Thursday, July 3, 2014
Pakistan has had both vicious and stupid rulers, but God save us from some combination of the two. With his homicidal statements, Imran Khan is proving to be just like the Taliban he apparently admires. At his latest rally in Bahawalpur on Friday, Khan threatened the government with a ‘million man’ march on the capital if his ‘demands’ are not met. Cashing in on the scandal caused by the Punjab police last week, he said that if the police mistreated or shot at his supporters in the march, he would “hang them with his own hands”. Accompanying this murderous threat, he listed four ‘demands’: why did Nawaz Sharif make a victory speech on the night of May 11, when election results were unconfirmed; who are the returning officers responsible to; what role did Najam Sethi play in election rigging, and last but not least, what role did former Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry play in manipulating the results of the elections. The latter two accusations (not demands) are in fact serious enough for the named parties to respond with defamation suits against Khan since he has not provided a shred of evidence to support his claims. The only word left to describe Mr Khan now is ‘a petulant child’, a sad comedown from the hopeful days of last May. Evidence of his mental instability is overwhelming. It is a criminal offence to threaten to hang people, even the police! It is absurd pointing to Nawaz Sharif’s speech as proof that rigging occurred. Furthermore, in what can only be described as scraping the bottom of the barrel, Imran is also blatantly dishonest about the contents of the speech in which Sharif said, “Results are still coming in, but this much is confirmed we are the single largest party so far.” Al Jazeera reported on the night of May 11 that the PML-N was leading in 119 of 272 National Assembly seats. If confronted with this, Imran will probably say that Al Jazeera was also part of the rigging conspiracy! The fact is that by the night of May 11, the trends were relatively clear and the PML-N did not announce a victory, but expected one. Imran conceded defeat himself and congratulated Nawaz Sharif by the night of May 12. If he was so convinced his party was robbed, why did he acknowledge the results of the election or form the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (a question he avoids)? One could also ask Khan why on the night of May 11, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf workers from Rawalpindi were celebrating their victory in KP when they clashed with police and the incident was covered by the press. Following Imran’s logic, were his own workers part of a rigging plot? These holes in his argument more than imply that his current posture is driven by overweening ambition rather than principle. The Khan rhetoric on display in Bahawalpur verged on the insane. Claiming that all opposition parties think the election was rigged, Khan has missed the fact that no other opposition party is with him. His threat to the police is criminal. It is not acceptable from the leader of a political party. However, Khan does not care what anyone thinks and he does not care about the country; he is convinced of his own rightness and willing to let the country suffer to prove it. He is too committed to this course of action now for any good sense to penetrate the egotism guiding his actions. The country is fighting a war, but one he does not believe in, and so he is willing to sacrifice its future to be proved right, and the devil take the facts or ground realities. Khan may take himself down, that is his right, but his current course could take innocent people down with him too, and that is unacceptable. Wake up Imran Khan, the country is in a tough situation and the need of the hour is clarity. Instead of spending on futile expensive rallies and stretching the resources of the state in protecting him and his supporters, Imran should work for the welfare of the people of KP who elected his party.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists is successfully in process and the security forces have seized another mines developing factory during the operation. According to ISPR, the security forces have occupied a compound in Danday Darya Khail area, which was used to create and develop mines. Terrorists used this compound for multiple activities. The Compound was also being used for training camps and manufacturing of suicide jackets.
Mass vaccinations for children to help stem spread from those fleeing hostilities in North Waziristan
For years the red pins stuck into the large map of Pakistan on the wall of one of the UN's most experienced polio-busters have shown the disease in steady retreat. Where once they could be found all over, the pins – each one representing a child killed or crippled by the disease – had been pushed back by relentless public health campaigns into just three clusters. Two are located in and around the cities of Karachi and Peshawar in the south and north-west, where the disease flourishes in unsanitary slums in which drinking water is easily contaminated with human waste. But the majority erupt from a small pocket of land representing less than 1% of the country on the border with neighbouring Afghanistan. The explosion of pins on the map is not an accurate depiction of the scale of the problem, with 54 cases in the tribal agency of North Waziristan this year. "We ran out of space for more pins a long time ago," said Elias Durry, the head of the World Health Organisation's anti-polio effort in Pakistan, who is also a veteran of successful campaigns to stamp out the disease in Africa and Yemen. North Waziristan's ability to generate more than half the world's polio cases in the past year has made it the biggest threat to the global effort to stamp out a disease that can easily reinfect areas that have been cleared. It poses such a risk that since 1 June most travellers, young and old alike, have had to get revaccinated before leaving the country in case they take the disease with them. While everything about tackling a highly infectious disease in a country with widespread poverty is hard, curbing the uncontrolled outbreak in North Waziristan has been impossible. No health polio vaccinator had been able to step in to the tribal agency since June 2012 when the militants who controlled the area banned all health workers in what they said was retaliation for US drone strikes. It followed revelations that the CIA had used a hepatitis B vaccination programme in the city of Abbottabad as a front for trying to track down the former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Health workers compared North Waziristan to a gushing tap that could not be turned off, forcing the campaign to focus resources on elaborate efforts just to stop it spreading. So the launch on 15 June of a massive military operation against the foreign and domestic terrorists who had come to rule North Waziristan is seen by Durry and his colleagues as a huge step forward.
"It's a real opportunity for us," he said. "We have been desperate to get access to these people for a long time." While it has created misery for about half a million people who have had to flee their homes, the internally displaced have been forced to pass through army checkpoints, where they have been vaccinated. Already almost 200,000 previously unreachable civilians fleeing hostilities have been treated with drops of a solution containing a highly weakened form of the polio virus. But in underdeveloped countries one treatment is not sufficient for often malnourished and sick children to develop the immunity required to ensure the virus eventually dies out. It means children have to be continuously re-dosed, with those in low-risk areas generally expected to receive about six doses a year while those living in the teeming slums of big cities receive the drops up to 15 times annually. Such efforts are helping to drench Pakistan's children with polio drops – in the past two years more than 420m doses of oral polio vaccine have been administered. The displaced children of North Waziristan will have to be tracked. Making the task harder is the unwillingness of most civilians from the area to stay in the refugee camp set up by the army. The country has already mounted a huge effort to target children more or less at random as they travel around the country, in addition to the traditional door-to-door campaigns.
Teams are operating at hundreds of "transit stations", such as the grand Raj-era train station in Rawalpindi, where young polio vaccinators and their police guard have 15 minutes to work their way down the trains before they press on with their journeys. Passing through the grimy old carriages, a two-man team look for children younger than five. If their parents agree, the vaccinators whip out small plastic phials from a cooler box and briskly put drops into the children's mouths. On a train containing dozens of families travelling en masse from the sprawling port city of Karachi – a polio hotspot – to the town of Mirpur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, there isn't enough time to cover everyone and the train pulls out of the station before they reach the final two carriages. "We do our best, but the trains are always very busy," said Bilal Aftab, one of the vaccinators, as he watched the line of green carriages trundle onwards. Not surprisingly, vaccination fatigue is setting in among some parents. One mother crossly swished away the vaccination team when they poked their heads over a privacy sheet tied across their section of the carriage. "We gave it to our daughter many times and it gave her a bad stomach," she said, adding that she had heard stories of the drops damaging some children. Parental opposition is just one of the many problems that have made Pakistan a particularly hard nut for global polio elimination efforts. There is widespread misinformation about the vaccine, which has been demonised as being part of a western plot to curb birth rates in the Islamic world.
