Tuesday, April 29, 2014
By Sara YasinIt looks like George Clooney, the man famed for being a confirmed bachelor, will be marrying hot shot human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. It's the stuff that romantic comedies are made of: A hunky Hollywood playboy with a long list of ex-girlfriends finally decides to settle down after a whirlwind courtship with a brainy, accomplished and beautiful human rights lawyer.
‘We’re in a holding period now that Israel has suspended peace talks,’ says spokeswoman, as April 29 deadline for peace deal passes. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s late-night statement Monday on his use of the word “apartheid” came in light of the unfair and inaccurate spin placed on his employment of the incendiary term, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday. Amid a firestorm of criticism from Jewish groups and US legislators alike, Kerry had acknowledged Monday that, “If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution. At the same time, Psaki defended the message behind Kerry’s original Friday evening comments. “He doesn’t disagree with the notion that many Israeli leaders have stated, regarding their concerns about a unitary state and a range of impacts that it could have,” Psaki said. Speaking to the non-governmental Trilateral Commission, Kerry warned Friday that “a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens — or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.” His comments were attacked by a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called for Kerry’s immediate resignation. Some right-wing Israeli MKs also castigated Kerry for using “apartheid” in the context of Israel. The US secretary, Psaki said Tuesday, regretted his word choice but not necessarily the sentiment. “He knows that the power of words can create a misimpression, even if it is unintentional,” she said. “He is not naïve about the games played in Washington. Many people used his comments out of context to distort his records.” “Perception is important,” Psaki elaborated. “The fact that people were perceiving his comments as a lack of support for Israel it is absurd and inaccurate and something we couldn’t allow to stand.” During a regularly scheduled press briefing, Psaki also commented on the fate of the peace process. April 29 was the target date originally conceived for the achievement of a final agreement, when the sides agreed to resume talks last summer. Over time, it became increasingly clear that a final agreement was impossible within the original nine-month framework, but US interlocutors still hoped that the sides would agree to continue talks — and possibly agree on an interim framework — by the late-April deadline. Last week’s announcement of plans to form a Palestinian unity government with Hamas and Israel’s ensuing decision to freeze talks put a damper on those plans. “There is nothing special about the [April] date now, given that Israel suspended negotiations,” Psaki reflected. “We reached a point in which a pause is necessary. We are in a holding period.” Still, Psaki stressed, Kerry “has not a moment of regret about every ounce of time he’s spent on this effort.” “He continues to believe that a peace process is to the benefit of the Palestinian and Israeli people and the American people,” she said, adding that he will resume wholehearted involvement should both sides be ready to “make the decisions that are necessary.” Although she stressed that the sides had made progress during the nine months of talks, Psaki said that she was not aware of any plans to bring the American negotiations team led by Ambassador Martin Indyk back to the region. Read more: State Dept: Kerry regrets 'apartheid' word choice, not sentiment | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/state-dept-kerry-regrets-word-choice-not-sentiment/#ixzz30KwThtG9 Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook
U.S. and Poland launch military exercises as a war of words heightens between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine.
