Sunday, January 5, 2014
The West failed to detect the changes that surfaced during the second tenure of the AKP government after 2007, according to journalist Sedat Ergin. As Europeans and Americans had blinkers, they were unable to see the steps that were incompatible with the values of liberal democracy, says ErginThe EU and the US failed to detect the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) deviation from democratic values early enough, according to journalist Sedat Ergin. The Europeans and the Americans did not help Turkish democracy with their complacent attitude, Ergin said, adding that on the contrary this attitude inflicted damage. What has been happening since Dec. 17? Turkey has entered a new period. This is an open ended process, we don’t know how it will unfold. But when it comes to its final stage, it is very probable that the political landscape and the legal framework will look somewhat different than today. Sometimes a constellation of events triggers a momentum that changes the course of history. Therefore, I see a new momentum that will profoundly impact Turkey’s political and legal structures in the future. Can you elaborate? The government’s narrative of the past decade has been seriously altered with the crisis. The paradigm of a political equilibrium based on the sole dominance of the AKP has been altered. On the question of what will replace it, I have no doubt that the AKP will still be the prevailing actor in the new landscape that will come to the surface. But we will encounter a new alignment of power where the power concentration in the hands of the AKP will be contained to a certain degree. This will make Turkish politics more balanced. However, we will pass through a very turbulent period in the short term. All the scenarios that have been bought for the short term on the future of Turkish politics have been upended. There is a huge degree of uncertainty. We do not know what will come out of the corruption waves. We have a fog in front of us and we are not sure what is behind the fog. Most probably a few weeks ago the prime minister thought his election to the presidency was granted. Probably, he no longer sees with similar clarity. So we will pass through a period of uncertainty where all scenarios will have to be revised. Another trend is that there will be a serious contention in Turkey, a tug of war. We will witness a power struggle between the government and a religious community that has penetrated the bureaucracy. It will be a severe conflict from which both sides will emerge with losses at the end. Are you claiming that the governmental alliance has dissolved for good? Initially, I thought that the government and the “cemaat” (Gülen community) would reach a modus vivendi; I thought they would refrain from an all-out exchange where they used their entire arsenal. I thought the interests of both sides would dictate that an escalation should be avoided. But it seems that the conflict has already passed that stage. The power bloc behind the government is dissolving and this has also brought something to the surface. The fact that the cemaat was setting up a parallel state within the state is an issue that has been debated for a long time; in fact, back in the 1990s the military was complaining about this. It wouldn’t be wrong to anticipate a huge contention when the government tries to cleanse the state cadres of the cemaat, especially within the police and judiciary. This has become a zero sum game. And we should not underestimate the power of the cemaat. It would be wrong to think that the government will totally eliminate this type of community; the Gülen cemaat will still somehow have its presence in the new balance of power, but its impact within the state will have been relatively weakened. However, its global network will remain intact. We do see a consensus coming around in Turkish society that an autonomous power domain within the state cannot be tolerated. This is not compatible with a true democracy where the rule of law prevails. This will pressure the cemaat to transform itself, to become more transparent, and to redefine itself and its methods. A soul searching awaits the cemaat in the coming period. What happened that led to the breakup of the partnership? Problems emerged after the 2011 elections when Erdoğan secured 50 percent of the votes. He did not want to share his powers any longer. By nature, he does not like to share power; he likes to call all the shots. But the cemaat started to show a tendency of expanding its space within the state apparatus where it already had a strong presence. This led to tensions and prime minister felt the need to stop it. Power, at the end of the day, is indivisible. There were also a series of mistakes committed by the cemaat. In this respect, freelancing was a major problem. Certain operations by the police and the judiciary were conducted without the knowledge of the government. There was a stage when things went out of control. Some of these operations began to move against the government. For example, the attempt to arrest the head of the intelligence organization, Hakan Fidan, was a major rupture between the AKP and the cemaat back in 2012. We should also not underestimate the visits to Fethullah Gülen by some prominent members of the business community. Why did they feel the need to go to Pennsylvania and visit him? The prime minister knew about it and had misgivings. This has led him to feel concerned that another power center was emerging. At the end of the day, this autonomous power structure within the state became unacceptable for the government. The Dec. 17 operation was the final straw on the camel’s back. Some believe that the government is right in targeting the Gülen cemaat, as who else would do that job otherwise. You can punish the AKP at the ballot box, but not the Gülenists. A state has a Constitution, laws, and public officials have to abide by the Constitution, laws and the directives of the elected political authority. If this is not the case and if public officials act under directions given by authorities outside the state apparatus, for example those of a religious community, then we have gone beyond the boundaries of legitimacy in state affairs. But there are those who also think the government is taking action at the expense of democracy. We are faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, there are corruption cases against the government. Obviously everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but some of the allegations are too serious to ignore. The fact that the prime minister couldn’t hold onto three of his ministers is proof that these allegations are too serious to ignore. If Turkey is a democracy where the rule of law prevails, we need to see that these charges are properly investigated and brought before the courts. But when we look at how these corruption