Tuesday, September 2, 2014
With the "largest and most severe" Ebola virus outbreak advancing in West Africa, the battle against it is losing ground but "this outbreak can and will be controlled," UN officials said Tuesday. UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Dr. Margaret Chan, chief of the UN's World Health Organization (WHO), and Dr. David Nabarro, the UN system's senior coordinator in the battle against the disease, were among UN officials briefing the UN General Assembly. They later briefed reporters here. "This is one of the most serious health challenges we have ever seen in the United Nations," Eliasson said, calling the crisis " critically serious and deeply worrying." "Not only is it a health crisis but increasingly, a developmental, humanitarian and security crisis, potentially," he said. "The whole UN system is mobilized for action and not only the UN system as such but we will growingly be dependent on actions taken by member states." "This will be a test of capacity and a test of multilateralism and solidarity with people in need," the deputy secretary-general said, warning that time was critical. "This is the largest and the most severe and most complex Ebola (outbreak) ever seen in the nearly 40 year history of the disease, " said Chan. "No one, even outbreak responders, even dating back to 1976 to 1995, who have managed those outbreaks, have never seen anything like it." "Now the outbreaks .. are racing ahead of the control efforts," she said. "Ebola has become a global threat which requires urgent global efforts in solidarity with the affected countries," the WHO chief said. "The national authorities should take the lead by coordinating all the actors that they can bring to bear that can help us to control the outbreak. That speaks volumes about the need to a well coordinated mechanism, platform to bring together partners." "This outbreak can and will be controlled," she said. "We know what is needed and we know how to do it." Nabarro, who is charged with coordinating efforts not only within the UN system but also with other international organizations, such as the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), also was quick to draw a dark prognosis for the immediate future but still expressed optimism, like Chan, for controlling the epidemic. "In the UN system our job is to catalyze and support ways in which the generosity of all nations can be brought to the communities that need it the most," he said. "For that we will establish platforms at many levels in order to bring in unprecedented support in a dignified and supportive way." "The outbreak is advancing ahead of us," Nabarro said. "It is accelerating ahead of us." "We, in our control efforts, collectively, are falling behind," he said. "The more we fall behind and the more the outbreak accelerates ahead of us the harder it is to overtake it and control it." The experts at the briefing discussed the need for "a major surge in the response." "Why we want to see that surge in place is so that we can get back in line with the outbreak and ahead of it as quickly as possible," Nabarro said. He listed 12 points to "this exceptional response," the first of which is to improve understanding of the issue and to mobilize societies around that better understanding of Ebola disease. "We require responsibility from the whole world with what is a global emergency," said Nabarro.
Human Rights Watch has condemned the illegality of Ukrainian actions in east Ukraine, ascribing direct blame to Kiev for the rising death toll in the Lugansk Region, which by local estimates has reached 300 since May. The organization visited the city on August 20-22, performing a survey of the situation and carrying out interviews with locals who in one way or another were affected by the heavy bombardment, which had people cowering in fear in basements for weeks without water or electricity. Ever since Kiev’s attempts to retake the city from the local defense forces, massive power cuts, food and water shortages, and network interruptions have taken place. The situation resembles so many other humanitarian crises, with long lines of people queuing for basic supplies – at least those not afraid to leave their basements. “With communications cut, there is less information available about the situation in Lugansk [Luhansk] than other areas in the east,” Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher with the NGO said. “But the truth is, local residents are subjected to terrifying daily shelling, much of it apparently unlawful, and that the number of civilian casualties is steadily rising.” HRW saw that many attacks failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants, which are a violation of international law and the laws of war. Evidence of the indiscriminate nature of these attacks could be seen in the use of weaponry not meant for areas where precision is required. Projectiles with 152mm caliber aren’t intended for such missions. Nor are 350mm Smersh rockets and cluster munitions deliver by 220mm Uragan (Hurricane) rockets. “The use of explosive weapons with such wide-area effects in a city full of civilians is completely irresponsible and will almost inevitably lead to civilian casualties… Whether used by government or insurgent forces, those responsible should be held to account for this callous disregard for civilian life,” Solvang continued. The local head of the medical examiner’s office, Anatoly Tureevich, told HRW that bodies have been coming in almost daily since May. “The numbers vary from day to day depending on the intensity of the shelling. On July 21, we received 20 bodies, on July 22 – 5, July 