In late 2012 militants began killing vaccination teams, many of them led by an army of "lady health workers", creating yet more problems. It has all added to the already difficult and expensive task of wiping out the last vestiges of the disease. About $227m (£133m) will be spent this year in Pakistan alone. It is the sort of outlay that horrifies sceptics, who believe the ambition to eradicate rather than control polio is a grandiose pipe dream that overburdens developing countries and diverts resources from many other pressing health needs. With only one other human disease – smallpox – successfully eradicated, some argue the goal is ultimately unrealisable. They point out the target year of 2000 for global eradication has been repeatedly pushed back. Advocates say it is worth it because once polio is eradicated from the three remaining countries where it is endemic the benefits will be cost-free for the rest of time. Durry says the intense focus on polio has helped push through essential reform of the country's health service, which was once plagued with "ghost" vaccination teams. This year Peshawar pioneered a massive campaign to inoculate entire populations of children under the age of five on a single day, repeating the operation for up to 12 consecutive weeks. To deal with the threat from gunmen, the streets were flooded with 4,000 policemen on vaccination days, while neighbourhoods were cordoned off and motorbike-riding banned. There have also been efforts to challenge popular suspicions about a high-profile, well-funded campaign backed by international bodies and western philanthropists such as Bill Gates. Local campaigns have been renamed and rebranded so there is no longer any mention of international organisations. The Islamic Development Bank has come forward to pick up the bill for the 2014 effort. Respected religious scholars have been pressed into publicly supporting the effort and many teams carry small booklets of pro-vaccination edicts issued by scholars. But despite growing optimism that the campaign derailed by Pakistan's religious militants may at last be getting back on track, the fundamental difficulty of attacking the disease means the red pins will not disappear completely for years to come.
What is polio?
Polio is an ancient scourge that has been paralysing, deforming and killing its victims for millennia. One stone carving from ancient Egypt has even been found showing one sufferer with a characteristic withered leg walking with the aid of a stick. • There is no cure for the disease, caused by one of three different viruses which enters the body through the mouth, proliferates in the intestine then invades the central nervous system, destroying cells that activate muscles. It causes irreversible paralysis • Its ideal environment are crowded cities where the disease can easily be passed on, usually by faeces contaminating drinking water. The vast majority of people infected with the virus never display any of its symptoms, meaning they can spread it on to thousands of others before the first case of paralysis emerges. • Large epidemics in the early 20th century were responsible for killing and paralysing hundreds of thousands of children. The first vaccine was developed in the 1950s. That was largely superseded by the invention of orally administered vaccines that are cheaper and easier to roll out on a mass scale.
A total of 110,000 Ukrainians who have left for Russia in an attempt to save their lives probably just want to visit their relatives and then travel back, State Department spokeswoman Mari Harf said at a briefing, thus calling into question the tremendous number of people reported to be now seeking asylum in Russia. The United States generally doubts the UN figures on Ukraine refugees, endorsing Petr Poroshenko's decision to resume the punitive operation in Ukraine's southeast. Meanwhile, the so-called ceasefire is something that never happened, stresses VR's expert Francis Boyle, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law."There was not much about a ceasefire to talk about, Poroshenko's hostilities continued, there was firing across the border with Russia."
The declared ceasefire served as an opportunity, a pretext taken up by Poroshenko to step up the sweeping military campaign and "bring up major military forces that we're now seeing unleashed on the Russian speakers in Donbass." Mr. Boyle comprehends these outrageous acts as war crimes, openly calling these crimes against humanity "verging on genocide." The order clearly arrived from the US, as despite the preceding four-way talks between the European foreign chiefs and the agreement President Putin clinched with his European counterparts, Poroshenko still chose to persist on with his military campaign.
"It's clear that he's been ordered to do this by the United States government just before ending of the so-called ceasefire. President Putin spoke with France's Hollande and Merkel of Germany and thought he'd reached an agreement to deescalate the conflict, but apparently the Americans ordered Poroshenko to go forward with his offensive." Poroshenko seems to have been pushed into turning a deaf ear to anything that Russia's Lavrov has previously worked out with his EU colleagues, and it's clearly not the decision that Poroshenko took himself. A most biased approach is all there, the expert concludes, adding the coming days may see "total hell breaking loose" in the region. "I certainly wish foreign minister Lavrov best of luck on this contact group but the problem is that the Americans want that and I don't think they're going to pay the least bit of attention to anything Lavrov has worked out with the French and the Germans and indeed by July 5 there could be total hell breaking loose over there for the Russian speakers in Donbass, and we could see the whole thing quite quickly collapsing into outright genocide against cities and people there." The situation shows no signs of upcoming change, taking into account the most recent talks yielding little result if any. Indeed, how could a ceasefire breakdown occur if originally there was no ceasefire at all? France and Germany, at least, were apparently confused with the US' efforts, Mr. Boyle remarks:'I regret to say, with all the respect to foreign minister Lavrov and Putin who really bent over backwards to solve this matter, I'm afraid the offensive against the Russian speakers will continue.' "The four-way talks showed France and Germany certainly had serious reservations about what the US government is doing here in literally propelling Poroshenko to wage new genocidal onslaught against the Russian speakers in Donbass. But look just before the breakdown of the so-called ceasefire: President Putin reached an agreement with Germany and France and it looks as if the United States ordered Poroshenko to pay no difference to it."
Citing an air of uncertainty around the whole string of Ukraine-related issues, the expert comes up with the most gloomy predictions of what the situation would evolve into in the country's southeast. He says the standoff could develop into "an outright genocide" with the Ukrainian army attacking populated areas with heavy weaponry, making the case similar to that of Bosnia atrocities after Yugoslavia split up in the early 1990s. Mr. Boyle surely has sufficient reasons to equate the two conflicts, as he worked as a lawyer during the Bosnia campaign and won two court orders on embattled Bosnia's behalf in a war that he calls "a war of extermination" against the nation, with the sole purpose of "desisting" Serbs from committing their acts of genocide. The siege of Bosnian populated areas looked very much the same back then: "I regret to say, with all the respect to foreign minister Lavrov and Putin who really bent over backwards to solve this matter, I'm afraid the offensive against the Russian speakers will continue and it could degenerate an outright genocide where we see Ukraine deploying extremely heavy weapons on the population centers in Donbass. Degenerating in something like Bosnia (I was Bosnia's lawyer in the war of extermination against them and won two court orders on their behalf against Serbia to cease, desist from committing all acts of genocide against Bosnia) So this, I regret to say, is reminding me of the earlier stages of the siege of Bosnian cities and towns by the Serbian army before it degenerated into outright genocide." The Obama administration apparently had a chance of quelling the violence, but they never took it, Francis Boyle sums up. "This could have gone along with the agreements struck by President Putin before this offensive. The Obama administration could go along with the agreement just reached today with the contact group, with Russia-France and foreign minister Lavrov." The fact that they ignored the previously struck deals and encouraged Poroshenko to do the same, signals the US has a somewhat different intention, Brzezinski being the one to decide on the course of action, or more likely Obama's advisor on Russia who happens to be Brzezinski's protégé. The reasons are voiced outright: "You [radio VR's host] just quoted Ms. Harf there from the State Department saying the Obama administration fully supports Poroshenko's decision, that's correct: Poroshenko's taking his orders from the Obama administration…Brzezinski is really calling the shots here, he was Obama's mentor at Columbia. He stepped all of Obama's national security council with his own people, Obama's top advisor on Russia is Brzezinski's protégé. We know for a fact that Brzezinski hates Russia and the Russians with a passion, wants to see it broken up. Right now it seems to me that Brzezinski wants to provoke Russia into invading Ukraine to protect the Russian speakers." If Russia takes action and responds to the "provocation", NATO troops are likely to get engaged shortly: "This then could lead to Poroshenko inviting the NATO troops right now surrounding Ukraine, to inter Ukraine. And you could see they all raced with the Dnepr river with NATO and Russia "eye bolt – eye bolt ", used metaphor from the Cuban missile crisis." Mr. Boyle finds it essential to be outspoken on the Ukrainian issue, as he openly condemns what the US is currently doing, both as a US citizen and a law expert. This is the line of action to be virtually ashamed of, as the US was originally supposed to stand for a totally different set of values. The danger of the Ukraine standoff shouldn't be underestimated either, he says, as it now demonstrates pretty many similarities with the Cuban missile crisis or the Berlin one: "This could be just as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis or the Berlin crisis. It's an extremely dangerous situation. I see no break being put on this by the Obama administration. As a US citizen, lawyer and someone who teaches international human rights the harsh statements [by Mari Harf] are completely outrageous and unacceptable. And I condemn them in the strongest terms possible. She's a disgrace to what the United States of America is supposed to stand for when it comes to human rights." Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_07_03/Genocide-on-its-way-Ukraine-may-see-total-hell-breaking-loose-Law-Prof-8125/