http://voiceofrussia.com/The EU's new sanctions against Russia can be explained by the fact that Europe is trying to find those responsible for the processes ongoing in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. New EU sanctions against Russia occur as Europe is trying to find someone to blame for the processes taking place in Ukraine. "As for the second set, it is not even clear what it is about, I can hardly explain what is the reason for it, because there is no link between what is happening now in Ukraine and Russia", Putin told reporters. He expressed his view that the Western partners "used the force scenario to find solution to the Ukrainian crisis, and then realized what it leads to. So they are trying to find someone to blame now." "But I have to say that Russia has nothing to do with it," said Putin. The President has again criticized the West in the absence of logic. "I consider the first so-called set to be an unfriendly and illegal act in relation to Russia, which is certainly detrimental to the US-Russian and Russian-European relations. It is absolutely obvious when we talk about the second set", Putin said. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes there is no need for Russia to impose its own sanctions on the EU and the US in response to their sanctions against Russia but warns of their possible consequences for Western companies' presence in the key sectors of the Russian economy. "The government has already proposed some response steps, and I think there is no need for this. But if something of the sort continues, we will certainly have to see carefully who works in the key sectors of the Russian economy and how, including in the energy sector," Putin said in taking questions from journalists following a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk on Tuesday. "We really wouldn't like to resort to any response steps, and I hope this won't be necessary," he said. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_29/Second-set-of-US-sanctions-against-Russia-not-related-to-situation-in-Ukraine-Putin-4642/
A Saudi appeals court has upheld a controversial sentence against a woman simply for driving a car. On Monday, the court in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh upheld a previous sentence to jail the woman for eight months. The woman was also sentenced to 150 lashes. She was additionally charged with resisting arrest and violence against police officers who detained her. Although there is no specific law that bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia, women simply cannot apply for driving licenses and some have been arrested for driving. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. The medieval ban is a religious fatwa imposed by the country’s Wahhabi clerics. If women get behind the wheel in the kingdom, they may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged. Supporters of the ban say allowing women to drive will threaten public morality and encourage them to mix freely in public. Saudi women have, on many occasions, defied the ban in protest, calling on authorities to not deny them their basic rights. In 2011, dozens of women took part in a campaign, dubbed Women2Drive, challenging the ban. They posted on internet social networks pictures and videos of themselves while driving. In 1991, authorities stopped 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban. After being arrested, many were further punished by being banned from travel and suspended from their workplaces.
http://voiceofrussia.com/Moscow retains the right to respond to sanctions imposed by Washington, but cooperation between the two countries is still possible, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. "Russia retains its right to appropriately respond to the unfriendly steps against [Russia], including the introduction of any kind of sanction limitations against the Americans," according to a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website. "At the same time, we believe that bilateral cooperation will be needed to resolve a wide range of issues on the international agenda and settle the crisis in various regions in the world," the statement said. On Monday, the United States imposed sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, against 7 Russian individuals and 17 Russian companies linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin's "inner circle". "The European Union followed the US move on Tuesday, announcing sanctions on 15 additional Russian and Ukrainian officials. Most of those listed in the EU sanctions expanded on the US list. Moscow has repeatedly warned that talking in the language of sanctions is "inappropriate and counterproductive" and warned its Western partners about the "boomerang effect" that sanctions would have. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_29/Moscow-asserts-right-to-respond-to-US-sanctions-Russias-FM-6353/
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani said that his son Ali Haider Gillani was kidnapped to avenge the Swat Operation, a private news channel reported on Tuesday. Speaking to media in Lahore, former PM Yousuf Raza Gillani said that the release of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) captives as part of the peace process was a one-sided act. He added that Taliban told him that they are avenging the operation carried out in Swat. Gillani demanded Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to bring the video tape of Ali Haider in front of the masses. He claimed that he also has a video that will be surfaced soon. Gilani claimed that government and Army were not on same page and he demanded of the government to show another video of his son. He added that the video of my son was shown to give ‘clean-chit’ to Taliban, and spoiled my son’s case. MISSING PERSONS He further said that his son was also included in the list of missing persons and he can understand the feelings of families of missing persons.
Gas supplies to the Pakistani prime minister's residence have been cut off over thousands of dollars of unpaid bills, it is reported.The residence and office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is said to be 4.7m rupees ($48,000, £28,000) in arrears on its gas bills, reports Dunya News TV. But the premier's office is apparently just one of several official buildings to be disconnected in the capital city, Islamabad. Parliament House, Parliament Lodges and the Federal Shariat Court are some of the other government buildings currently without gas. All of the non-payers had been sent several notices but never responded, a spokesman for gas supplier Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited tells the Pakistan Tribune newspaper. Ironically, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been pushing for a zero-tolerance policy towards gas payment defaulters only days earlier. At a high-level meeting on Wednesday on electricity and gas theft, he called the practice unacceptable and said measures on a "war footing" should be taken against perpetrators, a statement from prime minister's office says.