cases came to light we become confused. There is a moral dilemma. On the one hand there are corruption allegations that look credible and that need to be investigated, but on the other hand we see that these allegations emerged as an outcome of a power struggle between the government and the cemaat. Acknowledging this fact should not lead us to ignore the corruption charges. So this is the big test for Turkey: a) the corruption charges need to be investigated; b) autonomous structures within the state need to be abolished; c) this should be done within the boundaries of the rule of law, and the effort here should not lead to further authoritarianism on the part of the Erdoğan government. This looks like mission impossible. Yes, it is mission impossible. I hope we can overcome the present chaos. We have some guiding principles. We need to make sure that we remain committed to the principles of democracy and the rule of law. In the short term, I see only turbulence ahead. But in the long term I’m convinced that something good will come out of this chaos. There is a consensus looming on the horizon that acknowledges the indispensability of an independent and impartial judiciary as the key to most of our problems. This crisis once more underscores the imperative that an independent, impartial judiciary is vital for the future of democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms in Turkey. The growing consensus today in Turkey is that there are major flaws and shortcomings in the judiciary. The prime minister, the speaker of Parliament, opposition figures – you name it - almost everyone agrees with this premise. If we had confidence in the effectiveness and the impartiality of our judiciary, probably we would have been less concerned about our success in overcoming all the present intricate problems facing us. To sum up, the way out is to have an independent and impartial judiciary. It is sad that we are still far away from that goal. It is time perhaps to revitalize the EU reform process. Turkey should get back on track on its EU trajectory. The government and the power bloc behind it had been perceived to be very successful in the West. This was a delusion. The U.S. and the EU bought the AKP’s narrative. Indeed, between 2002 and 2008 there was a consensus to prioritize EU reforms. After the AKP’s vote reached 47 percent in the 2007 elections, checks and balances mechanisms in Turkey started to erode and a serious problem of power concentration emerged. The West failed to detect the change that surfaced during the second tenure of the government after 2007. There is an assumption that the change in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan towards authoritarianism started in 2011. But this does not correspond to facts. The change started back in 2008. We could see from that time how Erdoğan was shifting to an illiberal mindset. This went hand in hand with his shifting away from EU perspectives. The tax fines on the largest media group of the country, aiming to silence independent media, were a flagrant indicator of this. You can elaborate the list. Unfortunately, the Europeans and the U.S. failed to detect this deviation early enough. Everyone is talking about corruption today, but when we wrote about the Light House corruption scandal back in 2008, the prime minister called for a boycott of the Doğan Group’s papers and later levied a hefty tax penalty totaling almost $3 billion on the group. Our Western friends turned a blind eye to this attitude, which was not compatible with even the minimum standards of liberal democracy. I do not see this as excusable. As they had blinders, they did not see the similar steps that were incompatible with the values of liberal democracy. Why? Lack of sound judgment. There was a scenario that they had bought and they did not want to listen to anything that would refute that scenario. If they had shown a principled attitude, the EU and the U.S. could have contained the authoritarian tendencies of this government. Because they have not done so, the prime minister was convinced he had carte blanche. He thought, “whatever I do will be accepted by the West.” The EU and the U.S. did not help Turkish democracy with their complacent attitude; on the contrary, they inflicted damage. Poor judgment on the part of the EU and the U.S. has been a factor in bringing the problems we face to this dimension. Relations with the U.S. are nearly at breaking point, although the prime minister received a red carpet welcome six months ago in Washington. Don’t you think there is something schizophrenic in this? It seems that something went wrong.
Moscow narcotics squad officers have busted up a major drug pipeline supplying Afghan heroin to the region, sources from the Federal Drug Control Service said. Drug policemen “carried out a large-scale operation to bust up a channel of heroin supplies to the Moscow region. A 30-year-old non-resident, an active member of an organized criminal group, was detained in the search operation,” the sources said. According to police officers, heroin had been transported in a vehicle. When examining the car, they had found out that “window raisers were malfunctioning while the weight of the doors was clearly exceeding its normal weight”. After breaking the door panel open, drug policemen found drug packages. “Each of them had an Afghan marking and other marks. The total weight was more than 45 kilograms,” the sources said. According to experts, the batch worth 1.5 million dollars would be enough for several million dozes. Criminal proceedings have been launched and the detained man was taken into custody. Measures are taken to detain other members of the group, the Federal Drug Control Service reported.
Two Belgian surgeons have described a previously unidentified ligament inside the human knee, which they say appears to play a role in the recovery of patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, an injury common among athletes. The doctors say their discovery could transform ACL treatment, and produce better outcomes for patients.
The United States will support the Iraqi government and tribes fighting al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim militants in Anbar province but will not send U.S. troops back to Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday. Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and tribal fighters have taken control of Ramadi and Falluja, the main cities in the Sunni Muslim-dominated province of Anbar, which adjoins Syria, in a serious challenge to the Shi'ite-led government's authority. Iraqi troops and allied tribesmen are trying to retake the province. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Kerry said the United States was concerned about events in Anbar, which was the heart of the anti-U.S. rebellion after the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003.
