Tuesday, July 8, 2014
The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs raises alert level 3 in Afghanistan because of 'heightened tensions' after the presidential elections
The Philippine government urged its nationals in Afghanistan on Tuesday, July 8, to leave the Central Asian country as violence increased during the presidential elections. In a statement, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised voluntary repatriation by raising crisis alert level 3 in Afghanistan. The DFA cited “the heightened tensions in that country following the conduct of the presidential elections last June 14.” The DFA said: “Alert level 3 is declared when violent disturbances or external aggression occurs in a limited area of a country. With this announcement, Filipinos in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged to volunteer to return to the Philippines.” It added that the Philippine government “maintains a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Afghanistan.” The DFA “continues to monitor the political and security developments in Afghanistan,” it added. An estimated 4,000 Filipinos are now working for US contractors in Afghanistan, DFA spokesman Charles Jose told Agence France-Presse. The Philippines does not maintain an embassy in Kabul, with its diplomatic representation in that country under the Filipino mission in Pakistan, he added. Instability feared The DFA's warning came after former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani won Afghanistan's presidential election, according to preliminary results Monday, July 7. Ghani's poll rival, Abdullah Abdullah, rejected the outcome as “a coup against the will of the people.” Fraud allegations immediately sparked a dispute and stoked concerns of instability after the figures showed Ghani collected 56.4% of the run-off vote against ex-foreign minister Abdullah's 43.5%. Afghanistan's international backers have lobbied hard to try to ensure a smooth election process, but the contested outcome realized their worst fears and risks, setting back gains made since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The deadlock has already tipped Afghan politics into a crisis at the same time that the Taliban have underlined their strength with a major offensive in the southern province of Helmand. The insurgents, who see the election as a plot of the United States to control Kabul, threatened to target voters, and violence spiked on both polling days, but there was no major militant attack. Afghanistan has been battered by decades of conflict, and any power struggle would undermine claims that the hugely costly US-led military and civilian mission has helped to establish a functioning state.
Kamran Khan, host of Geo News programme ‘Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Sath’, said on the programme on Monday that the prestige of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is at the lowest ebb. The number of terrorist incidents in the country has decreased because of the massive action against the terrorists. Arsalan Iftikhar’s allegation can have serious repercussions on Imran Khan’s future. Kamran Khan, while commenting on Arsalan Iftikhar’s allegations against Imran Khan, said that the allegation against the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan, has been an old one, but it has once again been levelled forcefully. The allegation is that Imran Khan is the father of a 20-year-old young woman who lives in the USA, and that she was born out of wedlock; that Imran Khan has confessed to being her father, and that a US court has also given its verdict in this regard. Kamran Khan said that this time round, the allegation has been levelled by Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Imran Khan’s latest target, former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Kamran Khan said that this is a very serious charge which, if proved, can have some very adverse effects on the future of Imran Khan and the PTI. Arsalan Iftikhar has filed an application with the Election Commission of Pakistan asking the ECP to provide him with a copy of Imran Khan’s nomination papers on the basis of which he (Arsalan Iftikhar) wants to file a reference under Article 62/63 of the Constitution in which he would take the plea that Imran Khan had mentioned the names of his two sons in the nomination papers, but he did not give the name of, what Arsalan Iftikhar alleges to be, “his daughter who was born out of wedlock”. Therefore, Imran Khan’s membership of the Parliament be suspended and action taken against him. In a different segment of the programme, Kamran Khan said that what happened in the last 30 days — from the Karachi airport attack to the political hibernation of federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and to his having been persuaded to come out of his hibernation and into the mainstream — has dealt the government’s reputation with a severe blow. In order to save Pakistan from the terrorists a decisive action is underway, and the Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, is visiting the frontline. Kamran Khan said that nobody can doubt the fact that the future of the country rests on the Pakistan Army’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists. The Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, is visiting the frontline where the war for Pakistan’s survival is being fought. This is a very important visit of General Raheel Sharif.He met the officers and Jawans and gave them a pat on the back for a job well done and told them that their next step is to completely destroy all the centres of terrorism in and around North Waziristan. Kamran Khan said that as a result of the massive operation against terrorism, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of terrorist incidents inside Pakistan. In a still different segment of the programme, Kamran Khan said that the events of the last one month have badly tarnished the image of the leadership of the PML-N and that of the government as well. Serious differences among the stalwarts of the ruling party have come to light. The media spotlight in this regard has been on the very important leader of the PML-N, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, about whom media reports have been saying for the last three weeks that he had chosen to isolate himself due to his differences with