Voice for Baloch Missing urges International Community to raise voice against enforced-disappearances in Balochistan
http://balochwarna.com/The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons leaders including Chairman Nasrullah Baloch, Vice Chairman Abdul Qadeer Baloch and General Secretary Farzana Majeed Baloch have urged Amnesty International, European Union, UN and other international Human Rights bodies to take to notice of enforced disappearances in Balochistan. The VBMP leader said that Pakistani forces illegally abducted 19200 Baloch activists and more than 2000 among them have been killed and dump. “We have given proof and the documents about enforced-disappearances in Balochistan to UN representatives in Islamabad,” they said. VBMP leaders said according their information at least 170 bodies were discovered from mass graves in Tootak area of Khuzdar and three bodies have been identified, whose names were in the list of missing persons. Only a proper and independent DNA investigation will confirm the true identity of the rest of the bodies found in mass graves. They alleged that there are mass grave of enforced-disappeared Baloch persons in Mashkail and other districts of Balochistan as well. At a joint press conference at Quetta Press Club the VBMP leaders said that they are coordinating with the United Nations representatives to highlight the issue of enforced-disappearance in Balochistan. They said: “We appeal the EU, United Nations, Amnesty International and all other international human rights organisations to put pressure on Pakistan for the safe release of Baloch student leader Zahid Kurd Baloch and save the life of Zahid Baloch.” Expressing their lack of trust on Pakistani judiciary the VBMP leaders said: “we have no faith in Pakistani court and justice departments but we will continue to raise the issue of enforced-disappearance at all forums so the world can see that we have tried all peaceful and democratic means of struggle.” They said state forces are continuously violating human rights in Balochistan and the VBMP has been peacefully protesting against the state atrocities in past five years. “Despite our democratic and peaceful struggle the state forces are continuing the Baloch genocide in Balochistan. They are abducting people from all walks of life and professions.” The relatives of Baloch abducted persons and victims of state’s kill and dump policy have been demanding for the safe recovery of their loved ones and if there are any cases against them they should be brought before and court and given the right to defend themselves, said VBMP leaders. They said: “Pakistani state’s security forces and intelligence agencies subject Baloch prisoners to inhuman torture and kill them under-custody which is against international human rights conventions. At present thousands of Baloch including the leadership of Baloch Students are being tortured in custody of Pakistani forces.” The VBMP leaders said that on 18 March 2014 Pakistani forces abducted Baloch Student leader Zahid Kurd Baloch in presence Banuk Karima Baloch and other BSO leaders. “Mr Kurd has been subjected to brutal torture on the spot being taken away.” According to VBMP leader around 10 personnel of secret agencies and 300 FC personnel took part in joint operation for the arrest of Baloch student leader. They said it has been more than a month now that there is no news about Zahid Baloch’s whereabouts and his family, especially, his mother are extremely worried about his security because of the unearthing of mass graves and continuous kill and dump policy of state in Balochistan. They said: “We know that area police station is scared to register an FIR against intelligence agencies and FC hence we urged the HRCP, other human rights organisations and the Supreme Court of Pakistan to order the police to register the case of Zahid Baloch’s abduction. “We know that we will not get any justice as the door of justice in Pakistan has been closed for the Baloch people. They said the courts have already taken off the names previously missing persons from the official list but we will not be discouraged by such acts and will continue the struggle for the release of our loved ones.” The VBMP leader said that honest and truthful journalists are being threatened by Pakistani security forces. The recent attack on Journalists Hamid Mir is a confirmation of such threats. Mr Mir has raised the issue of missing persons in Balochistan that’s why he was attacked.
Amna Janjua Arrested by GeoNews There have been two kinds of reactions to the issue of the missing persons. Either the aggrieved respond with violence or else strive for justice non-violently. We seem to see enough of the latter, but the peaceful march of the Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) lasted almost six months. The 72 year old Mama Qadeer walked 2000 km. Yet there was not much coverage in the media, especially the mainstream, Urdu channels and print. Presently, Johar Latif, a young man from the Baloch Student Organization is protesting the abduction of the organization’s Chairman, Zahid Baloch , and is slowly dying of his hunger strike. Why does no one cover this peaceful and dignified protest? There is no free media left to report from Balochistan. What occurred in Islamabad yesterday was a betrayal of democracy. When will we begin to separate our heroes from our villains, and stop demonizing the peaceful? Every conflict has its set of problematic parties, but there must at least be the recognition that alongside the violent dissenters, there exist scores of bereaved, peaceful protestors exercising their democratic, human right to demand answers, to demand safety for their families, and justice.