http://www.thedailystar.net/ At least 18 opposition activists and an ansar member were killed in 12 districts as violent clashes, aimed at foiling the 10th general election, erupted today across the country centring the controversial polls boycotted by the opposition. Scores of polling stations -- mostly schools -- and election materials have been torched and vandalised, forcing the election office to suspend voting at 161. Frustrated over the one-sided nature of the polls, voters also seem to be afraid of the widespread violence that began with attacks on the polling centres Friday night. The 19 were killed in Dinajpur, Rangpur, Nilphamari, Feni, Laxmipur, Munshiganj, Lalmonirhat, Thakurgaon, Chittagong, Naogaon, Gaibandha and Jessore districts. Meantime, a pro-BNP man hurt in a clash with Awami League activists in Lalmonirhat Saturday, succumbed to his injuries at Rangpur Medical College and Hospital early today. The opposition has boycotted the vote and slapped a two-day hartal (shutdown) announcing to resist the election which it termed 'a farce'. DINAJPUR An ansar member and two opposition men were killed and five others injured in three separate incidents of violence in Patgram upazila of the district. The ansar man was beaten dead by Jamaat-Shibir men as the law enforcers were trying to resist the party men from attacking a polling centre in the upazila this morning. Two more ansar men and two voters were among the injured. The dead victims are: Md Wahed Ali, an ansar member; Raihan Masud 22, an activist of Jatiya Jubo Sanghati, the student wing of Jatiya Ganatantrik Party, an ally of 18-party; and BNP activist Chunnu Mia, 30. All the victims were hailed from the upazila, reports our correspondent. Sohel Rana, publicity secretary of Shibir district unit, claimed the responsibility of the killing of ansar man. He was posted for polls duty at Uttar Salandarpur Government Primary School centre. Jamaat-Shibir men armed with sticks attacked the polling centre around 11:00am, Paban Kumar Sarker, the presiding officer of the centre who also sustained injuries in the attack, told The Daily Star. As the ansar men and the election officials tried to resist them, the Jamaat-Shibir men beat them indiscriminately, leaving Ali dead on the spot. Voting came to a halt in the centre following the violence. Meanwhile, two more activists of 18-party were killed when the members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) opened fire after being attacked by the opposition men in Parbatipur upazila around 1:00pm. In another incident, Chunnu was killed during a clash between BNP activists and ruling Awami League men in front of Khorakhai Baiswapara Government Primary School centre at Hoiburpur village of the upazila. RANGPUR Two Jamaat men were killed as police opened fire on the activists, who were trying to seize a polling centre in Pirgachha upazila around 1:30am, Maqbul Hossain, officer-in-charge (OC) of Pirgachha Police Station, told The Daily Star. One of the deceased was identified as Merajul Islam, the OC said. Around 30 to 35 Jamaat men swooped on the on-duty law enforcers with sharp weapons in a bid to occupy Deuty School and College polling centre in Parul union around 1:30am, the police official said. Police had to fire several gunshots to disperse the attackers, leaving the two Jamaat men dead on the spot. NILPHAMARI Two people including a Jamaat man were killed in police firing in Dimla and Jaldhaka upazilas of the district. Jahangir Alam, 22, was killed as police opened fire on a group of Shibir men when they were trying to torch a polling centre at Khalishachapani Government Primary School around 1:00am, reports our Nilphamari correspondent quoting Abu Rafa, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Dimla. Voting at the centre has been postponed following the incident. In Jaldhaka, Mamtajul Haque, 45, an activist of local Jamaat, died on the spot as police opened fire when over 200 Jamaat-Shibir men tried to bar voters from casting their votes at Kaimari Govt Primary School polling centre around 11:00am. FENI A Jubo Dal activist and a Shibir man were killed and another Shibir men injured in police firing in Sonagazi upazila of the district Jamshed Alam, 25, was killed and two Shibir men sustained bullet injuries when police tried to foil the opposition activists' bid to snatch ballot papers from Uttor Char Chandia Government Primary School around 10:30am, said Subhash Chandra Pal, OC of Sonagazi Police Station. On of the injured, Shahidullah, were succumbed to his bullet wounds nearly two and a half hours after the incident at Sonagazi Upazila Health Complex. LAXMIPUR An activist of Shibir was killed and two more were injured when police open fire on them during a clash in Ramganj upazila of Laxmipur. Victim Mohammad Rubel, 22, was a Shibir activist of Charmandari village in Faridganj upazila of Chandpur, reports our correspondent quoting Rezaul Kabir, officer-in-charge of Ramganj Police Station. The clash took place around 12noon when the activists of BNP, Jamaat and Shibir swooped on Machhimpur High School polling centre to create panic among voters for establishing supremacy in the area. Immediately after the voting began in the area, attacks on polling centres and torching on ballot boxes and papers were reported from different polling centers including Machhimpur of the upazila, said the OC. As the situation escalated, in Machhimpur centre, police spread bullets to take the situation under control, Md Farhad, a sub-inspector, told The Daily Star. During the incident, Rubel died of bullet wounds on the spot while two other unknown Shibir men received injuries, the OC added. MUNSHIGANJ Kangkan, 24, joint secretary of JCD Shimulia union in the upazila, died as he being chased by police jumped into a water-filled ditch in Tongibari upazila of the district. Police chased the JCD leader when he was trying to hurl a petrol bomb at Dakshin Kathadia-Shimulia Government Primary School polling centre around 5:50am, reports our Munshiganj correspondent quoting local UNO Nasreen Parvin.