Thursday, November 14, 2013
The President encourages Americans to support organizations assisting with typhoon recovery.
President Obama bowed to political pressure from his fellow Democrats and announced a plan to let insurers renew for one year the health plans for Americans whose policies would be otherwise canceled due to Obamacare.
Haven't we been here before? The assassination of a high-profile militant living large under the noses of the authorities has rekindled suspicions that Pakistan shelters known terrorists. The November 10 killing of Nasiruddin Haqqani, considered to be the financier of the Haqqani network, drew obvious comparisons to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's death on Pakistani soil in 2011. Both were considered masterminds of their terrorist organizations, both were wanted by the United States, and both were living in large homes among the local population. But even compared to bin Laden, who hid in a safe house within sight of a prestigious military academy in Abbottabad, Haqqani's case stands out. He appears to have been living luxuriously in Islamabad, with several homes there, and often frequented the capital's markets and restaurants. Retired Pakistani Army Brigadier General Mehmood Shah says the circumstances of Nasiruddin Haqqani's death -- he was shot on the street as he bought bread at a bakery -- are deeply troubling for Pakistan. "The big question now is what was he doing in Islamabad?" Shah says. "We were assuming that the Haqqani network only operated in [the remote tribal region of] North Waziristan. And even there they were thought to be based close to the border with Afghanistan." The Haqqani network, led by Nasiruddin's aging father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and managed by his younger brother Sirajuddin Haqqani, was widely believed to operate out of northwest Pakistan and be active only in southeastern Afghanistan. Pakistan 'Appears Guilty' For a leading member of the group to have been living in the capital and reportedly using it as a launching pad for fund-raising trips to Arab Gulf states came as a big surprise even to close observers. Nasiruddin Haqqani's "presence in Islamabad was deeply humiliating for Pakistan," Shah says. "This will be another reason to malign Pakistan, but Pakistan appears guilty in this whole affair." Family patriarch Jalaluddin Haqqani and his network were once on the side of United States and Pakistan, fighting as proxies in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. After emerging as a leading guerrilla commander in Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani sided with the Taliban in the 1990s. After the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the Haqqani network evolved into the most lethal Taliban faction. Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai says Nasiruddin Haqqani was considered a guiding spirit behind the organization because he raised funds, provided strategic guidance, mediated disputes, and networked widely. In 2010, Washington designated Nasiruddin Haqqani a "global terrorist" and, later that year, he is believed to have been briefly detained in northwestern Pakistan. Free To Roam? Yousafzai says Nasiruddin Haqqani's presence in Islamabad showcases the freedom with which Afghan insurgent groups such as the Haqqani network operate in Pakistan. But he also notes that his death shows their safety is not assured. "This killing shows that people who are being sought by the United States and Western intelligence services are overconfident about their safety in Pakistan," Yousafzai says. "They probably think that those who declared them terrorists -- and have even announced bounties for their killing or capture -- cannot do anything against them inside Pakistan." Islamabad has been tight-lipped about Nasiruddin Haqqani's assassination. But earlier this month, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told lawmakers that his country maintains cordial relations with the Afghan Taliban. "All the warring factions inside Afghanistan have positive relations with the Pakistani Army and the government of Pakistan," Nisar said. "We have good relations with the Afghan Taliban. The state of our relations with the Afghan Taliban is improving." 'Arm' Of Pakistani Intelligence In September 2011, a former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, described the Haqqani network as "a veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Pakistani government has repeatedly denied such accusations, but the network's lasting war-hero status and Nasiruddin Haqqani's ability to evade capture have rekindled suspicions. Journalist Yousafzai suggests that Islamabad has never gone after Afghan insurgents because it does not want to risk angering their hardline supporters in Pakistan. And, he says, there is a general view that there is no compelling reason to do so. "The thinking now inside Pakistan is that if the Americans can negotiate with the Taliban and can even establish an office in Qatar to facilitate talks with them," Yousafzai says, "then it is not necessary to move decisively against the Afghan Taliban."