The Huffington Post | by Jessica Prois
Former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford who was shot in the head in Tuscon, Arizona, in 2011 paying tribute to Malala praises the Pakistani activist’s courage and resilience. Gifford wrote for Time that she, like many people, draws inspiration and strength from Malala Yousafzai, who was also shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. “Malala is a testament that women everywhere will not be intimidated into silence.” “I have seen courage in many places, but Malala’s courage is uncommon,” Giffords wrote. In July, Malala spoke at the UN and reminded viewers that everyone’s voice matters in the fight for education. “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” The teen activist, who published her first book I Am Malala in October, was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year. Giffiord wrote, “I have seen courage in many places in the thousands of our nation’s military members I have met and represented; in those who ran toward the gunfire in a Safeway parking lot on January 8, 2011; and in our leaders who take the tough votes because it’s the right thing to do, but Malala’s courage is uncommon.” “In the face of oppression and bitter injustice, she demands education and opportunity. In the face of violence from the hands of cowards, she refuses to back down.” Malala was also selected to write the profile of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in the next election, who also figures on the list of world’s most influential people, calling her “a symbol of strength for women across the world”. The Pakistani activist wrote, “It was she (Clinton) who famously said, ‘Women’s rights are human rights’. She not only spoke those words, but also dedicated her life to empowering women around the world through politics and philanthropy. She has been a source of strength for many women, including myself, my family and those who stood by me after I was attacked.”
Sindh Assembly (SA) session on Monday passed the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2013 prohibiting marriage of children below 18 years.The Bill has recommended three years rigorous imprisonment for those who would be involved in such marriages. However the punishment would not be less than two years. Sindh Minister for Social Welfare Rubina SadatQaimkhani earlier presented the Bill. Special committee of the House prepared draft of the Bill. It reviewed this and other private bill in its meetings.Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) parliamentarian Sharmila Farooqi presented the private bill. With the passing of new bill, Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 stands cancel in Sindh now.Rubina Qaimkhani termed it historical event for Sindh as the House has approved the highly important Bill.She thanked all parliamentary parties, civil society and organisations of women who supported the Bill.Parliamentary leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Syed Sardar Ahmed said implementation of law was necessary if we wanted to save young girls from injustice.Parliamentary leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Samar Ali Khan said he felt proud to be a member of the House who passed such an important Bill. Pakistan Muslim League-N parliamentary leader Irfanullah Marwat said the House has passed the important Bill. However it was necessary to implement in its real spirit.Sindh senior Education and Literacy Minister NisarAhmed Khuhro said now nobody in Sindh would have courage to enforce someone’s child to get marry in violation of the Bill.Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon told the House for the next three months, all advertisements of Sindh government would carry the message about this Bill. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro said representatives of civil society and legal experts were consulted for the draft of Bill.PPP MPA Nadir Magsi stressed the need to enforce the law. He said around 80 percent of underage marriages were not even reported. MPAs Sharmila Farooqi, Khawaja Izhar Ul Hassan, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Dr Seema Zia also praised the Bill. Pakistan Muslim League (F) MPA Nusrat Sehar Abbasi tabled adjournment motion regarding copy cases in Sindh in examinations. However on getting rejected by the chair, opposition walked out from the House. Nisar Khuhro objected the word ‘copy culture.’ He said copy was not culture of Sindh. He said chief minister Sindh holds the authority of educational boards and CM has convened many meeting regarding the stoppage of unfair means in examinations.Sharjeel Memon told the House scarcity of water was not only Karachi’s problem, Sindh was also facing the same situation, he was replying at point of order by MQM’s MPA Saifuddin.Saifuudin told the House in Orangi Town, supporters of a religious political party attacked the water pumping houses. On this point Sharjeel said no one has authority to carry out such attacks. He said government was trying for equal distribution of water in Karachi.On call attention notice raised by MQM MPA Adnan Ahmed, Sharjeel said people of Sindh were braving hot weather and load shedding. He said ‘superman of centre’ Abid Sher Ali has started ordering disconnections of electricity in Sindh, which has enhanced the miseries of people.He said in rural areas of Sindh load shedding upto 16-hour was being carried out. Crisis of water in Karachi started due to shortage of water in Hub Dam, however water supply was being started from Dhabeji pumping station.Talking to media person Nisar Khuhro appealed prime minister to take notice of 20 hours long load shedding in Sindh including Larkana. He said if shut down feeders were not made functional and unannounced load shedding was not stopped, the public representatives of Sindh along with masses would stage sit-in and protests in whole province.Khuhro said, “PML-N was taking revenge from PPP voters for not supporting party in May elections. Talking to media Samar Ali Khan said opposition parties in the House would nominate the candidate for opposition leader unanimously. Sindh Minister for Commerce and Industry Rauf Siddiqui said the objections on Karachi targeted operation would also be raised in future like we did in the past.