some fellow cabinet members. Ch Nisar remained absent from Parliament for some time. However, Ch Nisar had a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday, and on Monday he issued a written statement in which he denied the news about differences, but he did say a few words about those one or two ministers who had a grudge against him. Kamran Khan said that the writ of the government was affected and especially on June 20 when Pemra decided that it was revoking the ban on Geo News and at the same time it also decided to impose a ban on ARY News, but despite the Pemra decision ARY News transmission continued uninterrupted throughout and even the cable operators turned a deaf ear to the Pemra decision, but, ironically, Geo News and other channels of Geo Network remained shut contrary to Pemra decision. This example clearly shows that the government is losing its writ. Government ministers did not have the courage to get Pemra orders implemented. Geo News remained off air despite government orders to restore its transmission while the channel that was supposed to be off air remained on in contravention of government orders. Kamran Khan said that the Lahore Model Town incident was a major incident that substantially damaged government’s reputation. The way the police attempted to remove barriers from outside the house of Tahir-ul-Qadri upon his return to the country and the killing of ten people there severely damaged the reputation of the government.
After months of tension caused by cyber security and maritime disputes, an annual meeting between senior Chinese and US officials, which starts Wednesday in Beijing, is hoped to put the brake on a downward spiral in Sino-US relations. The sixth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), which aims to address problems between the world's two largest economies, will be held until Thursday. Among the issues the two sides are expected to discuss are the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the valuation of the Chinese yuan, and an ongoing deadlock in negotiations over updates to a 16 year-old World Trade Organization Information Technology Agreement. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State John Kerry will co-chair the strategic track of the dialogue, while China's Vice Premier Wang Yang and US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will jointly head the economic track. This year's S&ED comes at a critical time, as the Washington Post noted that "the US-China relationship is facing its stiffest test since then US president Richard Nixon traveled to Mao Zedong's China in 1972." Washington has sided with Tokyo, which is locked in a territorial dispute with Beijing in the East China Sea, by sending fighter jets to an Air Defense Identification Zone set up by China and voicing explicit support for Japan during Obama's East Asia visit. In May, the US indictment of five Chinese military officers over so-called cyber espionage further irked China, which halted a China-US cyber security working group due to meet under the framework of the S&ED. Even before the S&ED formally starts, the two sides have already traded blame. On Monday, China's Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told a press briefing that the US "has made some wrong remarks and acts on maritime issues and cyber issues, bringing negative impact on bilateral relations." Zheng also dismissed the charges against the five Chinese officers as "intentionally fabricated by the US." A US official, who briefed reporters en route to Beijing, said Tuesday China's claim to the South China Sea is "problematic," and the tensions are "very relevant to the United States as a Pacific power," reported AFP. Yuan Zheng, a research fellow with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, partly agreed that bilateral ties are at a low ebb. "While it seems the threat of a confrontation looms, past experiences in China-US relations proved that whenever a confrontation is about to break out, the two leaderships will pull back from hostility," Yuan told the Global Times on Tuesday. Da Wei, director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, cited the "strategic interdependency" between China and the US, saying that neither country can afford mutual destruction to their economy or security. Some people have said a clash between China and the US is inevitable due to the structural problems between an established power and a rising power. China holds the view that Washington's Asia pivot aims to constrain its development, while the US suspects that China wants to push it out of the region. "No one can deny the existence of structural problems, but if we let the structural problems dominate bilateral ties, there will be a lose-lose situation," said Yuan. "Both countries realized the problem, so they decided to build a new type of great power relations, which stresses no confrontation or conflict." "In the past seven months, bilateral ties went through a downward spiral, but I don't think the bottom has fallen out of the structure," he said. A similar view was also voiced by the US side on Tuesday. "The US-China relationship is a motion picture. It shouldn't be looked at as a snapshot," a second US official traveling with Kerry was quoted as saying by Reuters. "It is that grand epic big Hollywood motion picture in which there are a lot of actors and a lot of interests at stake, and the trajectory of any particular issue takes time to play out." The current round of the S&ED will provide a platform for candid and even blunt exchanges between the two sides. The economic track, which might see progress on the Bilateral Investment Treaty, is expected to help stabilize the relationship. "What really matters isn't the agreement list delivered after the S&ED. It is the positive momentum injected into bilateral ties by the dialogue following the negative trajectory of the past months," Da said. Yuan shared similar sentiments, noting Washington has already started pulling back. "Both sides will use the S&ED and Barack Obama's visit to Beijing in November to create a favorable atmosphere for warming ties." Prior to the start of the S&ED, the fourth China-US Strategic Security Dialogue was held in Beijing on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the S&ED events and deliver a speech. Xi and Premier Li Keqiang will meet the US delegations.
President Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to quickly provide almost $4 billion to confront a surge of young migrants from Central America crossing the border into Texas, calling it “an urgent humanitarian situation.” But the request immediately became entangled in the fierce political debate over immigration: Republicans said they were wary of Mr. Obama’s request and could not immediately support it, given what they called his administration’s failure to secure the Mexican border after years of illegal crossings. Mr. Obama could face resistance from members of his own party as well.
The president said he needed the money to set up new detention facilities, conduct more aerial surveillance and hire immigration judges and Border Patrol agents to respond to the flood of 52,000 children. Their sudden mass migration has overwhelmed local resources and touched off protests from residents angry about the impact on the local economy. In a letter to congressional leaders, Mr. Obama urged them to “act expeditiously” on his request.
Republican lawmakers who have long demanded tougher enforcement of immigration laws along the border expressed cautious support on Tuesday for beefing up the federal presence in the Rio Grande Valley, where most of the children have been crossing into the United States. But many Republicans, especially in the House, remain deeply suspicious of the president’s commitment, a mistrust that led to a stalemate on a broader immigration overhaul and now threatens to at least delay speedy passage of Mr. Obama’s $3.7 billion spending request. “Let’s remember, this administration went around for years saying the border has never been more secure than it is now,” said Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016. “I think that’s been exposed as a fallacy over the last three weeks.” Speaker John A. Boehner said the president’s plan failed to deploy the National Guard, an idea the White House said would not be effective. And Representative John Carter of Texas said he was wary of any measure that gave Mr. Obama too much autonomy. “The president caused this self-inflicted crisis on the border by refusing to enforce the law,” said Mr. Carter, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, which is likely to be asked to approve the request. “And now he is requesting a $3.7 billion bailout from the taxpayers to rectify his mistakes.” Some Democrats, like Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, have expressed strong misgivings about any plan that would allow for unaccompanied children to be sent back home to dangerous situations. The charged politics will shadow a long-planned trip that Mr. Obama began on Tuesday and will include a two-day stop in Texas. The trip will underscore the difficulties for the White House on immigration. The president is calling for immediate action on the border even as he remains under pressure by activists to relax deportations.
After insisting that Mr. Obama had no plans to visit the Texas-Mexico border, White House officials said he would meet with Gov. Rick Perry. Mr. Perry, who is considering a second run for the Republican presidential nomination, had declined to participate in a photo opportunity with Mr. Obama in front of Air Force One, prompting a last-minute offer by the White House for the two to meet. A Perry spokesman said they would meet privately and attend a round-table discussion with religious leaders and local officials.