U.S. employment growth jumped in June and the jobless rate closed in on a six-year low, decisive evidence the economy was moving forward at a brisk clip after a surprisingly big slump at the start of the year. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 288,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, its lowest level since September 2008, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for April and May were revised to show a total of 29,000 more jobs created than previously reported. "It’s an extremely bullish report. It's a report that really checks off all the positive boxes. I don’t think you could have asked for a stronger read," said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York. Employment has now grown above a 200,000-jobs pace for five straight months for the first time since the technology boom in the late 1990s. The economy has added an average of 231,000 jobs per month this year, the highest six-month average since 2006. The data gave a lift to U.S. stocks, with the Dow Jones industrial average crossing the 17,000 threshold for the first time. Prices for U.S. Treasuries fell, while the U.S. dollar gained against a number of major currencies, as traders bet on an earlier interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. JPMorgan moved up its forecast for a rate increase to the third quarter of next year from the fourth quarter, while interest rate futures moved to show a 55 percent probability of a rate hike in June 2015. "Markets are torn between the good economic news and the risk this entails for a super accommodative Federal Reserve," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz SE in Newport Beach, California. The report, which added to signs that have suggested a plunge in economic output in the first quarter was a weather-driven anomaly, showed widespread job gains. It also showed a bit of a drop in the number of Americans who have been out of work for at least 27 weeks, which at 3.1 million was the smallest pool since February 2009. Average hourly earnings, which are being closely watched for signs of wage pressures that could signal dwindling slack in the labor market, increased by 6 cents in June. The 12-month gain slipped to 2.0 percent from 2.1 percent, suggesting little build up in wage-related inflation pressures. LABOR MARKET TIGHTENING The 0.2 percentage point drop in the jobless rate occurred despite a swelling of the labor force. Nevertheless, the labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, was steady at 62.8 percent, a low struck in December for the first time since 1978. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want a job but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs, fell to 12.1 percent, the lowest level since October 2008. The long-term unemployed accounted for 32.8 percent of the 9.5 million jobless Americans. The median duration of unemployment fell to 13.1 weeks from 14.6 weeks in May, the lowest in more than five years. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has argued there is still considerable slack in the labor market, citing the low labor force participation, which she says partly reflects the departure of discouraged job seekers who could be enticed back into the workforce if conditions were to tighten. In her view, that would dampen wage pressures and allow the Fed to bide its time before raising overnight borrowing costs, which it has held near zero since December 2008. Job gains in June were across all sectors. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 16,000, rising for the 11th straight month. Construction jobs advanced for the sixth consecutive month and government employment increased 26,000. Services industries employment jumped by 236,000, the biggest gain since October 2012. A separate report on Thursday showed services sector activity expanded strongly in June.
Under assault, Afghanistan's nascent yet dynamic democracy is reaching a dangerous impasse, as claims of fraud and rigging remain insoluble, fuelling a crisis of confidence as a result of systemic flaws and political one-upmanship in the run-off elections held in mid-June. Three paths remain to untangle the current stalemated situation: The first: The technical and legal option to aim for a timely, credible outcome through a transparent process involving Afghan stakeholders, with reliable international technical and professional oversight. The second: The political path that is already in progress, involving mediators and facilitators between the main actors to formulate a win-win solution within a collaborative framework. The third: A mix of the two, whereby election results are legitimised through a credible revision process acceptable to contending sides; whilst in parallel, the candidates take the high road and agree on a shared political outcome. Failure to take the right path by the end of July will seriously jeopardise the country's political transition and may lead to untenable consequences. Sensing the gravity of the situation, US Secretary of State John Kerry called Afghan President Hamid Karzai on July 1 urging that Afghan electoral institutions "conduct a full and thorough review that ensures the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process". Consequences of failure A political crisis is the least desirable outcome for the country at a time when Taliban cells backed by foreign militants and narco-traffickers are making a concerted effort to take control of several districts in the southern province of Helmand - not dissimilar from recent Islamic State (the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - or ISIL) encroachments into Iraq and Syria. While public disenchantment with Karzai's government is palpable, political mistrust is at all-time high. The source of deep concern is the realisation after several rounds of elections that the election commissions are not as independent as stipulated by the country's laws. Since the president is to a large extent responsible for the selection of commissioners, he has come under direct scrutiny, and is suspected of orchestrating the current dilemma.
Abdullah Abdullah, one of the two leading finalists, broke relations with the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) after his proposals on ways and means of dealing with allegations of fraud and irregularity were abruptly rejected by the electoral body on June 29. A day earlier, thousands of peaceful anti-fraud protesters descended on several Afghan cities, asking for transparency in vote and voter counts, and election re-runs in specific areas where the tally was said to be much higher than the number of eligible voters, based on data produced by the Central Statistics Office and electoral precedence. Abdullah, who opted out of the controversial 2009 run-off against Karzai because of a trust deficit in the electoral system, appeared among the demonstrators and his supporters, vowing not to back down this time. He also asked that every clean vote be separated from the fraudulent ones, as part of a process that is not tainted and trusted by all sides. He said his campaign tabulation of turnout numbers, based on monitoring and reporting data during the run-off, shows a discrepancy of about two million votes when compared with the IEC's initial data. Beneficiary of fraud? Meanwhile, the rival team, led by Ashraf Ghani, has tried to avoid being blemished as the beneficiary of fraud, while maintaining cordial relations with electoral commissioners who were selected by Karzai, as part of a convoluted process last year. Ghani's team was put under pressure, however, when various audio tapes acquired from unknown sources were released on three occasions by Abdullah's campaign, alledging collusion to commit fraud in several provinces. The phone recordings involve the IEC's senior and local staff, provincial and local government officials, Ghani supporters and, in some instances, staff from the office of the Chief of Staff to Karzai. The audio tape saga led to the resignation of the influential head of the IEC's Secretariat, who in one tape is alleged to have used code words when he ordered a local official to "take the sheep up the mountain, stuff them, and bring them back". While the tapes have yet to be authenticated by competent authorities, there is little doubt among pundits that they are genuine. Pointing to presidential palace involvement, Abdullah, in turn, accused Karzai and members of his close-knit staff of orchestrating a complex plan involving election fraud for political ends. Under pressure, Karzai first agreed to a United Nations' oversight role, and later asked his two vice presidents - one of whom, Yunus Qanooni, is a former associate of Abdullah's - and other facilitators to start mediation efforts between the two presidential contenders. While Karzai is scrambling to distance himself from the growing scandal, he is also trying to manage the election calendar to suit his own political strategy. He has reiterated on several occasions that he expects partial results to be announced on July 2, and the final tally by July 22, in order to hand over power on August 2. On July 1, the IEC postponed the announcement of initial results set for July 2, and decided to recount votes from more than 2000 polling centres. Kerry welcomed the IEC decision and asked that measures be taken "to address the concerns of individual candidates". Kerry also stressed on the need to uphold "national unity" and support a process that "produces a president who can govern the country". Best-case scenarios Key strategic questions that remain unanswered for the moment are whether Karzai is seeking a stalemate for some ulterior motive, or whether a secret pact between Ghani and the president is at the root of the current crisis?