Pakistani authorities appear to have few clues in the mysterious murder of a senior Afghan Taliban leader in the capital. Police in Islamabad, where Nasiruddin Haqqani was gunned down outside a ramshackle bakery on November 10, have said little about his killing. A police officer in the Bhara Kahu neighborhood confirmed to BBC that Nasiruddin lived there, and the police are still investigating his slaying. But the killing of one of Pakistan's long-time Afghan jihadist allies has prompted much speculation about who might have been behind the brazen assassination of one of the top leaders of the Haqqani Network, which is considered the most lethal faction of the Afghan Taliban. Tribal Feud? One source close to the Afghan Taliban suggested to RFE/RL that Nasiruddin might have been the victim of a tribal feud within the large Zadran tribe, whose homeland in the southeastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika is the key theater for Haqqani Network operations. The source, requesting anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said the feud began after the murder of an Afghan man in Islamabad two years ago. The source described the victim as the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, Haji Khalil Zadran, who had reportedly vowed to avenge his son's killing. (The "Daily Beast" cited reports of a feud but identified the victim as Zadran's brother.) "The New York Times" recently reported that Zadran tribe members had previously broken ties with the Haqqanis because of their association with Pakistan. In addition, Haqqani fighters have targeted tribal leaders and terrorized villagers. The tribe observes an ancient tradition of reprisal killings in family or clan disputes that can last for generations. Pakistani Taliban The source close to the Afghan Taliban also singled out the Pakistani Taliban as another group that might have been behind Nasiruddin's murder. He said that slain Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had turned against the Haqqanis because of their long-standing alliance with Pakistan's powerful military establishment. The source said Taliban insiders had told him that days before his death, Hakimullah Mehsud had vowed to take on the Haqqanis and Asamatullah Muawiya, leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction now sheltering with the Haqqanis in their North Waziristan stronghold. The source said that Mehsud had publicly chided the Haqqanis for their alleged ties with Pakistani intelligence services. A senior Pakistani politician told RFE/RL that the Haqqani sanctuary in North Waziristan was threatened by a deepening rift with Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a powerful Pakistani Taliban leader. The politician said that Bahadar and his supporters were unhappy with Nasiruddin's brother Sirajuddin Haqqani because of his support for radical fighters from the eastern Pakistani province of Punjab. Such fighters, dubbed Punjabi Taliban in Pakistan, are widely seen as insensitive to local sentiments in North Waziristan, whose Pashtun population strongly resents the decade-long insecurity in the region. The BBC reported that the Taliban factions and allied extremists are uneasy over the prospect of a power struggle after NATO's withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan next year. A BBC report said that the Haqqanis are opposed by local militants from Waziristan over the former's presumed ties to Pakistani intelligence services. But the Haqqanis now face additional pressure from the Punjabi Taliban, who are said to have turned against the Haqqanis despite being initially hosted by them. Intelligence Services? For its part, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban's umbrella alliance, has accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of orchestrating Nasiruddin's murder. Pakistan's daily "The News" reported that Nasiruddin's assassination might herald the end of a decades-old alliance between the Haqqanis and the Pakistani intelligence services. The newspaper said Islamabad was unhappy with ties between the Haqqanis and the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan. In late 2010, Washington designated Nasiruddin a "global terrorist." U.S. Navy SEALs killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin near Islamabad in the garrison town of Abbottabad in May 2011. Scores of Pakistani, Afghan, Arab, and Central Asian militant leaders have died in suspected U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan and the adjacent tribal regions during the past few years.
The United States will knock off Saudi Arabia as the world's top energy producer by 2015, but its power as a global energy force will fade over the next decade, according to a report from the International Energy Agency. Massive investment in the production of shale gas has driven the U.S. supply boom, thanks in large part to new technologies such as hydraulic fracking, which has made the extraction of oil and gas from shale rock commercially viable. But limited reserves will cap the surge in shale oil output within the next 10 years. "Shale oil is good news for the U.S, but we do not expect this trend will continue after the 2020s," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told reporters Tuesday, at the launch of the 2013 World Energy Outlook in London. That will translate into an increase in OPEC producers' share of global output since those nations would remain the only large source of relatively low cost oil. "Middle East oil is crucial to the global oil industry today, and also tomorrow," Birol said.The OPEC oil cartel, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, controls the vast majority of world oil reserves. As a major exporter, top producer Saudi Arabia is critical to future energy supplies. By contrast, the United States relies on its newfound energy wealth to power domestic consumption. Birol said despite the growth in U.S. energy supplies, the new era isn't one of "oil abundance," due to demand pressures and declining production from existing crude fields. The IEA also noted that power-hungry Asia will continue to re-shape the global energy landscape. About two-thirds of future world energy demand will come from the region. India will take over from China as the biggest energy demand center around 2020. The Middle East will also have a rising impact on demand. By 2035 the Middle East will consume the same amount of oil as China does today, according to the IEA. To top of page