The president’s funding request is certain to revive legislative passions that prompted Mr. Obama to promise sweeping executive actions to get around Republican opposition to a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. Republicans in both chambers hinted Tuesday that they might insist on corresponding spending cuts or make other demands that Mr. Obama and his allies are likely to oppose. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said that Mr. Obama’s request lacked the substantive policy changes needed to deal with issues like detaining those who cross the border illegally and ensuring that they show up for court dates once they are apprehended. “Apparently the president has given up on any effort to effect the kind of reforms that he knows and his administration knows are necessary,” Mr. Cornyn said.
White House officials said the president was not backing away from a request last week for more flexibility in how enforcement agents treat the Central American migrants who are surging across the border. A 2008 law aimed at combating human trafficking requires officials to provide extra legal protections for migrants from countries that do not share a border with the United States. Those protections are not provided to Mexicans, who are often quickly returned home after being caught trying to enter the United States illegally. White House officials said they would like Congress to allow officials to process migrants from places like Honduras and Guatemala as quickly as Mexicans. One White House official said the administration was seeking to have “one approach to children coming from the region.” Officials pressed members of Congress on Tuesday to consider the funding request separately from the changes in legal authority. But some lawmakers suggested that they wanted to deal with both issues together. The resulting clash could end up as a replay of the gridlock that prevented the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 from being considered in the House. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said that Congress needed to repeal the 2008 human trafficking law. “The message has to be, ‘If you cross our border illegally, you will be returned immediately,’ ” he said. Others have called for an even more aggressive deportation plan than the president’s
Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said the Department of Health and Human Services, which takes in many of the unaccompanied children, needed to be cut out of the process so that law enforcement officials could ship them home more quickly. Mr. Cornyn said Congress should look at allowing the United States armed forces to stop drug and human trafficking. An email to supporters from Heritage Action for America, a political action committee, signaled the kind of difficulty that Mr. Obama’s request might face from Tea Party conservatives. The group called it “a nonstarter because it seeks to address the symptoms, not the cause.”
India continues to battle poverty, child and maternal deaths, according to a United Nations report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that said while several key global targets have been met, more sustained effort is needed to cover disparities by the 2015 deadline. The ‘Millennium Development Goals Report 2014’, launched by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here on Monday, said many global MDG targets on reducing poverty, increasing access to improved drinking water sources, improving the lives of slum dwellers and achieving gender parity in primary schools have already been met. Many more goals are within reach by their 2015 target date, the report said, adding that if current trends continue, the world will surpass MDG targets on malaria, tuberculosis and access to HIV treatment. The report is the most up-to-date “global scorecard” on efforts to achieve the eight mostly anti-poverty goals agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000. It, however, said that some MDG targets related to largely preventable problems with available solutions, such as reducing child and maternal mortality and increasing access to sanitation, are slipping away from achievement by 2015, despite major progress. “We know that achievements have been uneven between goals, among and within regions and countries, and between population groups,” Mr. Ban said, adding that unless imbalances are addressed through bolder and more focused interventions, some targets will not be met, including in key areas such as childbirth, maternal mortality, universal education, and environmental sustainability. The overwhelming majority of people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day belong to Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with one third of the world’s 1.2 billion extreme poor living in India alone in 2010. India also had the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children dying before reaching their fifth birthday. While Southern Asia has made “strong and steady” progress in reducing child deaths by more than halving its under-five mortality rate, yet nearly one in every three deaths still takes place in the region. Despite progress in all world regions, the maternal mortality ratio in developing regions - 230 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births in 2013 — was 14 times higher than that of developed regions, which recorded only 16 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births in 2013. Highlighting the extreme differences in maternal mortality among countries, the report said that almost one-third of all global maternal deaths are concentrated in the two populous countries — India and Nigeria. India has an estimated 50,000 maternal deaths (17 per cent) while Nigeria has an estimated 40,000 maternal deaths (14 per cent). The report further stated that despite a large increase in sanitation coverage, with an additional two billion people gaining access to an improved sanitation facility, it seems unlikely that the MDG target of 75 per cent coverage will be met by 2015. “In 2012, a billion people still resorted to open defecation, a practice that needs to be brought to an end, as it poses a huge risk to communities that are often poor and vulnerable already,” the report added. “Open defecation is most prevalent in Southern Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority — 82 per cent — of people practicing open defecation now live in middle-income, populous countries, such as India and Nigeria,” it said, adding that nearly 60 per cent of the one billion people practicing open defecation live in India. With the 2015 deadline for achieving the landmark goals less that 550 days away, the report said many of MDGs have been