In either case, Abdullah's stance seems justified, as he fears a repeat of 2009 election or worse. At a meeting he held with members of the international community on July 1, he insisted on reliable mechanisms to assure transparency as a key pre-requisite for re-engagement. In the first instance, the independent status of the IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) need to be restored. Then Abdullah's multi-point proposals need to be revisited. Thirdly, any attempt to recount, re-run and adjudicate needs to be performed according to established laws, and have the endorsement and involvement of all sides. A UN technical team must be assigned alongside competent Afghan monitoring groups to review the processes and recommend practical steps to address the key questions pertaining to the total turnout on election day and provincial turnout on the basis of population and eligibility. On the political front, it is incumbent on Karzai's side to restore confidence and impartiality, as he had pledged to Abdullah prior to the elections. This means avoiding stoking tensions in order to concoct a crisis that would then provide him with political advantage and continuity. Both Abdullah and Ghani need to step away from zero-sum options and base their calculations on the result of the popular vote after it is legitimised. It is also unhelpful for any side to speak or pretend to be the winner before the process is complete. Devil in the details Yes, the devil is in the details when it comes to Afghanistan's convoluted and multi-layered political and electoral systems. But all sides are now cognisant of the intricacies, and no side can claim, nor should attempt, to deceive the other. Doing so would be tantamount to duplicity. It is now also clear that the monitoring performed at high cost by Afghan and international outfits failed to identify large-scale fraud. Future monitoring will need to be more professional and more accountable. It is now incumbent upon all sides to re-evaluate their strategies, recommit to a transparent democratic process and agree to a resolution that would not endanger hard-earned gains, and Afghanistan's stability and unity. This can best be achieved if they put political ego and manipulative tactics aside, and aim for a collaborative outcome after election data is sorted out and its legitimacy assured. This would not only restore Afghan people's faith in democracy as a solid foundation for future generations, but will also produce a unified government with a stronger mandate, wider acceptance and enhanced competence to govern more effectively.
Afghanistan was supposed to release preliminary results from its June 14 presidential runoff this week. Instead, it delayed them until next week to give its Independent Election Commission time to audit ballots from 1,930 polling stations in 30 provinces. That investigation offers one of the last chances to dispel the acrimony and uncertainty that have hung over what could yet be a signal of triumph for Afghanistan's fledgling democracy: a peaceful transfer of power engineered by millions of voters defying Taliban threats of violence and disruption. For that to happen, however, the two candidates -- former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai -- must be willing to accept the results, which even under the best-case scenario will be imperfect. The runoff election triggered more than 2,500 alleged violations by both campaigns involving everything from intimidation and ballot stuffing to underage voting. Abdullah, who won the first round, has complained of grossly inflated turnout figures that point to huge fraud. In an echo of his withdrawal from a 2009 runoff against current president Hamid Karzai, Abdullah threatened not to accept the results until his complaints were investigated and acted upon. One senior commission official he accused has since resigned, and the commission made its decision to delay issuing results. Even after they come out, more fraud investigations will continue until the final results are announced July 22. The integrity of the voting process is of course integral to the credibility of the election results, as well as to the legitimacy of the next president. That said, certainty is not attainable -- something both candidates should accept. It's not just because this is Afghanistan, where security is iffy, corruption is rife, and 21 million voting cards were issued for roughly 12 million eligible voters. Controversies over voting irregularities are not unknown even in nations with electronic voting and blow-dried pundits with touchscreen maps. Moreover, both Ghani and Abdullah recognized the possibility of widespread fraud, and both agreed to abide by the terms the commission initially set forth. Finally, dubious turnout figures don't eliminate the possibility of shifts in voting patterns by ethnic groups now choosing between two instead of the original nine candidates. In short, the best one can hope for are credible results untainted by "industrial-scale" fraud. That likely means a narrower, and thus potentially even more contested, margin of victory. In that kind of environment, and with the big challenges facing Afghanistan, don't both candidates have an even greater responsibility to put the national interest in a successful transition ahead of their own political interests? They might ask a former U.S. vice president what he thinks.
The electoral team of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said Thursday that they will not accept the preliminary vote results for the runoff presidential election. Baryalai Arsalaye, head of Dr. Abdullah’s electoral team, said the fraudulent and clean votes have not been separated during the vote counting and therefore their team will not accept the preliminary results which will be released on Monday. Arsalaye said they still boycott any decision by the independent election commission and independent electoral complaints commission. He said the audit of votes in 1930 polling sites is not enough since the revaluation of votes in these polling stations will not impact the election process. He insisted that all those ballot boxes which have ballot papers in favour of a single candidate should be audited. Abdullah’s team claims that over 2 million fraudulent votes have been casted in favour of his rival during the runoff election and accused the electoral bodies for being involved in industrial scale fraud. The preliminary votes results for the runoff presidential election was due to be announced on Wednesday; however, the election commission officials said the release was delayed until Monday to ensure transparency has been considered during the vote counting process. IEC officials said the ballot papers from 1930 polling stations will be audited and will then release the preliminary vote results.
A number of analysts have criticized the government's negligence in the release of the high-ranking Taliban prisoners, claiming that a majority of the released inmates have reintegrated with the insurgents. According to the Afghan Minister of Defense, Bismillah Mohammad, Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Omar's assistant—who was among the released prisoners—is now leading the war. It is the first time that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has publicly expressed criticism of the released prisoners. "Majority of those released from the prisons are now leading the war in Afghanistan," Mohammad said. "Sadr, Mullah Omar's assistant, for instance was among the released from the Pul-e-Charkhi Prison." Analysts have stated that the release of dangerous inmates—against whom sufficient evidence exists—was a big mistake. "We can only detain people against whom we have criminal evidence and the government must have the capability to follow up on those they decide to release," University lecturer Nasrullah Estanikzai said. "The responsibility for the insecurities lies with those who released the inmates despite having sufficient evidence against them." Furthermore, military experts assert that the government is responsible for the negative consequences of releasing the prisoners. "We have heard the names and positions of the inmates released from Bagram through media," a military expert, Jawed Kohistani, said. "The government released them cautiously and in cooperation with some circles working closely with the Taliban. The responsibility of the current war in Afghanistan is on the government." The release of the Taliban prisoners had followed major criticisms inside and outside the country, but received no response from the Afghan government.
The United States National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is a violation of international law, said Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam. During the weekly Foreign Office briefing, Aslam raised the NSA spying issue and lodged a protest with the US. Under a 2010 certification approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), NSA was permitted to spy on 193 foreign governments as well as foreign factions, political organisations and other entities, Washington Post reported. According to the certification, the agency would require new certification approved by the court to permit such surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Sparing Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand with whom US has broad no-spying arrangements, the NSA was allowed to spy on 193 countries including Pakistan. The list also includes two factions of foreign nations Palestinian Authority; Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on NSA’s radar. What was most shocking revelation was the fact that under the FISA court certification NSA was even authorised to spy on foreign-based political organisations including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from Pakistan and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from India. The list also includes the Amal movement of Lebanon, Bolivaria Continental Coordinator, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the National Salvation Front.