For the first time since 2011, the Russian and Syrian presidents spoke on the phone to discuss developments in the Syria crisis. Vladimir Putin called Bashar Assad about the Geneva-2 peace talks and the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpile. President Putin called President Assad to talk about the preparations for the Syria peace talks, and to share Russia’s concerns over the reports of a surge in extremist persecution of religious minorities in Syria, the Kremlin press service said on Thursday. The Russian President said he hopes that major Syrian opposition groups will take “a constructive approach” and participate in the peace conference in Geneva. Putin told Assad he was “satisfied” with Syria’s cooperation with the UN and the OPCW (International Chemical Weapons Watchdog). The presidents discussed the procedure for bringing the Syrian chemical arsenal under international control and its ultimate destruction. Putin said he was concerned with “purposeful persecution of Christians and other religious minorities” by extremist groups in Syria. He said Russia hopes the Syrian government “will do everything possible to relieve the suffering of the civilian population and to restore the peace.” Assad thanked the Russian government for “aiding the Syrian people,” and the two presidents confirmed they intend to foster bilateral relations further. The Geneva-2 peace talks, brokered by the US and Russia, have not yet been scheduled officially, although they were tentatively planned for November 23. Syrian official media recently said the date has been set for December 12, but this has not been officially confirmed. While Russia has been pushing the international community for months to start the talks, and the Syrian government has repeatedly said it is ready to participate without preconditions, Western powers are still struggling to bring the opposition groups to the negotiation table. Recently, the leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Ahmad Jarba, told the Sunday Telegraph the group will agree to take part in talks on condition that the West ensures humanitarian corridors to the opposition strongholds in Syria. Previously, Jarba rejected the possibility of attending the Geneva-2, demanding that President Bashar Assad must go.
Musician and writer Daniyal Noorani created animated cartoons that took on Islamic extremism in Pakistan. But even though their message was peaceful, TV stations there would not run them.
Viruses cross borders invisibly and dangerously. The fighting in Syria has made that especially easy for polioThe polio virus that crippled at least 13 Syrian children last month originated in Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It does not look as if the disease came into the country with Pakistani militants aligned with rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad, as was alleged last week by a government official. Instead, it appears it has been lurking in the Middle East region for at least a year, seeking any opportunity to infect a vulnerable population. It finally got its chance in Syria, where the ongoing conflict has obstructed the vaccination campaigns that are the only way to ensure the virus stops in its tracks. Before this most recent outbreak, Syria had been polio-free since 1999. It is conflict in Pakistan’s tribal areas that has allowed the virus to flourish and hitch a ride west, demonstrating that as long as polio has a foothold in one country, no other country is safe. Genetic sequencing of the virus that spread through Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, threatening tens of thousands of unvaccinated children, indicates that this particular strain is closely related to samples discovered in the sewage systems of Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Israel and the West Bank late last year. “With large-scale population movements ongoing within and between Syria and surrounding countries, it is very unlikely that it will ever be possible to state definitively how the virus came into the country,” says the WHO’s polio-eradication spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer. “This is the big danger with this disease, in that it can travel across wide geographic areas with population movements.” In response, the WHO has mounted a massive, region-wide campaign that aims to vaccinate some 20 million children under the age of 5 in the next six months. It will be an expensive and arduous undertaking, with no guarantees that vaccination teams will reach the most vulnerable children before the virus does. The only way to protect every single child from a crippling disease that has no cure is to eradicate the virus entirely. The world is tantalizingly close to that goal: after a 28-year campaign, polio is endemic in only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Even those outliers are on their way toward complete eradication. But a recent antivaccine movement spearheaded by the Pakistani Taliban has threatened Pakistan’s progress. Taliban leaders have banned polio vaccinations in their areas as long as U.S. drones continue to attack militants. Several health workers who defied the ban have since been shot or killed. The result: 56 children have been paralyzed in Pakistan so far this year, up from 48 last year. “Taliban leaders are essentially holding their own children hostage, just to stop drones,” says Aziz Memon, Rotary International’s PolioPlus chairman for Pakistan, by telephone. By doing so, he says, they are threatening the rest of the world’s children. “This virus is vicious. It is going to travel, and it will seek out the vulnerable. The only way to prevent outbreaks like the one we are seeing in Syria is to stop it here in Pakistan. And the sooner the better.” Read more: Pakistan Infects Syria With Polio, Says the WHO | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/11/13/pakistani-polio-hits-syria-proving-no-country-is-safe-until-all-are/#ixzz2kdROlmtC
The Jamaat-e-Islami never misses an opportunity to be on the wrong side of history. Since its inception, it has acted against the interests of the very people it pretends to serve. Last week Syed Munawar Hassan, who heads Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami (Jamaat), declared the former head of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakeemullah Mehsud, a martyr. Mehsud reportedly died of a missile fired from an unmanned drone in North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army took serious offense to the statement by Mr. Hassan and found it insulting to the memory of thousands of soldiers who have died fighting militants.