| Kangkan succumbed when police was taking him to the police station after rescuing him from the ditch. The law enforcers also recovered the petrol bomb from the spot. LALMONIRHAT An activist of Swechchhasebak Dal died a day after AL activists stabbed him during a clash with AL in Patgram, reports our Lalmonirhat correspondent. Farooque Hossain, 34, succumbed to his injuries at Rangpur Medical College Hospital around 5:15am, said Gautam Bishwas, a doctor of the hospital. He was a member of Swechchhasebok Dal Bawra union unit, reports our Lalmonirhat correspondent quoting Habibul Haque Bosunia, chairman of Bawra Union Parishad. The clash ensued when AL men resisted local BNP-Jamaat men from holding a rally in favour of its 48-hour hartal at Shafinagar village in the upazila. Moabarok Hossain, a local leader of Swechchasebak Dal, died on the spot and ten others were injured. The injured including Farooque was whisked off to Patgram Upazila Health Complex from where they were shifted to RMCH. THAKURGAON Three people including two BNP men were killed as law enforcers opened fire on the BNP and Jamaat activists who tried to bar voters from casting their votes at a polling centre in Sadar upazila around 1:00pm. Faisal Mahmud, superintendent of police in Thakurgaon, confirmed the death of the three. Two of the deceased were identified as Joynal, 21, son of Mokbul; and Harun, 20, son of Abdus Samad; of Khagrabari village in the upazila. The third was named as Abu Hanif, 28, a BNP activist. Mozaharul Islam Badal, general secretary of BNP Khochabari union unit, said police opened fire on BNP-Jamaat activists when they went to resist voters from exercising their franchise at Basudebpur Government Primary centre. Joynal and Harun died on the spot, the BNP leaders said. Local sources said BNP-Jamaat men attacked over 30 polling centres in Thakurgaon-1 constituency and locked into clashes with the ruling party activists and law enforcers. At least 50 people including police, ansar and BNP-Jamaat activists were injured during the attacks. Of them, 29 including six policemen were admitted to Thakurgaon Sadar Hospital till 3:00pm. CHITTAGONG A Shibir activist was killed in police firing during a clash between the opposition activists and law enforcers in Lohagora upazila of Chittagong this afternoon. Lalu, 23, died on the spot when police opened fire on the unruly people who attacked a voting centre, reports our Chittagong correspondent. The clash erupted around 3:30pm at Bhabanipur Government Primary School polling centre. NAOGAON A BNP activist was killed and six others were injured as joint forces opened fire in Manda upazila. The deceased was identified as Babul Hossain, 25, reports our Rajshahi correspondent. Opposition supporters were advancing towards two adjoining polling centres in Ramnagar village with local weapons around 11:00am when joint forces told them to return back, said Abdullah Hel Baki, officer-in-charge of Manda Police Station. Ignoring the request, the activists shoot arrows to the law enforcers, the police official added. In retaliation, the joint forces opened fire when Babul and his six other cohorts were wounded. They were rushed to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital where doctors declared him dead. GAIBANDHA A Shibir man was killed and 22 people were injured during a clash between AL and Jamaat-Shibir activists in Sundarganj upazila, reports our Gaibandha correspondent. The deceased was identified as: Shahabul Islam, 22, a Shibir activist. The clash erupted near Monomoth Government Primary School around 1:20pm, leaving 24 men from both parties injured, said Shahidul Islam Monju, secretary of upazila unit of Jamaat. Two of the injured were stated to be in critical condition. JESSORE A BNP activist was shot dead by law enforcers while looting a polling centre and torching ballot papers in Monirampur upazila, reports our Jessore correspondent. The deceased was identified as Motier Rahman, 28. The incident took place at Bajitpur High School centre around 3:00pm, said Syed Mostafa Kamal, assistant superintendent of Jessore police. Some opposition activists attacked the polling centre and started hurling brick chips on law enforcers, the police official said. In retaliation, lawmen opened fire while Motier and an Awami League activist, Abdul Azim, sustained bullet injuries, he added. Later the BNP activist died on way to the local upazila health complex.
Begging on the street has spawned a vicious practice: beggar mafia are renting children in Kabul, and drugging them with opium to ply their trade. Afghan cities also see Pakistani beggars in the summer, reveals an investigation by the Independent Media Consortium (IMC) Productions.* The government outlawed street-begging in November 2008 and set up a commission - made up of different government bodies and the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) - to end street-begging in the capital but it has not helped. Instead the numbers seem to have grown in the last few years, and many of the beggars are women and children. Freba who must be in her forties lives in Guzar Qazzi in the 1st District, and has been begging for 12 years. She says she earns roughly 300 Afs daily (1 USD is 56 Afs). Her drug addict husband does not work. An opium addict she has turned her eight children, the eldest an 18-year-old daughter, into addicts. "I take one or two of the younger children with me every day. The rest stay home with my eldest daughter. Before we leave the house I feed them half a bean of opium. They sleep quietly on the street. When I want to wake them up, I pour water on their faces, and make them drink water. Sometimes they vomit!" she is matter-of-fact. When the children do not get their daily fix, they cry, and complain of body ache, the mother adds. Freba is part of a 15-member gang of beggar women who drug their children with opium. The Afghanistan Human Rights Independent Commission (AHRIC) estimates there are 60,000 child addicts in the country. Opium is the most common drug. Zainab in her fifties is a self-confessed addict and beggar for the last nine years since her return from Pakistan. She says she has seven children between 5 and 28 years, and the three youngest are addicted to opium. She tells IMC that she gives them "on rent" to beggar gangs. "I give them opium," she explains. "The youngest stays with me, while the other two are given to women who give me half their earnings in return," she adds. It is for the children that people give arms, Zainab thinks. "Otherwise no one will help us," she says despairingly. Nearly half of Afghanistan's estimated 27 million people live on less than 1 USD a day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has calculated. Karima, a mother of seven, is both a street food seller and beggar. What of her husband? He's addicted to narcotics and jobless, she says. "I cook Bulani and sell it in the bazaar. Later in the day I take along two or three of my children, and seek alms near Ashiqan and Arefan shrine, or next to Pol e Kheshti mosque," she says. She admits to giving her children opium, and giving two of them to two other women in her group of beggars who don't have children. "We are 12 women in this area. I take one child and two other women take my 8-year-old daughter and one and a