23 – 3, July 26 – 18, August 4 – 17. August 14 was a bad day with 22 people. Ninety-nine percent of the civilians we receive have died from shrapnel injuries.” These only cover civilian casualties. While the outright lack of security on the ground made it difficult to establish whether said weapons directly led to civilian deaths, there is little doubt the majority of structural destruction was caused by them. While Ukraine isn’t party to the Cluster Munitions Agreement of 2008, its use of large-caliber weaponry on civilian areas cannot be ignored, HRW stated, adding that it will recommend that such weapons are not used in populated areas in future. Among HRW’s other recommendations was for the international community to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to adhere to the rules of engagement and to international humanitarian law, while also urging Russia to do what it can to appeal to the eastern self-defense forces. The results of the survey indicate that a large majority of attacks on the city were carried out by Ukrainian government forces, while the insurgents were responsible for much fewer and targeted government positions on the outskirts of Lugansk. An August 18 attack saw shells strike a busy central market, killing four – then striking it again in the coming days, during HRW’s visit. Evidence, however, also points to an insurgent role in several attacks, one of which was the August 10 incident in Krasny Yar, a village just north of Lugansk, which injured two civilians when a Grad rocket struck from the direction where self-defense forces were allegedly based. A rough statistic of injuries and fatalities has been compiled by HRW, outlining eight especially severe incidences of shelling having taken place in August – all in the most severely hit Zhovtnevy district, which underscores the very bad luck some civilians have had: medical clinics, schools, exhibition centers and other area structures had been hit, killing dozens and injuring more. The chief of the district told the organization there were no self-defense forces in the area at the time of those attacks there. The shelling by the Ukrainian military has only increased since August 13. Other officials, such as firefighters, compounded the reports of difficulties faced when dealing with the consequences of such heavy assaults. Although HRW could not get the kind of full account it would have wished, its survey team bore witness to several incidents itself: on the day it visited, one shell truck an apartment block just 200 meters from the group’s location. It counted a dozen more shells on August 21, all striking the central part of Lugansk. The organization documented craters left after heavy bombardment downtown, some of which were dangerously close to the city hospital. It gathered harrowing victim accounts of the ordeal undergone by the city’s residents. In the meantime, the United States continues to place the blame on all escalation on the Russian government, purporting that it has crossed borders, or that it’s controlling the insurgency, and that it had fired upon Ukraine from its own positions near the border. No evidence of this had been given to date. At the same time, the OSCE observers stationed in the east of the country likewise provided no evidence of Russian military involvement.
The Court of Appeal today gave permission to authorities to send back scores of Pakistani asylum seekers, after the government said they were a threat to the island’s security and public health. Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva asked the Appeal court to lift an earlier suspension of deportations, saying there was evidence Pakistanis were committing crimes and bringing malaria into the country, which was otherwise virtually free of the disease, the Reuters news agency reported. “Interim relief was vacated and the court has dismissed the application. Now all the asylum seekers are exposed to deportation if government wants,” said Lakshan Dias, lawyer of a 38-year-old Pakistani woman who complained after her husband, brother and father were detained pending deportation. The court on Aug. 15 ordered authorities to temporarily stop deporting the Pakistanis, after the woman said her family was being forcibly sent home without having their claims properly assessed. The United Nations refugee agency says 88 Pakistanis have been deported since Aug. 1 in what is has called a breach of international law. The agency has called for an end to the deportations and demanded access to another 75 detained people who are awaiting deportation. The Sri Lankan government says the Pakistanis are part of an influx of economic immigrants in the past year who have become a burden on the country’s resources and potentially compromised state and regional security. Most of the Pakistanis are from the Ahmadiyya Islamic sect. The Ahmadi consider themselves Muslims, but a 1984 Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims and many Pakistanis consider them heretics. In July, a mob killed an Ahmadi woman and two of her granddaughters in Pakistan after another sect member was accused of posting blasphemous material on Facebook. According to UNHCR guidelines, members of religious minorities may need protection and require particularly careful examination of their asylum claims. Sri Lankan authorities deny violating any international laws, saying the country is not a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention. The number of refugees or asylum seekers rose by 700 percent in the year through June 2014 from the previous year, says the foreign ministry. That included 1,562 asylum seekers and 308 refugees.