Qaumi Wattan Party (QWP) has announced to quit Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), SAMAA reports on Thursday. Addressing a press conference here‚ QWP Chairman Sikandar Sherpao leveled series of allegations against PTI leaders. He said a new drama was started to befool the people. Sherpao told media that his party’s reservations were not being addressed. He further added that PTI never consulted the QWP leadership over decision-making when it came to matters relating to politics and governance. “PTI does not look serious in closing NATO supply routes” he added.
Bilawal Bhutto urges Muslims to adopt Hazrat Imam Hussain’s character, pays rich tributes to Shohda-e-Karbala
The incident of Karbala is remembered as historical event which established the lasting example of rendering sacrifice for upholding truth and principles. The Jihad fought by Hazrat Imam Hussain along with his companions is a shining minaret of courage, patience perseverance and determination, said PPP Patron in his message on Yom-i-Ashur falling on November 15, 2013. He said that today nation was passing through difficult phase as tyranny at the hands of militants continues to stark the country. “Islam is a religion of peace and forbids killing in the name of religion,” he said. “At this juncture of our country’s history, we reiterate our resolve that no matter what the odds, we shall not submit before the tyranny of militants who want to impose their distorted ideology upon us and continue the struggle for a just, plural, moderate and enlightened Pakistan,” he further said. PPP Patron appealed to people to rise above sectarianism and forge unity amongst them and to fight the forces that want to surrender Pakistan at the altar of narrow-mindedness and evil. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the best way to pay tribute to Hazrat Imam Hussain, the leader of all martyrs, is to adopt his character and face difficulties with courage. “In this way we can not only overcome all difficulties but we can also adopt the real teachings of Islam and succeed in this life and hereafter,” he added.
Former President Asif Ali Zardari has asked the nation to forge unity and harmony on the solemn occasion of Yom-e-Ashura and urged people to be cautious of those who want to destroy sectarian harmony in the country.
Dr Mohammad Taqi
Talking to the senators from the tribal areas in a meeting, President Mamnoon Hussein assured of efforts to bring Fata into the mainstream. Every president and prime minister since the creation of this country has stated his intention to bring Fata at par with the rest of Pakistan; it is easier said than done, as even after over six decades; Fata is centuries behind the rest of Pakistan. Such statements by presidents and prime minister regarding Fata are usual and traditional; it, however, is also traditional and tragic that the Fata MPs only promote their personal agendas during these meetings. These MPs are not even embarrassed and do not object when Gilgit-Baltistan, a much smaller entity and with not even half the population, gets double the funds compared to Fata. Regardless of the apathy of the Fata MPs towards their people, the current president and prime minister cannot be so naïve and lacking in knowledge and commonsense that unless peace and progress comes to the tribal areas there never will be peace in the country; also, the progress and prosperity in the rest of Pakistan will be impeded by the lack of law and order in the tribal areas. It is not necessary that the selfishness of the Fata MPs should blind the president and prime minister to what is in the national interest. It is in the national interest to create conditions in Fata conducive to make the lifestyle of the tribal people compatible with the rest of the country. But that is not all; because the conditions in the tribal areas are wild and unstable, the government has been unable to tap the vast underground resources there, said to be more in abundance than in any area in the country; Khyber Agency alone is said to have more oil reserves than the rest of Pakistan. In fact, all the seven agencies comprising Fata are extremely rich in underground mineral resources; but, because there is no proper civil administration to make things orderly, especially law and order there, these resources can not be manipulated. It is a shame that no prime minister and president has been bold enough to make revolutionary decisions regarding the tribal areas that can not only turn around the situation in Fata but the rest of the country as well. Basically, Fata and Pakistan cannot hold together unless sincere and speedy steps are taken to bring the tribes at par with the rest of the nation and make their lifestyle compatible with the people living in other parts of the country. Incompatibility among people in itself is a recipe for separation and making the areas comprising of Fata and Pata into a single province is the only remedy to remove the incompatibility in attitudes and lifestyle between the settled and tribal areas. However, the talk of merging Fata and Pata with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will only cause heartburns to the tribes in these areas. The people of Fata and Pata consider themselves, their coming from the same stock notwithstanding, as socially different and geographically separate from the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Because the tribes don\'t have a province of their own, the elections taking place in these areas are hardly credible. In the absence of regular law enforcement