one-and-a-half-year-old son. In the evening, when we are going home, we divide whatever food and money that we have got." Karima says she earns at least 400 Afs (7 USD) on her own. "I get some money from renting my children," she adds. General Mohammad Zahir, the security commander of Kabul, confirms children are drugged on opium by beggars. He insists his department is rounding up beggars "every night" - an act he believes is humane because "when they (beggars) see the opportunity and safety (in poor homes) they are happy". He did not give more details. Mohammad Bilal Siddiqi, deputy head of advocacy for child rights at the AIHRC, says interviews with children of beggars who were rounded up reveal "they (children) are being coerced to beg". "There are many instances of beggar children being bought and sold, and incomes earned through them," he says. "There are some professional people who use the children as economic tools," he adds. Najibullah Babrakzai, a coordinator for child rights at AIHRC, says: "That children sleep from 8 am to 4 pm is evidence they are being given narcotics. It is really a crime." The Commission has raised the issue with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in meetings on beggar children, but "they have paid little attention", he says. Influx of foreigner Only some beggars are locals. "Some are needy locals, begging out of compulsion," says Babrakzai. Another category is of "seasonal beggars", he points out. Those who travel to cooler climes in the summer months, and vice-versa in the winter months. IMC interviewed a third group: Pakistanis who come to Kabul, and other Afghan cities, in the summer to beg. Sakina who speaks Dari with great difficulty says she is from Baluchistan in Pakistan. Financial problems drove her to Kabul to beg on the streets, she says. IMC met her in Kota Sangi. "Our income is good," she says with self-assurance. "In the winter we go back to Baluchistan." Farooq has come from Sindh in Pakistan. His one leg and hand are disabled. "I don't have food at home that is why I come here to beg," he told IMC. Kabul residents are suspicious of these "foreign" beggars. Shopkeeper Mohammad Daud in Mariam Bazaar, Khairkhana, says he's seen them descend on the market in vehicles. At night they gather again around Khesht Hokhtif area, and are taken back by vehicles. "I believe the police collect bribes from them as well, or they should be rounded up as ordered by the anti-begging Commission." A police commander in Deh Afghanan who didn't want his name revealed says he has "removed them many times but they come again". He calls foreigners begging on Kabul streets "commercial beggars". "Their number is not known; you can see them everywhere in the city," he adds. Khuja Mir who is disabled and forced to beg for survival in the Lesa Maryam (Maryam High School) area, confides "Pakistani beggars are paid a salary in their country". "One of them told me he earns 15,000 Pakistani rupees (140 USD). Whatever they earn here is given to the company that brings them here," he says. Hawker Sayed Mohammad in Mekroryan Market says he sees more Pakistani beggars in summer time. "Begging is a business for all of them. Our government doesn't do anything about it," he laments. Waheed who sells vegetables in Mekroryan claims he saw a bus from "Bi Bi Mahro area drop beggars. At 8 pm some 40 beggars gather in the Qala Jangi area. The bus comes again, and takes them back." An activist, Mohammad Anwar Maidanwal, thinks people's concerns should be addressed, and the government should find out "who the real beggars are, and who works for whom?" He thinks those who are employed by mafia should be handed over to the police. "The prestige and honour of Afghans is at stake," he feels. Passing the buck Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Wasel Noor Mohmand refused to comment until he had confirmed documentary evidence of beggar gangs, and children being drugged for begging. IMC investigations show a beggar earns a little more than a daily wage worker in Kabul, which is 300 to 350 Afs (5 to 6 USD). Many beggars are disabled, including those from Pakistan. The Pakistani embassy turned down requests to be interviewed. The National Security Department in an email reply to IMC, writes: "The Pakistani beggars, it is obvious from their physical status, are not coming by themselves rather they are taken to Afghanistan by groups and abused. The National Security Department doesn't have documents that the Pakistani beggars might be intelligence agents for others but there is a possibility that the disabled beggars would be tools of some organisations." General Zahir, security commander in Kabul, however, thinks foreigners begging on the streets of Kabul have come in legally to earn money. "Kabul police always round them up, and send them to their country. Unfortunately our consulates, since they are from countries with good relations, give them visas, and they come and beg here," he says without naming any country. General Zahir could not show documents to prove the involvement of beggars in spying, but he confirmed they were organised. "There are special houses for these beggars that are provided secretly," he says. "They stay indoors at night and come on the roads in the day time. They give money to those who bring them here, which is a big crime. Some have been arrested, and deported. The arrests will continue." Mohammad Zaher Koshan, in-charge of poor houses in Kabul, insists, "Only one out of 10 beggars rounded up by police are really poor." The Afghan Red Crescent Society, which was part of the anti-begging commission established in 2009, has been hamstrung by a funds crunch. AIHRC's Siddiqi acknowledged money was the problem for the slowdown in attempts to end street begging. Deputy Minister Mohmand told IMC the draft of a new law prepared by the Red Cross, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and others has been sent to the office of the second vice president. "Most beggars who were arrested restarted begging, and the lack of a law was what created a problem," says Koshan, in-charge of Kabul's poor houses. National Assembly representatives blame corruption for the problem of begging. "If those responsible round up beggars from the street, take action against those who abuse their children, I don't think they would repeat the crime," says Shukria Paikan, Member of Parliament (MP) from Kunduz. (*) Independent Media Consortium is a joint initiative of Pajhwok Afghan News, The Killid Group (radio and print media), Saba Media Organisation (Saba TV-Radio Nawa networks) and Hasht-e-Subh. This is the 11th of a series of investigative reports on corruption and human rights cases.