The contact among Former president Asif Ali Zardari, Jamaat Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday resulted in PTI’s acceptance of government’s dialogue offer, Dunya News reported. Sirajul Haq and former Interior Minister Rehman Malik also agreed to resolve the conflict through dialogue. The ongoing political crisis in the country led politicians to establish contact with each other in a bid to find a democratic solution acceptable to all stakeholders. Zardari – known for his political reconciliation – contacted Sirajul Haq for consultation. Haq then contacted Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Sources revealed that both leaders agreed to resume dialogue with the government. Former president then contacted Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Mehmood Achakzai, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi over the phone and deliberated over the ongoing crisis in detail. A meeting between Jamaat chief and PPP leader Rehman Malik also took place. Addressing the media, Sirajul Haq said that politics, constitution and democracy face grave threats. He said that the in-fight should not give an opportunity to seize power to a third force. Speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly also established contact with Jamaat chief and discussed the political situation.
Pakistan: Former President Zardari discussed prevailing political situation with political parties’ leaders
Former President Asif Ali Zardari today (Tuesday) telephoned separately JI Amir Sirajul Haq, Chief of JUI Moulana Fazalur Rehman, PML-Q leader Ch. Pervez Illahi, Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party head Mehmood Khan Achakzai and senior politician Javed Hashmi and discussed current political situation with them.
http://www.euronews.com/Despite a UN-led audit of votes from June’s disputed presidential election, the threat of further turmoil in Afghanistan hangs over this week’s NATO summit. It follows the collapse of talks on a power-sharing deal, with former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign threatening to withdraw from the political process. It is “at a stalemate” said Mohammad Mohaqeq, one of Abdullah’s vice presidential running mates. “If it continues like this, we don’t see any way out.” Abdullah and his rival, ex finance minister Ashraf Ghani, had agreed to the deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry but it was left to the two campaigns to work out the specifics of power sharing. NATO has faced criticism over civilians killed in air strikes or night raids. Kabul residents nonetheless worry that the departure of foreign forces could lead to worse violence or the return of the Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in 2001.
By Dr Subhash Kapila The Pakistan Army stands at the centre of facilitating the ongoing besiegement of Pakistan’s democratically elected Government by its political stooges and notably synchronising it with escalation of border clashes on the India-Pak borders. Pakistan Army’s end-game is patently clear and that is to engage in calibrated escalation of the dubious political demonstrations in Islamabad through its minions, namely, PTI Chief Imran Khan and the parachuted Pakistani Canadian cleric Tahirul Qadri, combined with ceasefire violations escalation on its Indian borders so that a combustible mix occurs justifying any impending military coup. The Pakistan Army needs to answer as to how these political demonstrators were allowed to penetrate into Islamabad’s ‘Red Zone’ housing the Pakistan National Assembly, PMs House and other constitutional organs of Pakistan. Nobody seems to be asking the question as to how when the security of Islamabad was handed over to the Pakistan Army preceding the siege, how did Imran Khan’s motley crowd succeeded in penetrating the Army -secured Red Zone area. The infamous 111 Infantry Brigade at Rawalpindi is tasked for the security of Islamabad besides being more famous as the spearhead of all Pakistan Army’s coups against democratically elected governments. Why is it been found wanting to adequately secure Islamabad’s nerve centre of governance? Or, is it that it is being made to wait the calibrated plan of the Pakistan Army to declare Martial Law on the pretext that both Pakistan’s internal security and Pakistan’s external security along the Indian borders stands threatened? Pakistan’s domestic actors in the ongoing political turmoil are obviously the Pakistan Army and its political stooges like Imran Khan and Qadri who preferred to collude with the Pakistan Army rather than following the constitutional route of seeking redress from the Pakistani Courts. Noticeably, the