While government negotiators distance themselves from talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a high-level meeting on Monday morning, chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, agreed to formalise an agenda for a final push in talks with the terrorists, even as a series of attacks in Karachi and other parts of the country over the last two days left several people dead. An explosion killed three peace committee members in Landikotal on Sunday, while a small bomb exploded inside a Karachi seminary on Monday, killing three children. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar reportedly told the meeting that either the talks needed to end successfully or then be taken to their logical conclusion, a statement that appears to highlight the government’s dwindling patience with the terrorists. Formalising an agenda shows the government is hardening its stance and that the faux-negotiations may soon end. That the government showed any patience at all is remarkable. While it began the process by trying to explore what grounds could be used as a basis for talks, the terrorists began by executing 23 kidnapped Frontier Constabulary personnel and bombing a police bus in Karachi. This confirmed the analysis of many commentators who said that the militant organisation is too committed to violence and its members too brainwashed by their brutal ideology to negotiate with a state they want to destroy and with people they want to kill. The military also believe the terrorists cannot be negotiated with, though they have patiently waited for the government to learn this for itself. After decades spent creating these groups, the military should know. Further confirmation of the terrorists’ commitment to mass murder as a political tool is found in a letter sent by TTP Mohmand commander Omar Khaled Khorasani to the chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Sirajul Haq. The terrorist reportedly congratulated Mr Haq on his election to the party leadership and said that while the two organisations share a common ideology and goal, his organisation is committed to armed struggle and believes said ideology can only be imposed by force. It should be noted that Khorasani’s chapter of the terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for assassinating police counter-terrorism expert SHO Rafiq Tanoli in Karachi four days ago. Certainly, the JI and other religious parties share beliefs with the terrorists. Some commentators call them the ‘soft face’ of terrorists in the political mainstream. As a political party acceptable to the terrorists — and given their consistent failure at the polls — the JI has a vested interest in negotiations continuing. The terrorist ideological agenda is similar to their own hence they may try to create a political furore around military action. Both the JI and the terrorists say the government needs to be sincere since negotiations have reached an impasse, with terrorists demanding the military withdraw from South Waziristan and the release of almost 1,000 prisoners they claim are non-combatants. The government has released more than 30 people with no reciprocation in the release of terrorist-held hostages such as the sons of the former PM of Pakistan and the late governor of Punjab, Ali Haider Gillani and Shahbaz Taseer respectively, who are confirmed non-combatants. A recent video of Gillani in chains and begging for his life was debunked by his father. However, fears for these hostages’ safety is very real. JI chief Sirajul Haq recently said, “The failure of the talks will be a failure for the whole country,” conveniently ignoring the inability of the terrorists to control their own ‘splinter groups’. On Sunday, the JI member of the terrorists’ negotiating committee, Professor Ibrahim, claimed that a “real dialogue was yet to begin” and the negotiations should continue no matter how many times they fail. Mr Haq meanwhile hinted at the possibility of a coup in an apparent attempt to drive a wedge between the military and the government, who are steadily converging in their perception of how to deal with the terrorists. Failure in the talks is measured in lives taken by the terrorists, and this is something the government is waking up to. With the military confident it can defeat the terrorists, the waiting game appears to be drawing to a close.