TAKE charge. Own the mission. Provide leadership. Six years into a transition to democracy and days into what is perhaps the most significant military operation ever undertaken on domestic soil, the government’s diffident, lackadaisical response is difficult to accept. In terms of an explanation, there is at least one that has often been presented: the government did not want a military operation because it feared the consequences of militant blowback in the PML-N’s heartland of Punjab. Yet, if true, that would hardly amount to a justification for the PML-N slipping into the background and allowing the military to take the lead. To begin with, the PML-N threw its entire weight behind dialogue with the outlawed TTP and those talks did not fail for lack of an effort on the government’s part. What, then, was the alternative? The PML-N itself had always maintained that talks were the preferred, but not the only, option. Even now, with the prime minister making belated attempts to provide leadership, such as by way of the boilerplate press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, the fundamental problem remains unaddressed: the PML-N government is behind the curve, being shaped by events rather than shaping them. Part of the problem appears to be the way Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has structured his cabinet and those he has picked to occupy key positions. Take the absence from the scene of Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, previously indefatigable and keen to court the media spotlight. Is the interior minister unwell? Is he sulking? If so, why? Just when it needs a full-time interior minister to urgently marshal the civilian law-enforcement and intelligence resources in the cities to prepare for militant blowback, the country seems to have an interior ministry running on auto-pilot. Have a look at other key ministries. The law ministry is officially being run by the information minister, who seems uninterested in doing much beyond responding to taunts by Imran Khan. Perhaps the PML-N would argue that its first choice for the law ministry, Zahid Hamid, was forced to step aside because of a Musharraf-related controversy and he is doing his best to unofficially steer the affairs of the law ministry from his official science and technology perch. But is that really good enough? That it is either Mr Hamid and a barely-there Pervaiz Rashid or no one else? Defence Minister Khawaja Asif is among the walking wounded, having been personally targeted by the very forces he is supposed to be in charge of. The foreign ministry has two heads and no minister — and now even reaching out to Afghan President Hamid Karzai is done through a special interlocutor. Is it really possible to provide leadership if the cabinet itself is not complete and some of its members are unwilling or unable to deliver?
In a major development, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police on Thursday claimed to have arrested a second suspect involved in an attack on a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft at Peshawar airport last week. According to police, security forces and police jointly carried out a raid in Suleman Khel area of Peshawar on intelligence information and arrested Waliullah, a militant commander of Dara Adam Khel and associated with Shahid Group working under the umbrella of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in connection with firing on the PIA plane. Police added that he was also wanted in a number of other cases. Earlier on Wednesday, police had also arrested a militant commander of Shahid group, Ali Haider for his alleged involvement in the plane attack. According to police, PK 756 was coming from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Peshawar when it was attacked on June 24, while landing at the Bacha Khan International Airport. At least one female passenger was killed, while four others including two flight stewards were injured in the incident.
Pakistan's Hypocrite General: Thank you Athar Abbas – need for a truth and reconciliation commission was never greater than now
Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the former head of the ISPR, has revealed in no uncertain terms that it was Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani who didn’t allow the launch of an operation in 2010 because of his indecisiveness. According to Gen. Athar Abbas “It had been decided in principle that preparations for the operation would take place between 2010 and 2011, and that it would be launched in 2011 to rid North Waziristan of extremists once and for all. He was very reluctant when it came to the North Waziristan operation. Kayani thought the decision to launch the operation would reflect on his personality and people would take it as his personal decision, which is why he kept delaying the operation”
We as a nation have had to pay a heavy price for this “indecisiveness” of Gen. Kayani who ruled the roost as head of ISI and then Chief of Army Staff for an unprecedented six years. His time was the one in which Pakistan bled. Starting from the nonsense of Lal Masjid to the ridiculous Lawyers Movement in 2007, Pakistan was submerged in a pool of blood during his tenure. Targeting Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, the militants against whom Gen. Kayani didn’t take action through a comprehensive military action, Pakistan lost thousands of men and women to merry killers.
On the other hand, Gen. Kayani supported people like Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Gen. Shuja Pasha and the mindless media circus to bring the PPP led coalition down on one pretext or the other. Be it corruption stories or Memogate or Drones or Raymond Davis saga or actual killings of leadership of the coalition of PPP, ANP and MQM, one can now link Gen. Kayani in no uncertain terms to all the ills Pakistan has faced post 2007. Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas is now being asked by mindless Chaudhry Nisar and members of the media by saying “Senior retired army officers should be very careful while making statements regarding the current sensitive situation prevailing in the country. At this stage of history, bringing into open decisions of the current or former leadership of the military in this way may create difficulties but cannot be helpful in providing a solution”. It is quite certain that what Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas has said is pricking everyone who have benefited most from the mayhem caused by Gen. Kayani and his indecisiveness. While Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas has been very decent in calling just indecision, one can see through the method to madness of Gen. Kayani and his cohorts in the military, media and judiciary. The need to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission asked first by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in 1997, cannot be lesser in this critical time. The military generals and their mindless policies in collusion with their foot soldiers in political, religious, judiciary and media have brought a nation of 200 million people on its knees. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission must ascertain what went wrong and who were responsible for their actions. Demanding people to be hanged for their sins is a wishful thinking whose only targets can be politicians and especially the PPP. The nation needs to know who is responsible. Thank you Athar Abbas. You have done a service to this country. - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/316386#sthash.RzvkIpwF.dpuf
At dawn on Sunday, June 15 the Pakistan government gave the green signal to over 30,000 ground troops, backed by air force jets, to move into action in North Waziristan. This is the beginning of a long talked about and expected military operation against the many and numerous Islamic terrorist outfits that have been wreaking havoc throughout the country for almost two decades. The terrorist attack at the Karachi Airport in the preceding week seems to have been the final straw.