met or are within reach. Among the targets that have been met is that the world has reduced extreme poverty by half. In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than 1.25 dollars a day. This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million. Efforts in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis have shown results with an estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria being averted between 2000 and 2012 due to the substantial expansion of malaria interventions. The intensive efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives worldwide since 1995. “If the trends continue, the world will reach the MDG targets on malaria and tuberculosis,” it said. Access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people and the target of halving the proportion of people without access to an improved drinking water source was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of schedule. In 2012, 89 per cent of the world’s population had access to an improved source, up from 76 per cent in 1990. Hunger also continues to decline, but immediate additional efforts are needed to reach the MDG target, the report said. The proportion of undernourished people in developing regions decreased from 24 per cent in 1990-1992 to 14 per cent in 2011-2013. However, progress has slowed down in the past decade. “Meeting the target of halving the percentage of people suffering from hunger by 2015 will require immediate additional effort, especially in countries which have made little headway, the report added. Launching the final push towards the United Nations targets, Mr. Ban appealed to member states that the global post-2015 objective must be to “leave no one behind”. Mr. Ban said the world is “at a historic juncture, with several milestones before us.” Citing gains made in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis and access to HIV treatment, Mr. Ban underscored that the report makes clear “the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform...and the combined action of Governments, the international community civil society and the private sector can make a difference.” “Our efforts to achieve the MDGs are critical to building a solid foundation for development beyond 2015. At the same time, we must aim for a strong successor framework to attend to unfinished business and address areas not covered by the eight MDGs,” said the U.N. chief.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Afghanistan's leaders on Tuesday they should learn from crisis-hit Iraq's failures and ensure an orderly transfer of power. "It's important that Afghanistan's leaders work together," Hague told reporters during a trip to New Delhi, hours after presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory in the disputed Afghan election despite preliminary results favouring his rival Ashraf Ghani. "We look to them to ensure there is an orderly, legitimate and constitutional transfer of power to a new president in Afghanistan," he said. The Afghan election stand-off has sparked concern that protests could spiral into ethnic violence at a time when Iraq has been struggling to form a new government amid a raging Sunni Islamist insurgency. "Iraq has suffered from the failure to have a sufficiently inclusive government in recent years," Hague said, referring to the political polarisation over a new government aimed at countering the militant onslaught in Iraq. "I hope Afghanistan will learn from that failure." Afghanistan faces a difficult transfer of power after President Hamid Karzai's 13-year rule ends and as 50,000 US-led troops wind down their battle against Taliban insurgents.
COAS General Raheel Sharif does not like terrorists. This seems clear from his consistent stance on terrorism, stretching back to his time as IG Training and Evaluation. Reportedly he played an important role in convincing other senior officers that assorted militants inside Pakistan are a greater threat than India. While he was patient with the government’s negotiations policy, since the go ahead was given he has relentlessly said that operation Zarb-e-Azb will target all terrorists irrespective of their affiliations to former ‘strategic assets’ such as the Haqqani network. On examination most statements by the military contain a clever loophole, that any terrorist who “takes up arms against Pakistan” will be targeted. However, on the face of it, the army is moving wholesale against terrorists of “all hues” and the COAS has forcefully pushed for complete eradication of all foreign and domestic terrorists. His statement to troops in Miranshah on Monday that the army will “chase and hunt down terrorists across the country” is a welcome development. If General Sharif’s statements are any indication, increasingly the sense in the security establishment is that the operation will only be successful once the terror infrastructure spread throughout the country is destroyed. This was an infrastructure established during the 1980s Afghan war, which was left in place because of its potential strategic value but that has turned into this country’s most significant existential threat. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif reiterated this point in an interview on Monday when he said that entering the Afghan war was “a mistake” and that the government has recognised and abandoned the policy of ‘good versus bad Taliban’. The question is whether the rest of the establishment recognises that the network of radicalisation does not stop with extremist terrorist groups but includes sectarian organisations engaged in homicide and hate-propaganda. Indeed groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and others may not be as vocal as the tribal area terrorists but it is clear they support the terrorist goals of a religiously homogenous state with control based on their perverted interpretation of Islamic law, and are willing to use violence to achieve that end. They have certainly cultivated links to the global jihadist movement inspired by al Qaeda, which terrorists in the tribal areas are fully a part of. It was recognition that our former ‘assets’ were now being controlled by ‘Jihadist global’ that forced the establishment to re-evaluate its ties with them. Violent sectarian movements in Pakistan will inevitably go down that road soon; it is built into their DNA. Their ‘loyalty’ to Pakistan is a matter of convenience and will be abandoned when opportunities for greater power present themselves. This infrastructure must be disabled and the army is the only institution in the country capable of doing the job. Whether this is General Sharif’s intent remains to be seen, his encouraging statements to that effect notwithstanding.