Against signs of growing cooperation between Pakistan and China in various areas, a Chinese bus manufacturer is upset over the deal it has got from the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) which is owned by the Punjab government. The Chinese company, Ankai, has approached its embassy in Islamabad for help in resolving the issue. In case a resolution is not possible, it has warned that it will blacklist the LTC, and review its relations with the Punjab government. In December 2011, the LTC signed an agreement with Ankai to buy buses. At the heart of the dispute is Ankai’s insistence that under the agreement it was to sell 575 buses to the LTC at a cost of $42.5 million ($70,000 per vehicle). These vehicles were to be delivered in various batches. Ankai was required to provide after-sale service in Lahore, for which charges were fixed. The LTC purchased 350 buses from Ankai in three batches, which were then sold to various operators. The Chinese manufacturer accuses the LTC of backing out of its commitment of buying another 225 buses. The LTC officials tell Dawn the decision came after Ankai failed to meet the contractual obligation of establishing a state-of-the-art workshop in Lahore for maintenance. They say the LTC was never ‘bound’ to buy 575 buses from Ankai. “The agreement clearly states the government-LTC will buy up to 575 buses from Ankai,” LTC Chief Executive Officer Khwaja Haider Latif says with an emphasis on ‘up to’. “We were not bound to purchase 575 buses. Moreover the company’s after-sale service is very poor and they have not established the requisite workshop.” A study of the agreement does confirm this LTC assertion. It says the LTC “will buy up to 575 buses” from Ankai. But while elaborating, the agreement’s clause 10.1 mentions that “Ankai will be responsible for timely manufacturing and supply of a fleet of 575 buses to the LTC in various batches”. “Why do they (the LTC officials) only focus on the part which mentions ‘up to 575 buses’. They must go through the explanatory clause,” says Azam Chohan, Ankai’s legal adviser on corporate affairs. Under the contract, the LTC was bound to pay a sum of $12,600 to Ankai against each bus’s maintenance cost (for 500,000km). The LTC is accused of not following this. “We are surprised that they have not paid us the so far calculated maintenance costs even when the buses we repaired at our workshop,” Chohan says. “What we have here is a state-of-the-art workshop, and we have been maintaining the 350 buses delivered to the LTC by Ankai. We are even providing service through mobile workshops to the buses which were part of the same fleet but were operated in Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Multan, Rawalpindi and other cities of the province. We have a proof and will take the LTC to court on this.” He also blames some senior LTC officials for blocking clearance of maintenance bills totaling Rs150 million.“This is a very serious situation,” Chohan says. “Ankai has already manufactured the remaining 225 buses which are to be delivered to the LTC under the contract. These are worth millions of dollars. They are all parked at our warehouses in China.” He also shares with Dawn the contents of a letter Ankai has recently sent to the Chinese ambassador in Islamabad, requesting him to take up the issue with the Punjab government. “If there is no progress, the company will blacklist the LTC in China,” he says. For his part, LTC Chief Executive Haider Latif maintains it is Ankai and not the LTC which has failed to fulfill its contractual obligations. “Not only is their workshop not up to the mark, they have also been involved in overcharging the bus operators. They have ignored many reminders and even a legal notice that we sent to them,” he says. Latif says the complaints came from the private operators the LTC sold the buses to. “Eventually, we decided to make some alternate maintenance arrangements. We found some vendors at Badami Bagh to directly import the parts from China. The arrangement was successful, but it did annoy people working with Ankai in Lahore. “Increasing complaints from the operators’ and shortage of CNG are two reasons behind our reluctance to purchase more buses from Ankai,” he says. “As for the maintenance costs, we are ready pay Ankai as soon as they have that promised modern workshop here.”
Relatives and sympathizers of missing persons, led by rights activist Amna Masood Janjua, vowed to continue their protest at Islamabad’s D. Chowk on Tuesday, SAMAA reported. Yesterday, police came out in full force against the protests. The law-enforcers used teargas shells and baton charged the protestors, including women. At least 12 protestors, Defence of Human Rights (DHR) chief Amna Masood Janjua among them, were detained after being rough handled by police. Meanwhile, Janjua held Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar responsible for the situation, saying that police could not take such extreme step without the orders of top officials. She opposed sacking of police officers due to the crackdown, and vowed to continue the sit-in unless her meeting with Prime Minister. The protestors gathered at the same spot today and continued the protest, chanting slogans against the government.