However, irrespective of various spins and gloss from Sharif and his coteries, it was the “generals” who decided that “enough is enough”. The reasons for the top brass to ultimately break the stalemate are many. Perhaps the most forceful and compelling reason was the pressure building up within the ranks of the military due to the increasing number of causalities, the increasingly eroding military credibility in society, the immoral and ill-gotten wealth of the top brass and the elite giving rise to unprecedented inequality and the fallout from the shooting of a controversial TV anchor near the Karachi airport. According to a military spokesperson, 167 individuals including the Uzbek mastermind Abu Abdul Rehman al-Maani, believed to have helped orchestrate the five-hour Karachi airport siege, was thought to be among the dead along with many Uzbek and other foreign and local commanders. There is now a mass exodus of the civilians coming out of the North Waziristan agency, the vast majority of whom are heading towards an already war torn Afghanistan. The political establishment across the spectrum have come out in support with the PPP leading the loud chorus, closely followed up by the religious right, including the proscribed Islamic groups, who came out with their guns blazing and calling on the military’s might to eliminate terrorism. Imran Khan’s PTI looked quite awkward when its “core committee” announced their support for this operation. After the judiciary’s restoration movement in 2007 this is yet another occasion when the conservatives, liberals, the secularists and the Islamists and the so-called left and the extreme right wing have shown an astonishing solidarity for the sake of their country. These air-conditioned politicos mistakenly think the military operation will surgically wipe out the terrorist networks. This shows the level of their understanding of the crisis this country is afflicted with and the catastrophic socio-economic situation society is mired in. Despite all the mantra about the first ever hand over of civilian regime and the deepening of democracy, the presence of the army is now more visible and glaring in all cities and towns of Pakistan than even during the periods of martial law. As soon as the operation started, the scenes in the country were reminiscent of the declarations and impositions of martial laws in the past. Military vehicles and APC’s are patrolling all the major cities and towns with numerous checkpoints making day to day movements for ordinary people a cumbersome affair. The media moguls have given instructions for patriotic and nationalist songs to be broadcast with many anchors vociferously beating the drums of chauvinistic sentiment as if the country had gone to war. The present rulers are terrified despite their massive security apparatus. Their cowardice is perhaps best expressed by the “Lions of Punjab” [a mocking reference to the Sharif brothers], with the Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif personally visiting and pleading the Lahore garrison Corps Commander to provide him military protection in his palatial mansions at Model Town in Lahore [a plush residential suburb for the rich]. His police force of 196,000 personnel which has terrorised the ordinary working population of the province seems inadequate to him. Islamabad’s security, where the elder brother is the third time prime minister has already been handed over to the military. This is not the first time the Pakistani military have announced such an operation. There have been several in this region alone. Most were aborted for reasons known only to the ruling elites. The military operation in Baluchistan has inflicted horrendous brutalities both by the state and non-state actors. The Shia and Sunni proxies, supported by the Iranian and Saudi oligarchies for their own imperialist designs, are shedding Pakistani blood. But it is mainly the Hazara Shias that are the victims of this brutality, mercilessly butchered by the Islamic sectarian beasts. The state has not only failed to guarantee protection, but according to some is encouraging this horrid carnage. The situation in Karachi is far worse with numerous military and paramilitary operations over the years. The military operations are everywhere in one form or another, but in the recent period they have become more frequent and bloody for the military, with ever increasing pressures and tensions within the state. The military has fought three disastrous wars, imposed four dictatorships and directly ruled the country for more than 50% of the country’s rather short but extremely chequered history. The only think they have achieved is greater suffering and an intensified crisis in society. However, if the military have proved to be a disappointment for the rulers of this country, their “democracies” have been even bigger failures. North Waziristan is rightly described as the centre of gravity of terrorist activity. Groups like Gul Bahadur, the Haqqani network (“good” Taliban), the so-called TTP, East Turkmenistan Islamic movement led by the Uzbeks, remnants of Al-Qaida and Al-Arab terrorists (“bad” Taliban) are running bloody havoc. The relations of these groups with the army, the US and other regional and imperialist powers have been dodgy and deceitful, with changing loyalties and affiliations. Their main sources of revenues are extortion, drug running, kidnapping and ransom, and other criminal activities. It is fear that guarantees their booty and hence they are all competing with the state and with each other to see who can carry out more heinous, cruel and inhuman acts of terror. It is precisely because of this that the multinational companies, and imperialist and regional states, make deals and contracts with them to the advantage of their own financial and strategic policies and interests. Hence their connections with certain sections of the state, that has now vowed to obliterate them, are not so concealed anymore. This operation will not be a straightforward military campaign, as it is difficult to differentiate between friend and foe. After all, this has been the dilemma of the “good” and the “bad” Taliban that has been haunting and convulsing the establishment for decades now. It will be a long and a protracted and internecine war that has very remote chances of reaching any clear and decisive solution or conclusion. And if this operation fails what will happen then? The political elite are so removed from reality that they can’t even dare to think about it. These billionaires and upstarts are not the ones who are suffering. It is the workers and the poor who are the victims of this fundamentalist onslaught and also of the economic terrorism being inflicted upon them by the system and the ruling classes through their state apparatus. When these toiling masses rise in class war they will have no other option but to do away with this whole edifice of plunder, tyranny, exploitation and terrorism. To accomplish this they will have to carry out a revolutionary insurrection to remove the whole system.
Militant threats of retaliation for the Pakistani offensive in North Waziristan are proving to be nothing more than words.
The continued pounding in North Waziristan has given the militants little time to organise and carry out reprisals, Mehran Wazir, a native of Waziristan and a research analyst at the Islamabad-based think tank FATA Research Centre (FRC), said. "The government is all-out serious on finishing the job" of eliminating the militants in this operation, Wazir said. The offensive caught militants off guard, allowing the military to kill more than 340 militants and to destroy the insurgents' command-and-control centres, observers told Central Asia Online. Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan is not the only government action against the militants, but it is a focal point because the agency is seen as the nerve centre of the militants, Peshawar-based senior journalist Muhammad Riaz said. "The majority of the militants gather in North Waziristan, as it is the headquarters for local and foreign militant groups," he said. Concern over potential retaliation The action, as expected, has raised the hackles of the militants, and they have made dire threats, but so far they have been all bluster. "Nawaz Sharif's government … is responsible for the loss of life and property of tribal Muslims in this military operation," Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told Central Asia Online by email June 23, vowing to burn down Islamabad and Lahore. The government has not taken the TTP's threats lightly. In response to such messages, officials took extra security measures, calling on troops to patrol big-city streets, Riaz said. What has helped dampen such talk is that the government took pre-emptive security measures before the military operation hit high gear, some surmise. "Before the operation was launched, there were reports of [civilian authorities] handing over Islamabad and other big cities to the military," Islamabad-based journalist, Anwar Ali Bangash said. The government, he said, carried out intelligence-based search operations and arrested a large number of suspected militants in Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore before Operation Zarb-e-Azb started June 15. Status of sleeper cells Operation Zarb-e-Azb surprised many observers who considered Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif loath to risk militant backlash from such an offensive, military analyst Brig. Said Nazeer said. Indeed, he suspects the militants will strike back later. "I believe [militants] are in waiting. The moment the government relaxes, they will strike," Nazeer said. "Sleeper cells are there, waiting for an opportune moment." But Bangash said it was unlikely that militants would be able to launch a heavy blow. No relaxation on offensive Meanwhile, with militants scrambling, the government is committed to taking full advantage. Besides bombing terrorists in the valleys of Waziristan, government forces are chasing them down in the streets of major cities, such as Karachi, where security operations have broken the backs of the militants, Ismail Mehsud, a Karachi-based political worker, said. "After the attack on the Karachi airport, the government has turned its whole attention to militants and has shown no mercy," Mehsud said.
INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES CLAIM AT LEAST A DOZEN TERRORISTS HAVE ENTERED THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TO STAGE ATTACKS ON GOVERNMENT INSTALLATIONS. At least 12 suspected terrorists have entered Islamabad with an intent to stage attacks on sensitive installations, according to a senior intelligence officer. “Intelligence agencies have submitted reports to the Interior Ministry, informing it that 12 terrorists, between 20 and 30 years old, have entered the federal capital and are hidden somewhere in the suburbs of the Tarnol area,” he said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media. “We have informed the government that they [terrorists] could stage suicide attacks in Islamabad or Rawalpindi to target sensitive government installations,” he added. According to the official, the threat of retaliation from the Taliban would persist as long as the military offensive against the militants’ hideouts in North Waziristan continued. “With the military operation already in progress against Pakistani and foreign militants in North Waziristan,” he said, “there will always be a fear of strong retaliation from the terrorists.” On June 15, the day the government launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan to clear the country’s tribal areas of militants, two companies of the Pakistan Army were deployed to Islamabad for extra security. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had earlier warned the government that its militants would “burn” Islamabad and Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, in retaliation for the PMLN-led government’s decision to opt for the military operation.
On her first trip to Africa, education activist and Malala Fund co-founder Malala Yousafzai said she was inspired by the dreams and determination of the schoolgirls she met while learning about the many challenges they have overcome to obtain an education.
The 16-year-old spent several days speaking with girls from rural Kenyan communities about their passionate desire to go to school and the many obstacles they encounter, including discrimination, poverty, child labor and early marriage.