Germany inflicted a historic 7-1 rout on hosts Brazil on Tuesday to reach the World Cup final as Miroslav Klose became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the tournament. Brazil have never suffered such a big defeat in any international tournament and never put on such a shambolic defensive performance as during an 18 minute first half period when Germany scored four goals, three of them in just 179 seconds. Thomas Mueller scored in the 11th minute, Klose after 23 to take his World Cup total to 16, Toni Kroos in the 24th and 26th minutes, Sami Khedira after 29 and substitute Andre Schuerrle in the 69th and 79th minutes. Oscar scored Brazil's goal in the 90th minute.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the U.S. "We call on all Afghan leaders to maintain calm in order to preserve the gains of the last decade," he said. "There is no justifiable recourse to violence...or for resort to extra-constitutional measures or threats of the same." In a statement, the U.S. State Department Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki said a full investigation of fraud allegations was needed to ensure confidence in the final outcome. "A full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities is essential to ensure that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process and that the new Afghan president is broadly accepted inside and outside Afghanistan," it said. On Monday, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced preliminary results of the runoff presidential election Monday evening with Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai leading with 56.44 percent. Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah fell behind with 43.56 percent. Monday's results were made up of 100 percent of votes cast across the country. Head of IEC Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said the total number of voters announced this evening was eight million; exactly 8,109,403. Mr. Ahmadzai led the preliminary results with exactly 4,485,888 votes, with Mr. Abdullah trailing behind with 3,461,639 votes; a difference of exactly 1,024,249 votes between the two candidates. The final result of the election will announce on July 22.
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has claimed victory in the country's disputed presidential election and blamed fraud for putting him well behind rival Ashraf Ghani in preliminary results. "We are proud. We respect the votes of the people. We were the winner," Abdullah told thousands of cheering supporters in a giant tent in central Kabul on July 8. "We will not accept a fraudulent result -- not today, not tomorrow, never," he added. But Abdullah called for the country to remain unified. "We don't want civil war. We don't want a crisis," he said. "We want stability, national unity, not division." Abullah told supporters that he had held talks on the crisis by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. He said Kerry will visit Kabul on July 11 to discuss the election. Earlier, Abdullah supporters chanted "Death to Karzai!" They tore down a large portrait of the outgoing president and replaced it with an image of Abdullah. Dozens of Abdullah supporters also tore down a portrait of President Hamid Karzai at Kabul's international airport. Ghani, a former finance minister, and Abdullah, a former foreign minister, have accused each other of trying to manipulate the results.