http://www.dw.de/Afghanistan is planning to release 88 people from Bagram military prison, undermining an already shaky relationship with the United States. Washington's warnings have fallen on deaf ears. For the spokesman of US forces in Afghanistan, Dave Lapan, the 88 prisoners, at the center of the current tiff, are "dangerous individuals" with ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda. For the United States, these men must be dealt with in Afghanistan's "official justice system." However, the Afghan Commission for Prisoner Evaluations has a different view. Commission member Abdul Shakoor Dadras told DW that in talks with the Americans, the point was made that the "charges raised against the accused had to be substantiated with concrete evidence." "Allegations alone are not enough to keep people in custody," he said, adding that the Afghan people would not accept such steps. Simmering conflict The prisoner issue has been a sore point between Kabul and Washington for some time. In March 2013, American forces handed over Bagram prison to the Afghans. A short while later Afghanistan released 648 prisoners. The 88 remaining prisoners were kept in jail. And they are there wrongly, according to Dadras. "Our evaluation indicated that the files of the accused were not maintained according to valid Afghan laws and therefore not legally binding," he said. For Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, director of the Afghan Center for Regional Studies in Kabul, the planned release is supposed to be a message to Islamic extremists. "Afghanistan would like to get the peace process moving and with this step the government is signaling to the Taliban that it is serious about peace talks," he told DW. Liwal stressed that it was important for the security forces of both the US and Afghanistan "to share information and evidence about suspects" in order to find a solution to the simmering conflict. Only then can the release of "real terrorists" be prevented, he said. Crucial for bilateral ties? There is little sympathy for this standpoint in Washington. The US has made it very clear that this issue is seriously straining already shaky ties as Kabul has so far refused to sign a key bilateral security agreement. Releasing the 88 prisoners will "irreparably damage" relations, said Republican Senator Lindsay Graham during a visit to the US embassy in Kabul on Thursday (02.01.2014). Graham said the 88 men in Bagram were responsible for the deaths of 60 NATO soldiers and 57 Afghans. "If it really comes to their release, it would have tremendously negative consequences for future relations between the American people and the Afghan government," he said. Security agreement breakthrough? John McCain, also a Republican senator and a former presidential candidate who accompanied Graham on his trip, stirred some hope, at least, that an agreement could soon be reached on the stalled security accord. After talks with outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he said he was optimistic that a breakthrough was possible. McCain said he came away with the impression that the differences had been cleared up to the point that "a solution could be found very soon." Washington is concerned that Afghanistan could sink into chaos after the withdrawal of international forces later this year and has been pressing for an agreement on security issues. The accord is a prerequisite for further international assistance. Until now, Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, saying a decision should be left up to his successor after elections in April.
The Pakistan Army was called in after two groups of inmates clashed in the highly sensitive Central Jail Peshawar here on Sunday. According to police, as many as six prisoners were injured in the clash. According to reports the troops were called in to bring the situation under control. IG Prisons said some prisoners sustained injuries in the clash. He, however, added that situation was under control.
Call it irony of fate or misfortune, the retired General who forced the then democratically elected Prime Minister to go in exile as a result of secret deal in 1999, is waiting to strike a similar deal but this time to save his skin, speculations doing the rounds in Pakistani federal capital Islamabad suggested on Saturday. Incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom the retired general Pervez Musharraf had got arrested after toppling his democratically elected government as a result of a bloodless military coup in 1999, is the man who can save generals' skin.
Threatened by the court and abandoned by the powerful Pakistan army, former military ruler Pervez Musharraf finally took refuge in Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology that is situated merely at a distance of five minutes drive from headquarter Rawalpindi wherein he ruled Pakistan for more than nine years. While the local and international media has widely reported that the former general who engineered the Kargil war and other misadventures during his stint as army chief, had suffered a severe heart attack on Thursday and was taken to military run hospital. However, doctors say otherwise. A senior doctor told India Today on Saturday on condition of anonymity that the former military chief who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008 as a godfather, had not suffered a heart attack, rather felt pain in his chest probably due to nervousness and fear of something.
