Dawa, even as Washington appropriates US tax-payer dollars as aid to Pakistan. None of these complications or contradictions is reflected in the 2500-word joint statement issued at the conclusion of the Obama-Sharif meeting. The statement, along with an elaborate fact-sheet, manages the optics of the visit and suggests that all is -- or will be -- hunky-dory between the two sides as the U.S tries to manage the relationship ahead of its 2014 drawdown from Afghanistan.
As expected, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif failed to get any traction with President Barack Obama on his wish list - US mediation on Kashmir, nuclear parity with India and an end to drone strikes on suspected terror dens in Pakistani territory. Despite being rebuffed by both India and the US, Sharif did once again dutifully raise Kashmir during his two hour meeting with Obama at the White House, but the joint statement made no mention of it or the drones. Speaking to the media with Obama after their Oval office meeting, Sharif said he was committed to cooperation with India, including on Kashmir. And while India has described Pakistan as the "epicentre of terrorism" and linked any progress on peace talks to Islamabad shutting down its "machinery of terrorism" he told Obama that "terrorism constitutes a common threat" for Pakistan and India. "We need to ally our respective concerns through serious and sincere efforts without indulging in any blame game," Sharif said. He had also "brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes," he said. Obama, on his part, made no mention of either Kashmir or drone strikes in Pakistan that according to Sharif "has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship" besides being a "a continual violation of our territorial integrity." Acknowledging tensions and "misunderstandings" between the two countries, Obama said he and Sharif had pledged to work together on security issues in ways that "respect Pakistan's sovereignty. "We committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries, this can be a source of strength for us working together," he said. Obama also praised Sharif for seeking to end tensions with India saying, "I think he is taking a very wise path in exploring how decades of tension between India and Pakistan can be reduced." Noting that "billions of dollars have been spent on an arms race in response to these tensions," he said those resources could be much more properly invested in education, social welfare programmes on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan. The joint statement noted that "the two Leaders stressed that improvement in Pakistan-India bilateral relations would greatly enhance prospects for lasting regional peace, stability, and prosperity, as it would significantly benefit the lives of citizens on both sides of the border." In this context, it said Obama welcomed recent engagements between Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He "expressed hope that this would mark the beginning of a sustained dialogue process between the two neighbours, aimed at building lasting peace in South Asia and resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes through peaceful means." Obama also "welcomed steps taken by Pakistan and India to improve their economic relations, including by exploring electricity and gas supply agreements, developing a reciprocal visa regime, and expanding bilateral trade." Obama and Sharif, the statement said also "welcomed progress on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, and tasked the Energy Working Group to explore possible further US support for the Central Asia-South Asia electricity line, CASA-1000, in close collaboration with the World Bank." Reflecting the focus of the Obama-Sharif session, the joint statement mentioned "terrorism" 13 times saying both leaders "condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They also "emphasized that no country's territory should be used to destabilize its neighbours." The word nuclear too figured ten times in the joint statement, not in the context of India type civil nuclear deal that Sharif wanted, but in the context of nuclear terrorism. Obama and Sharif, the joint statement said "emphasised that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security" and "underscored that all sides should continuously act with maximum restraint and work jointly toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia."
Secret US documents reveal that senior Pakistani government officials have for years known of and endorsed CIA drone strikes, an American newspaper reports. The Washington Post obtained CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos which indicate officials were routinely given classified briefings. Analysts have long suspected Pakistan gave tacit consent for such strikes despite publicly condemning them. Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif has urged US President Obama to halt such attacks. "I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasising the need for an end to such strikes," Mr Sharif said after they met on Wednesday. The attacks by unmanned US aircraft have been a critical source of tension in the relationship between the countries and came up amid wide-ranging talks between the leaders in Washington. They are also deeply unpopular with the Pakistani public and Pakistan has consistently stated that they violate its sovereignty. The Pakistani government is yet to comment on the report. 'Explicit arrangement' The documents obtained by the newspaper focus on at least 65 drone strikes in Pakistan over the last few years and were labelled as "talking points" for regular CIA briefings. Although they are marked "top secret", they are cleared for release to Pakistan, the paper reports. The Washington Post says the documents provide a detailed timeline of the CIA drone programme "tracing its evolution from a campaign aimed at a relatively short list of senior al-Qaeda operatives into a broader aerial assault against militant groups with no connection to the 11 September 2001 attacks". A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper and the CIA also declined to comment. Correspondents say the files expose the explicit nature of the arrangement between the countries in the period when neither acknowledged that any drone programme even existed. In 2010 the controversial whistle-blowing site Wikileaks released numerous documents relating to Pakistan which showed the Pakistani military and other arms of the government had "quietly acquiesced" with drone strikes even though they publicly condemned them. In August 2008 then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is reported to have said: "I don't care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it." But this latest cache includes documents which appear to refer to a direct Pakistani role in the selection of targets, with the newspaper referring to one 2010 entry describing hitting a location "at the request of your government". There is also a reference to a "network of locations associated with a joint CIA-ISI targeting effort". Civilian casualties The number of civilian casualties in these drone strikes has long been a source of dispute. Local claims of civilian deaths are almost impossible to prove. One reason is the restricted media access in the region. The other is the militants' tendency to cordon off the targeted sites and conduct quick burials. Earlier this week, Amnesty International released a report which said that CIA drone attacks in Pakistan are responsible for unlawful killings, some of which could amount to war crimes. The rights group named several victims who, it says, "posed no threat to life". Amnesty said it reviewed nine of 45 recent drone strikes in the volatile tribal region of North Waziristan where many strikes have hit, and found a number of victims had been unarmed. The US has defended its drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. On Tuesday the White House said it takes "extraordinary care" to ensure they comply with international law and that they were a "course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life". A recent UN report also found that US drone strikes had killed at least 400 civilians in Pakistan, far more than the US has ever acknowledged. Estimates by other groups such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism calculate that between 407 and 926 civilians were killed in Pakistan. The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that the general impression one gets from talking to elders and correspondents from the tribal area is that drone strikes are for the most part accurate, causing fewer civilian casualties than some reports suggest. Relations between Islamabad and Washington nosedived more than two years ago, when US special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad in north-west Pakistan, without giving the Pakistani government advance warning. But in their meeting on Wednesday, Mr Sharif said the US and Pakistan "have travelled together as friends and allies in defence of freedom and the pursuit of international peace and security".