Malala said the moving stories the girls shared with her will strengthen her work as an education advocate. Malala visited Kenya recently on behalf of the Malala Fund, a foundation that empowers girls through education. "I came to Africa to raise awareness about the 58 million children not in primary school who face numerous barriers to education," Malala said. "I was particularly inspired to meet young girls in Kenya who are so passionate about getting an education, building their future and the future of their country." Malala was hosted by Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children, a global organization of children engaged in service and development programs. Free The Children's young supporters have raised funds to build more than 650 schools and schoolrooms throughout the developing world, while the organization works to topple the barriers to education. On her visit, Malala also took up a shovel, mixed cement and laid bricks to help build Free The Children's Oleleshwa All-Girls' Secondary School, in rural South Narok, where the majority of girls do not attend high school. Malala was also accompanied by her father, who is the Malala Fund's chairman, along with its CEO, Shiza Shahid, who called on other school children to stand up for the rights of their peers. The Malala Fund also financially contributed to the building of Oleleshwa All-Girls' Secondary School, its first gift to Africa, because of Free The Children's sustainable approach to education and because of a common bond with young people from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada who support Free The Children. "We feel honoured to have laid the foundation of the first school that the Malala Fund is building in Africa with Free the Children," said Shahid. "This is the beginning of a deep commitment to Africa, and a testament to our belief that educating the children of the world holds the key to spurring progress and countering violence." Free The Children is currently building Oleleshwa All-Girls' Secondary School, a boarding school which now accommodates 60 students but when complete will educate and board two hundred. These new students will join the 4,780 girls already enrolled in Free The Children primary and secondary schools across Kenya. Free The Children's innovative holistic development model, Adopt a Village, eliminates all barriers to education by providing schools, clean water projects, support for health care, agriculture and food security, and local small businesses, many run by women. "We are so grateful to work together to build a school," said Kielburger. "After the horrific kidnapping of the Nigerian girls, we are inspired by Malala's compassion and leadership in ensuring education for girls on the African continent." While in Kenya, Malala spoke to a community gathering about the importance of educating girls and preventing early childhood marriage. When she finished speaking, the local children, in traditional Maasai dress, leapt to their feet and chanted "Malala" over and over. Finally, the community presented her with a goat, a sign of great respect in Maasai culture, in honor of her fight for girls' education. Malala's visit with Free The Children followed her participation in the organization's youth empowerment event We Day UK, when she addressed 12,000 people at London's Wembley Arena along with Prince Harry, Sir Richard Branson and Jennifer Hudson. Click here to watch Malala's speech at We Day UK and visit www.weday.com for more information on the event. For more information, please visit www.Malalafund.org or www.freethechildren.com. Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2032900#ixzz36PPll2oK
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has directed all health department officials to make sure that every child entering Sindh from Waziristan is administered polio drops. Presiding over a meeting on the anti-polio strategy, Shah asked the officials to establish polio control rooms in each district. He also wants all IDPs to be registered by the district administration at the border, along with data on the number of children and family statuses. “There is a dire need to set up a provincial emergency operation centres for polio eradication and make it functional as soon as possible,” said the chief minister. “The police and law enforcement agencies must provide full security to the polio teams while they are in the field.” The officials must conduct an extensive anti-polio campaign, especially in the vulnerable areas of Karachi, to avoid any further spread of crippling disease of Polio in the city and province, Shah added. The officials informed the CM that strict checking has been ordered at all the entry points of the borders and cities in the province to ensure that neither the children of actual IDPs nor any others can pass without taking the polio drops. Shah feared that several displaced persons and families are moving from North Waziristan as the armed forces carry out Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Most of the children accompanying these families have never been vaccinated and they are posing a threat. Seven cases this year The coordinator of polio oversight committee, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, told the participants of the meeting that seven polio cases have emerged so far this year. All these cases were reported from Karachi and the victims belong to Pakhtun families, except for one child who belongs to a Punjabi family. The union councils from where these cases have emerged are on the top of the priority list and special attention is being paid to such vulnerable areas, she added. “In addition to the deployment of 28 anti-polio teams on the Sindh-Punjab and Sindh-Balochistan borders, more than 166 teams are working at all the transits points of the cities, airports, railway stations, and toll plazas to administer polio drops to each child up to five years old,” she explained. The provincial focal person for polio, Dr Ahmed Ali Shaikh, told the participants of the meeting that two anti-polio campaigns will be conducted in Karachi; the first one from July 5 to July 8 and the second one from July 17 to July 20. As many as 153,564 children will be vaccinated in each round. A total of 194 anti-polio teams have been deployed at all the transit points in the province including the borders of Sindh, said Dr Shaikh. Between April 2012 and April 2014, as many as 5,828,520 children have been vaccinated at all transit points in Sindh and 264,129 children have been vaccinated at the transit points in Karachi.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has extended congratulations to the newly-nominated Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Nasir-ul-Muluk adding nation has high expectations from him for institutional strengthening judiciary and democracy in the country. In a message, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said history is going to be ruthless in recording the jurisprudence in the world and our judiciary needs true reforms that manifest justice system, which is free from both overt and covert personal or political bias. PPP Patron-In-Chief welcomed the appointment of Justice Nasir-ul-Muluk as Chief Justice of Pakistan and assured that his Party and its leadership will always stand for a free and independent judiciary as it has always strived for it despite having been wounded in the past by some of the most biased judges in the history of Pakistan. “We stand for an independent judiciary as it is the basic requirement of any democratic system to flourish,” he added.
The country is fighting what the ISPR has described as a war of survival. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the biggest and most well-coordinated operation ever conducted against terrorists, is in full swing. The PML-N claims the prime minister is leading from the front. The PM says he has pledged to wipe out all foreign fighters and local terrorists without exception. Federal ministers for information and defence too are busy rousing the masses to support the army operation. What is missing from the scene is the interior minister who is required to play the most vital role in complementing the military action. It is widely known that Ch Nisar considered talks with the Taliban the only way to bring terrorism to an end. The gradual change in the government’s policy towards TTP which has now culminated into full support for military operation was presumably unacceptable to him. Weeks back he stopped attending the National Assembly sittings and was absent from both the Senate and NA when the PPO was presented for ratification. On June 10 he attended a high level meeting with PM, COAS, CGS and chief of ISI’s counterintelligence desk. Days later, fighter jets attacked North Waziristan killing 50 terrorists, including the mastermind of Karachi airport attack. The same night Ch Nisar was taken to hospital for chest pain. Ch Nisar’s performance as interior minister was hopeless. His biggest failure was to carry out the much needed revamping of the security system. The militants are presently on the run and their activities have drastically decreased. A number of TTP groups currently enjoying Karzai’s hospitality are however looking for an opportunity to retaliate in major cities. Whether Ch Nisar has withdrawn due to ailment or on account of ideological differences, there is an urgent need for finding a replacement. The government needs to appoint a new interior minister who is energetic, in sync with the times and capable of finishing the work left undone by Ch Nisar.
The ground operation phase of Zarb-e-Azb continues successfully as the forces advances after crushing militant hideouts. More check posts have been established near Miranshah bazaar, Dunya News reported. Pakistan Army is continuing to advance in the military operation against terrorists. Reportedly, the ground operation is achieving more than anticipated results. Forces have tightened the surrounding of the terrorists’ hideouts on various points. Pakistan Army continues to destroy the militant hideouts. The aerial surveillance of the affected areas is also being carried out. It merits mentioning here that the armed forces successfully seized landmine manufacturing factories in the region on Wednesday. According to ISPR, during the operation, three more improvised explosive device manufacturing factories with large quantity of explosives, anti-tank mines, a suicide bomber training centre, a media facility and a rocket cache were recovered from cleared. Six IEDs attached with four computers in a ready position were also recovered from a private hotel. Earlier, Military helicopters shelled militant hideouts in the country’s restive northwest on Wednesday as part of a massive ongoing offensive against the Taliban and other extremists, killing 10 insurgents, officials said. The helicopters pounded Islamist compounds in the Khar Warsak area, 12 kilometres (seven miles) north of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region. "The helicopters destroyed three militant compounds and killed 10 insurgents during the shelling," a local security official told AFP. A local intelligence official confirmed the attack and militant casualties. Nearly 500,000 people have fled the offensive in North Waziristan, which is aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of families have left for the town of Bannu, close to North Waziristan, while hundreds more have moved further afield to the towns of Lakki Marwat, Karak and Dera Ismail Khan since the offensive began in mid-June. Jets and artillery began hitting militant targets in North Waziristan on June 15, launching an operation to regain full control of the district after years of pressure from Washington and other powers. The assault was finally launched after a dramatic attack on Karachi airport last month which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban. So far, 376 militants and 19 soldiers have been killed in the offensive, according to the military, though with the area off-limits to journalists the number and identity of the dead is impossible to verify. Major General Asim Bajwa, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, said on Tuesday the ongoing offensive would target all militants, including the feared Haqqani network. He also demanded Afghanistan do more to track down hardline cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who took over the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership last year after previous chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a US drone. Fazlullah is believed to be in hiding across the border. Relief for IDPs: The government established three more registration centers at various points in Bannu on Thursday in order to facilitate the smooth registration of the IDPs arriving from the war zone. Reportedly, thousands are yet to receive government’s aid in terms of food and shelter.