Earlier on July 8, in a sharply worded statement, Kerry warned that any attempt to seize power in Afghanistan "by extra-legal means" would cost the country its international aid. Kerry voiced the "gravest concern" about reports of suggestions of a "parallel government" and said Washington expected Afghan electoral institutions to investigate "reasonable allegations of irregularities." Some Abdullah supporters have suggested his camp should declare victory and form a parallel government. Abdullah did not appear to address such calls in his remarks to supporters on July 8. In a July 8 statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Abdullah and Ghani to refrain from steps that could aggravate the situation and wait until the final results are announced later in the month. Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) said on July 7 that preliminary results from the June 14 second-round ballot show Ghani with 56.44 percent of the vote compared to 43.56 percent for Abdullah. Commission Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani stressed that the results could change after taking into consideration allegations of fraud or a review of votes that could later be invalidated. The hotly contested outcome of the election has sparked concerns about a wider split along ethnic lines in Afghanistan. Ghani attracts support from Pashtuns in the south and east, while Abdullah's loyalists are Tajiks in the north -- echoing the ethnic divisions of the civil war in the 1990s. The international community had pressed for a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan ahead of the planned withdrawal of international forces by the end of 2014.
Rhetoric rarely matches reality but, even allowing for government exaggeration, the gap between what was promised to the IDPs when the operation in North Waziristan was launched and what has been provided to them is far too large. The government has so far released Rs330 million which may sound like an impressive number but, given that there are well over 700,000 IDPs, amounts to little more than Rs470 per person. The distribution of food aid has been equally poor, with only 4,500 tons of relief goods being disbursed so far. The government had promised all necessary aid to people who have been left homeless through no fault of their own but it has failed to keep its word. Part of the problem is funding. We need to make up a shortfall of $235 million but the only foreign donors who have come to our rescue are the US, who pledged $31 million and the UAE, who said they will give us $20.5 million. All our other usual allies are missing, perhaps because they feel that since we are fighting an internal war it should be up to us to account for all the problems that arise from the military operation. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, has, however, announced that no formal request will be made for donations from other countries and the government has so far allocated Rs2 billion for the IDPs. The most shocking response has come from the provinces, with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab governments offering $5 million, Sindh offering $0.5 million and Balochistan unable to contribute anything. In the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the reticence is understandable since it is hosting most of the IDPs and has been suffering the economic fallout of militancy since 2011. But Punjab and Sindh should have done better. The impression the rest of the country is giving to the IDPs is that we have launched military action in their areas and now washed our hands off the problem. Out of the over half a million IDPs, only 2,700 have come to Punjab and even that has the provincial government worried. As the richest and most powerful province in the country, Punjab perhaps feels that it can shield itself from the problems that afflict the rest of Pakistan. It should instead be using its wealth to help out the most vulnerable. With the federal and Punjab governments willing to spend tens of millions of dollars on white elephant construction projects surely they can spare more funds for the IDPs. If we don’t even take care of their basic needs now how will we ever be able to rehabilitate the IDPs after the operation is over? And what happens to the much-talked about goal of winning the hearts and minds of the tribal people who have long been oppressed by those wielding guns and purveying ruthlessness?
Two-hundred non-Muslim families include the about 62,251 families that have left North Waziristan in the wake of the military offensive against terrorists in the tribal region, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. These families particularly include Christian and Hindu residents of North Waziristan who lived in solidarity with local tribesmen and are currently taking refuge in school buildings across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that are hosting the internally displaced population from the region. Upon the Pakistani government’s official request, the UNHCR began aiding these IDPs with critical relief products. The UNHCR has provided approximately 10,574 family kits of essential needs that included jerry cans, buckets, mosquito nets, mats, blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheets, sanitary cloths and soap. Other agencies and NGOs were also providing victuals, medical facilities, clean water, as well as assistance to satisfy other vital requirements of the displaced.
Jet fighters carried out airstrikes on suspected militant hideouts destroying seven of them while 13 militants were also killed on Tuesday during the Zarb-i-Azb operation in the North Waziristan tribal region. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed that the airstrikes were carried out early morning in the Degan area of North Waziristan. Army sources further claimed that seven militant hideouts were destroyed and 13 militants, including foreigners, were killed in airstrikes in Degan. The death toll, however, could not be independently verified. The strikes came a day after Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited the troops in North Waziristan.
It is common knowledge that there is a shortage of water in the city. People don’t have enough clean drinking water – or even dirty water to use for their daily chores.