agencies, individuals with most guns at their disposal, not votes, win elections. In fact, the people of the tribal areas don\'t think their so-called elected representatives different from the \'yes men\' as tribal elders\' appointed by the political agents inside Fata. Nor do they expect anything from the Fata MPs other than the advancement of their personal interests in their meetings in Islamabad. Creating a province out of the areas comprising Fata and Pata will revolutionise the tribal areas. Right now the twenty-million tribesmen don\'t even have one university. The reason of such and many other omissions is that their fates have been left to the whims of the so-called MPs and bureaucrats appointed either by Islamabad or the Islamabad-appointed governor in Peshawar. The Frontier Post strongly urges both the president and the prime minister to initiate steps for the creation of a province comprising of Fata and Pata. A full fledged province with its own provincial assembly; it own high court and lower judiciary; its own local government system; its own regular police force will bring the affairs there in order. The seven agencies of Fata, and the area of Pata can be declared as districts of the proposed province. Things will become normal once there is a modern civil administration placed there. The terrorists, in such a case, will find that the space for them in Fata and Pata is fast shrivelling. Also, the country will be able to bring into use the enormous underground riches there. The proposed province will prosper and so will the nation. What is more the federal government will have increased ability to act against militants. The presence of regular law enforcement forces is the main reason that Taliban have to stealthily sneak in the provinces instead of roaming in big gangs as they do in Fata. It is hoped that the president and the prime minister will see the light in this regard.
The killing of one of Pakistan's most wanted Islamic militants in a U.S. drone strike has exposed centuries-old rivalries within the group he led, the Pakistani Taliban, making the insurgency ever more unpredictable and probably more violent. Hakimullah Mehsud's death this month has set off a power struggle within the outfit's ranks, which could further unnerve a region already on tenterhooks with most U.S.-led troops pulling out of neighboring Afghanistan in 2014. When a tribal council declared Mullah Fazlullah as the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban last week, several furious commanders from a rival clan stood up and left. "When Fazlullah's name was announced, they ... walked out saying, 'The Taliban's command is doomed'," said one commander who attended the November 7 'shura' meeting in South Waziristan, a lawless Pakistani tribal region on the Afghan border. Others at the shura declared loyalty to the hardline new leader and stayed on to map out a plan to avenge Hakimullah's death through a new campaign of bombings and shootings. "This is the start of our fight with the Pakistan government, an American puppet," the Taliban official said. "Those who forced the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan are capable of breaking up Pakistan," he added, alluding to senior commanders whose rite of passage into war started with the rebellion against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Pakistani Taliban have always been divided, a loose alliance of militant bands united only by jihadist beliefs and their hatred of the government and all things Western. The group operates independently of its Taliban allies in Afghanistan, who are fighting U.S.-backed forces there. But the death of Hakimullah, a member of the dominant Mehsud tribe, and the rise of Fazlullah, a Swat Valley native and hence an outsider in the eyes of tribesmen, changes the picture in the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban. Under Hakimullah, the TTP had been open to the idea of peace talks with the Pakistani government, even though no meaningful negotiations had taken place. Fazlullah ruled out any talks and declared the start of a new campaign to attack government and security installations in Punjab, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's political base. "Mehsuds are not only not happy with this appointment but there are reports of serious infighting among them that might come to the fore in the near future," said Saifullah Mahsud, director of the Pakistani think tank FATA Research Center. "I think for now the anti-peace talks group among the TTP has prevailed and hence the appointment of Fazlullah," said Mahsud, who compiles data based on information provided by his sources on the ground in the tribal Pashtun areas. AFGHAN LINKS Fazlullah's threat against Punjab has unnerved Pakistan's most prosperous and populous province, where attacks have so far been rare. Various Pakistani militant groups, including the Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, are based around Punjab and have been long tolerated or even sponsored by Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence establishment. Some of them were set up to fight Indian forces in disputed Kashmir, but they have turned on Pakistan in recent years thanks to the growing influence of the TTP and al Qaeda, and have become increasingly involved in Taliban affairs. "The situation is getting out of control and the ISI knows that," said one Western diplomat in the capital Islamabad, referring to the Pakistani military's powerful intelligence arm. As the dynamic within the militancy evolves, powerful Punjabi groups are