The North Waziristan tribal agency in northwestern Pakistan has been the focus of a lot of firepower: The C.I.A. has made it ground zero for its drone strike campaign, the Pakistani military has sporadically unleashed raids and barrages there, and now it has been stormed by Pakistani infantry forces trying to clear out entrenched militant groups.
But long before Al Qaeda and the Taliban found shelter in the forbidding mountains of the tribal region, Waziristan was a wellspring of guerrilla insurgency and resistance to whatever power had tried to bring it in line. The Pashtun tribes of Waziristan have never been truly conquered, and courting them as allies has almost always ended up backfiring on whoever has tried — ask the British, Pakistanis, Afghans and, for that matter, the Americans.
From the mid-19th century until their departure in 1947, British forces fought Pashtun rebels in Waziristan at huge losses of life to both sides. Then, as now, the tribesmen knew the mountains and treacherous pathways better, and were never completely jarred loose, even by the 20th-century dawn of airstrikes, delivered by British biplanes.
In the strategic maneuvering of “The Great Game,” the British imposed the Durand Line border with Afghanistan in 1893, and in the process divided the Pashtun population. To this day, that border is an irritant to governments and a fiction to inhabitants. In the decades after, Pashtun fighters waged a new jihad that spanned governments: first against the declining British Empire, then against the Pakistani government founded in the partition of 1947. One of their goals was an autonomous Pashtunistan, spanning the Durand Line, and at times they were aided covertly by the Afghan government. Even as the fledgling Pakistani government fought the Pashtuns, they also sought to employ them, paying tribal fighters to deploy against India. That effort reached new heights in the 1980s, after the Soviet invasion next door in Afghanistan.
Suddenly, Pashtun jihadis were the allies of choice for Pakistani, Saudi and American officials who were trying to bloody the Soviets, and Waziristan — rugged, impregnable, close to the border — was the perfect training ground for them. Money and arms, and thousands of volunteers from the Arab world, flowed into North and South Waziristan under the watch of the Pakistani military spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, and with the blessing of the United States. The relationships and expertise forged in the fight against the Soviets became the foundation for new militant movements after the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, this time in the Taliban insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in the global terrorism campaign directed from the tribal areas by Al Qaeda against the United States and Western world. The Pakistani military struck a tenuous peace deal with the Waziristan-based factions a few years later, but as it fell apart, many of the army’s former allies among the militants turned against it and the Pakistani government. Crackdowns on the tribal areas intensified, and a military offensive in South Waziristan and other areas of the northwestern frontier was waged in 2009. The assault sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing, including militant commanders, who moved north to join their comrades in the even more rugged terrain of North Waziristan. Since then, drone strikes have cut into the militants’ leadership ranks. But for the most part, the militant groups sheltering in the mountains of North Waziristan were able to kill or force out resistant tribal leaders, share resources and grow stronger together for years. “There is no militant group in the world that you won’t find here,” one tribal leader said in a telephone interview. “From Uzbeks, to Chechen, to Chinese and Turkish militants, everyone is free in N.W.” Now, the Pakistani military has marched into Miram Shah and Mir Ali, the main towns in North Waziristan. Again, a huge wave of refugees has been created, with many crossing the gossamer border into Afghanistan, where the political process is struggling and the American military is withdrawing. With those refugees, many officials say, are again a number of militant commanders and fighters.
By Aman Shareef On June 15, the Pakistan Army began a military operation in North Waziristan to “eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour”. In the fortnight since operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ began, numerous airstrikes have been carried out, killing 370 militants as of June 30. At this stage of the operation, the Army is carrying out door-to-door searches in the town of Miranshah, in North Waziristan. This town has been one of the main bases of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Between airstrikes, American drone strikes and ground forces, Zarb-e-Azb is the most major operation against religious extremists the Pakistan Army has conducted in years! Analysts have speculated about the reason behind this sudden shift in policy. Some say that the Pakistan Army believes that it is critical to carry out this operation before the US withdraws at the end of 2014. Others argue that recent attacks have proven that the peace talks are a failure, and therefore the Army is finally taking action. Some have even said that the military leadership has wanted to carry out this operation for a while, and the civilian government is no longer able to rein them in. Although all these have some merit, the underlying reason for the shift in policy is the shift in public opinion. Since Nawaz Sharif’s government came to power last year, there have been attacks in Quetta, Peshawar and against military convoys in North Waziristan. The Taliban attacks on the Karachi International Airport on June 8 are altogether different from prior attacks because they actually succeeded in shifting public sentiment past an unknown tipping point in favor of the military taking action against these extremists. Moving in line with public opinion is not new for the Pakistani military, but many analysts have failed to grasp the extent to which the Army’s options for any given scenario only exist within the universe created by public opinion. The Pakistani Army does not see itself only as a tool to protect its nation, but as a governing institution that may have to step into the role of governance at any moment. Due to this understanding of its own responsibilities to the country, the Army must have the people on their side at all times. The military is aware that a successful coup, and the ability to continue ruling, is dependent on the approval of the public. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been under the rule of three different military governments. The first coup of General Ayub Khan in 1958 was met with general public approval, creating a precedent for the Pakistan military to take over whenever it felt it necessary. The later military coups of Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf were able to lean on this precedent when carrying out their own coups. In 2007, when the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) incident took place, President Musharraf was already unpopular with his firing of the Chief Justice. Since Musharraf was unpopular, the operation to root out the heavily armed extremists in the Red Mosque was seen as being questionable. I remember being in Pakistan at the time, and being a part of conversations where people were expressing their doubts as to the validity of the military’s actions. These extremists had practically turned a mosque in the middle of Islamabad into a fortress. The military had no other choice, and yet Musharraf’s unpopularity at the time made people question even this course action. Arguably, the Lal Masjid incident was the beginning of the end of Pervez Musharraf’s reign. The lesson Pakistan’s military took away from this incident is that military operations that are unpopular will lead to the downfall of its leaders, and hinder the Army’s ability to lead. In 2009, the Taliban took control of the entire Swat region and hundreds of thousands of people fled to escape the harsh rule of the extremist group. Yet, the Army did nothing of note for months. Then, a video of a young girl being brutally caned went viral, and the whole of Pakistan became outraged. It was this dramatic change in public sentiment that allowed the Pakistan Army to carry out a major operation to root out the Taliban in Swat. While military policy is not dictated by the sways of public opinion polls, the options available to them exist only in the realm of what the people of Pakistan will approve of. As a result, if the United States wants to influence the actions of the Pakistani military, they need to keep their thumb on the pulse of public sentiment in Pakistan. Similarly, if India and the rest of the world would like to predict and understand what actions the Pakistan Army will take, keeping an eye on public opinion will be a critical component of their analyses.