" The former General had undergone thorough medial checkup at hospital. Doctors did not notice any symptoms of heart attack and results of various tests endorsed it later on," said a doctor associated with Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology.It was unclear how long the retired general who enjoys great degree of hatred among the masses in Pakistan probably for allowing attacks on Red Mosque in Islamabad and killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a Baloch nationalist, during his stint as military ruler, would stay in hospital. Endorsing the report of sources, General Azhar Kiyani, a noted Pakistani heart surgeon and former commandant in Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, told local media that reports of tests suggested that General Musharraf was hale and hearty. It all started on Thursday when the former military ruler left his sprawling villa in the morning to appear before a special court set up in Islamabad, the federal capital, to hear the treason charges against him. Earlier, Musharraf had failed to appear before the court twice due to life threats. It was then, the court threated him to issue his arrest warrants in case if he did not appear before the court on Thursday January 1, 2014. The retired general who has been under the impression that powerful Pakistan Army would come to rescue him anyway, left his house in the morning on Thursday to appear before the court. However, he got nervous and lost temperament while his motorcade was on the way to court, soon after he realized that the powerful institution which he lead for years seems to have finally abandoned him. Insiders say, Musharraf complained about pain in chest and lye flat on the seat. Utterly alarmed by the situation, the chief of Musharraf's private security team diverted the convoy to military-run hospital where the General was immediately admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of military run hospital. According to legal counsel of Pervez Musharraf, a team of doctors is looking after the retired General in army-run hospital since then. However, hospital administration has so for refrained from issuing any statement regarding his condition. His wife and daughter immediately rushed to hospital and reportedly accompanying Musharraf in hospital while, no one else, is allowed to meet him. Musharraf's illness has got mixed response from politicians from across Pakistan. Bilawal Bhutto, Chairperson of Pakistan People's Party termed Pervez Musharraf as a coward and expressed his concern that the former general might be doing some drama to escape treason trial. " I cant believe this coward ever wore the uniform of our brave courageous armed forces, disgrace," Bilawal tweeted. Off-the record conservation with well-informed officials and former military generals revealed that Musharraf's treason trial has sent shocking waves across Pakistan's powerful military that is fond of staging coup, and powerful generals are looking for some middle way to settle the dispute. "Look gentleman, Musharraf's trial has meant a lot for Pakistan's army. Powerful generals my be silent apparently, but, during their private meetings they have shown uneasiness over Musharraf's trial that may disgrace the army as an institution . They would do something to to save army from disgrace. Sending Musharraf abroad, may be a best option," a well informed official sources remarked when ask to comment. On the other hand, said a close aid of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told India Today on Saturday that he wants the court to convict Musharraf at any cost. However, can, forgive him later on. " Nawaz Sharif wants court to convict Musharraf, so, that he may let the world show that he was the politician who initiated treason trial of a former general and made his case an example for rest of army," said a close confidant of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, Sharif has so for refrained from commenting on the issue. Political analyst Hassan Kamal says stakes are very high with regard to the Musharraf trial. If the case proceeds it is likely that the former president would be convicted. " In such circumstances the political advantage that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would derive would be enormous. As the man who convicted the former army chief and president, Nawaz Sharif would become an extremely powerful entity. In fact he would become virtually invincible," Hassan Kamal says. It is important to mention here that Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain last week said he will decide according to the law of land in case if former military ruler begged to be pardoned. Islamabad was abuzz with the news on Saturday that former military chief may leave abroad after striking a deal with the Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent Prime minister of Pakistan whom Musharraf had forced to leave country in October 1999 after toppling his democratically elected government as a result of bloodless coup. After thirteen and half years later, the retired General is seemingly looking for the similar deal to save his skin, said many. Local media speculated on Saturday that Musharraf can leave Pakistan on medical ground any time. However, India Today confirmed on Saturday ( at 11:25 AM) that Musharraf's name still exists on the Exit Control List. He needs to get his name remove from the ECL to fly abroad. Ahmed Raza Kasoori, Musharraf's counsel reiterated on Saturday that only doctors can decide if the former general needs treatment abroad. "Musharraf can only fly abroad in case if doctors recommend it. Even, court is bound to follow doctors advise," Kasoori told India Today.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf's counsel Ahmad Raza Kasuri on Sunday said that his client is ill and will not appear Monday in a special court for his high treason trial. "It is known to the court and the entire world that Pervez Musharraf is ill, he is not a common man, the entire world knows him, he is ill and will not appear in the court tomorrow," Kasuri told Geo News here. Kasuri added if Musharraf could not get the medical report Sunday, he would request the court verbally to grant him exemption from appearing in the court. Efforts were afoot to obtain the doctors' report on his illness so that it could be presented in the court, he added. On Wednesday, the court, hearing a high treason case against the former military ruler, warned that it could issue a warrant for his arrest if he again failed to appear before it Thursday, after Musharraf did not come for the second time in 10 days before the court. But the former military chief was Thursday moved to a hospital ahead of his appearance in the court as he suffered a "heart problem". The option of shifting him abroad for treatment was under consideration. Musharraf's name still figures on the list of those people who cannot go abroad without the government's permission. A court had already turned down his request to remove his name from the Exit Control List and advised him to approach the government. The government initiated treason charges against the former president for suspending, subverting and abrogating the constitution, imposing an Emergency in the country in November 2007, and detaining judges of the superior courts. Legal experts say the charges carry death penalty or life imprisonment.