also beginning to turn their heads westwards, with many seeing the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as a chance to expand their reach to tribal areas. During a recent meeting with Reuters in the Pashtun city of Mardan, a group of militants - who sat cross-legged on the floor of a mud-brick safe house sipping tea and eating biscuits - said the Afghan cause was close to their hearts "We want peace in Afghanistan under Mullah Omar's leadership," said Abdurakhman, a militant with Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group usually focused on Kashmir, others nodding in agreement. Mullah Omar is the chief of the Afghan Taliban. "When the Americans leave, elders will sit down with Mullah Omar and decide. If there is a need to fight, we will recruit and send people there." Sitting next to him, Farhatullah, a middle-aged man with the Hizbul Mujahideen group, said he used to fight against Indian forces in Kashmir but was now ready to go to Afghanistan. "We are the reserve force," he said. "If needed I will ... take my gun, go there and fight." RIFT The TTP publicly rubbishes any talk of a major rift among its ranks. A Taliban spokesman has confirmed Fazlullah's appointment and said there would be no more peace talks with the government. Operatives from al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, a powerful militant group based in the mountains of North Waziristan, are also working hard to smooth over any disputes, sources say. Mullah Omar, the reclusive, one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, is said to have stepped into the debate and backed Fazlullah's candidacy. Fazlullah knows Omar personally, having fought alongside his men in Afghanistan in 2001. Fazlullah is still holed up in his base in Nuristan, a thickly forested Afghan region favoured by many Pakistani militants hiding from U.S. drones. To reassert control over feuding groups he would have to come back and establish a foothold in Pakistan. "He is a non-resident commander, he is not present physically," said a Pakistani intelligence source. "But he has two advantages: He's got a lot of money and he has Afghan support."
Police defused a 20 kilogram remote-controlled bomb in the Achini Bala area on the outskirts of Peshawar on Thursday, foiling a major terrorist attack in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, DawnNews reported. Police sources said the bomb was planted in the middle of the patch of Ring Road that comes in the Achini Bala area. Upon receiving information, police called the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) to defuse the bomb. The BDS through water charges defused the 20 kilogram remote controlled-bomb. Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, lies on the edge of Pakistan's tribal areas which have been labelled by Washington as the main sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country. The city has seen frequent attacks by militants in the past few years, with targets ranging from civilians to policemen and other law enforcement personnel.
A suicide bombing attempt was foiled in Islamabad and the alleged suicide bomber and mastermind were arrested, Express News reported on Thursday. According to initial reports, they were planning to attack the Imambargah in Sector G-6, Islamabad on Muharram 9, but security forces foiled the attack by arresting them the night before. Police also seized suicide jackets and other equipment from them. The alleged suicide bomber and the mastermind behind the attack were identified as Muhammad Saeed Abdullah and Matiullah. Karachi Raid On November 13, three alleged militants of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed during a raid by Rangers personnel in the Gulshan-e-Buner area of Landhi, Karachi. The security officers raided TTP hideouts after receiving a tip off that the militants were planning an attack on the 10th of Muharram. The militants reportedly retaliated and during the exchange of fire, one Rangers official also lost his life. Hand grenades and weapons were also seized during the operation.
Expressing serious concerns over steep the increase in the prices of essential commodities, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah on Tuesday lashed out at the government saying it had crushed the masses to please the IMF. Speaking on a point of order, the opposition leader said a surge in the prices of flour, electricity and petroleum products had added to the miseries of the common man. Khursheed Shah said potatoes were being sold for Rs90 per kg, tomatoes for Rs200 per kg while the price of flour had increased to Rs50 per kg. He said the leaders of the ruling party, when in the opposition, used to dub the petroleum levy as ‘Jagga Tax’ but now their own government is continuously increasing the petroleum prices. He also criticised the government for suppressing the voice of those who were protesting against the hike in the power tariffs. Khursheed Shah said we would not accept the privatisation of major state institutions including Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills at throwaway prices. He said National Savings and National Bank of Pakistan are profit-earning entities and they should not be privatised. He said the overseas Pakistanis are contributing greatly to the national economy by sending 16 billion dollars in remittances annually.
http://www.financialexpress.com/US President Barack Obama's elder daughter Malia and Pakistani girls' education activist Malala Yousafzai have been named among the 16 most influential teens of 2013 by Time magazine.