The Express Tribune
By Lal KhanSocialism for most of the stalwarts of the PPP of that time was more of a slogan than its scientific understanding, application and theoretical clarity. This directly affected organisational structures and prevented the growth of steeled cadres For the PPP, with all its factions and groups, the birth and death anniversaries of its leaders have become the mainstay of its political activity and perhaps the only. With the passage of time, as the PPP leadership drifted more and more away from its founding socialist ideology and compromised with the capitalist system, the theoretical, political, policy and programmatic issues were systematically sidelined. The ‘cult’ of the leader has been constantly built up and magnified at the expense of ideology. Even the political interactions in the party have been curtailed to the infinite gestures of praise for the leaders. January 5, 2014 marks the 86th birth anniversary of Chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The party leaders at different tiers of the party cut birthday cakes. Quite a few are those who were fervid collaborators with Bhutto’s executioner Ziaul Haq. Some distributed sweets rejoicing Bhutto’s murder. Hardly anyone reminisces the ideals that made Bhutto a legend. The programme he gave through the PPP to the masses to win their hearts and minds is opportunistically ignored. The party’s founding documents have been abrogated and the elementary reasons of the PPP’s meteoric rise to become the largest party of the country, almost overnight, have been distorted and ridiculed. The crucial role of the party’s ideology has been replenished by the virtues and acclaim of the individual personality. The form has replaced content. It was also the character of the epoch and the revolutionary ferment of the period that played a vital role in making the PPP a tradition of the masses for generations. The surging movement and the radical sway of the masses were rapidly transforming Bhutto himself. His genius was that he palpated the pulse of the masses better than most. While the traditional left was toying with the idea of a bourgeois democracy, Bhutto gave the programme of revolutionary socialism. He understood the impact of the economics of a decayed capitalism that ended up concentrating wealth in few select families whilst impoverishing a vast majority of the population. More importantly, he comprehended how and why the young and a virgin proletariat became class conscious and its aspirations of eliminating its exploitation, and transforming the system. Although the party was created in the turbulence of a revolutionary storm and gained a mass base at lightening speed, it was also the reason for the lack of a more solid ideological nurturing and unanimity of the party rank and file. Socialism for most of the stalwarts of the PPP of that time was more of a slogan than its scientific understanding, application and theoretical clarity. This directly affected organisational structures and prevented the growth of steeled cadres who could take up the tasks posed by the revolutionary challenge the movement had thrown up. The ideological diversities, ambiguities and wrangling of different currents created a vacuum for the formation of the cult of a leader to maintain unity of the party. That was the main reason why the bourgeois state debilitated by the defeat of 1971was able to engross the PPP in its structures. The repressive state was so fractured that it could not have been able to crush a revolutionary insurrection if PPP had adopted that course. The cult of the personality enabled Bhutto to balance conflicting and contradictory pressures. On the one hand he attempted to placate the state, landed aristocracy and religious fundamentalist and on the other the working class and the peasantry. Bhutto paid a heavy price for carrying out half a revolution. The capitalists and the elite that were bruised by Bhutto’s nationalisations and radical measures struck back with a vengeance. Imposition of the vicious Zia dictatorship and the ultimate assassination of Bhutto was not just a vendetta of the system against the mass challenge of the 1968-1969 revolution but also the real fear of the Bhutto and PPP’s ability to mobilise the masses on to the streets and dangers this would have posed to the vested interests of the ruling classes. US imperialism in particular connived with the Islamic fundamentalist Zia in Bhutto’s murder and the onslaught of political Islamic counter revolution that Zia brutally carried out with harrowing repression, torture and atrocities against the youth and the workers of this country.
BY M WAQAR
January 5, we celebrate birthday of Z A Bhutto, a leader, politician, revolutionary, who after his execution in Pakistan on April 4, 1979, still lives on in the hearts and minds of millions of Pakistanis, and the party that he founded still possesses the largest permanent voting bank in Pakistan. The possibility of the secular, democratic Pakistan that he had in mind, like Pakistan 's founder, Jinnah has earned ZAB the title of Quaid-i-Awam . Z. A. Bhutto has still more charisma than any politician in Pakistan. Mr Bhutto was inducted into office as the President of Pakistan in 1971 and was removed in 1977, both events took place around midnight; one in the wake of a war and the other in the shadow of a civil war. In between he gave the country what even his sympathizers and admirers would concede was a 'strong' government, he mobilized his country's first mass-based political party around a socialist ideology and highly independent foreign policy. Pakistan's modernizer Zulfikar Ali Bhutto left deep footprints in the sands of history. To his lasting credit remains the 1973 Constitution of the country, the
Shimla Accord of 1972 which brought the longest peace between India and Pakistan, the social reforms to build an egalitarian society, the non-aligned foreign policy, the nuclear programme and the building of the social, economic and military infrastructure of the country. He was a thinker, author and orator. He was deliberate, discreet, and competent; honest, upright and keeper of his covenants. He was a friend of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed. Fearless in his beliefs he refused to bow before any man or power other than the Almighty. His courage was such that he preferred to face death for his beliefs and embraced martyrdom. He had profound faith in freedom and the liberation of humanity. Under his government, Pakistan gave overt and covert support to the African nations than under apartheid and minority rule. He rejected fanaticism. He gave pride to the poor.
He gave voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless of the country.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, knew that there can be no sacrifice greater than the sacrifice for the people whose respect, honour and dignity is the respect and dignity of the Nation. Quaid e Awam made the people proud of themselves and of their Nation. The 20th century has seen many great leaders, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is one of them. Due to his glorious achievements, Mr. Bhutto rules the hearts of the Pakistani people from his grave. He was not only the leader of Pakistan, he was the leader of an Islamic world, the leader of Third World. He will forever be remembered by his countrymen as Quaid-e-Awam. As his followers say, "Zinda Hai Bhutto, Zinda Hai"--Bhutto lives, he lives. Indeed he does, in the hearts of all those who dream of a better tomorrow. Long Live Bhuttoism….