present political turmoil seems to be confined to Islamabad only without reverberations in Pakistan’s heartland of Punjab. Imran Khan’s PTI Party won only thirty four seats in the National Assembly and is disputing rigging in four constituencies. Presuming that even all these four seats are given to PTI by any Election Commission verdict which Imran Khan has not awaited, he still could not overturn Nawaz Sharif’s Government which commands a comfortable majority. Or is it Imran’s claim as the main disputant that massive rigging took place in all the over three hundred plus National Assembly seats? This flies in the face of verdicts given by European Union’s election observers and also those from the United Nation, both of whom certified that Pakistan General Elections 2013 were by and large fair. Obviously, Imran Khan has willingly played along the tunes orchestrated by the Pakistan Army and the ISI. This is also revealingly being unfolded by the statements of his own PTI President and that the forced march to the Parliament House which was not on the PTI agenda was ordered by Imran Khan two nights back on instructions from someone. This obviously seems to have been done on the Pakistan Army’s instructions so that political violence is provoked and Pakistan Army has a ready- made ‘cassus belli’. India would be misreading the situation in Pakistan if led to believe by Pakistan Army press releases that it is not in favour of toppling of a democratic government but the Government should reach a political settlement. Why has the Pakistan Army not insisted that Imran Khan and Qadri should seek judicial and constitutional redress for their political grievances? Moving to the external actors that come into play in any political crises in Pakistan generated by the Pakistan Army, these are the United States, Saudi Arabia and China. All these three patrons of the Pakistan Army have made substantial investments in the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Army’s strategic utility to serve their respective strategic investments. United States-Pakistan Army relationship is a sordid saga of Pakistan’s experiments with democracy being put aside on grounds of American political and diplomatic expediencies. In the instant case too, I have been informally airing that with the impending exit of US Forces from Afghanistan, the United States would prefer that the Pakistan Army is at the helm of Pakistan in terms of political control. The Americans in strategically challenging situation prefer to deal with Pakistan Army Generals. Saudi Arabia’s regime rests heavily on Pakistan Army shoulders both in the conventional sense and in terms of nuclear deterrence in relation to the Iranian threat. The Saudis have also played politics in Pakistan’s political dynamics by offering sanctuaries in Saudi Arabia for dispossessed Pakistani political dignitaries and also Pakistani Generals. China gives the impression that it is only a passive spectator in Pakistani politics but we cannot forget that when China cracks the whip as it happened during the Lal Masjid incidents some years back the Pakistan Army swung forcefully into action. The United States has made perfunctory noise initially that America does not favour any change of a democratically elected Pakistani Government but it now seems to be awaiting a Pakistan Army military take-over. Saudi Arabia and China are content with Pakistan Army being in power in Pakistan. Regrettably, the Pakistani silent political majority has not made any counter-moves to defeat the Pakistan Army-Imran Khan-Qadri dubious nexus to topple Pakistan’s democracy by unconstitutional methods of political disruption. Since America and the Army (Pakistan) display no signs of preventing the toppling of a democratically elected Government. The silent political majority in Pakistan can only invoke divine intervention of PBUH The Almighty Allah to instil better sense in the Pakistan Army Generals to forestall the impending military coup which can take place any time.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said opposition parties support the constitution and democracy unconditionally. Ahsan cautioned that if the government overcame this crisis its ministers would become more arrogant.
Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has tweeted in favor of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi. Javed Hashmi is one of the country’s credible politicians, and has been in news for a few days for his recent acts. Earlier today, he hurled some allegations on Imran Khan and revealed some interesting stories about the party. BilawalBhuttoZardari @BBhuttoZardari Ek bahadur aadmi, Hashmi, Hashmi! Bilawal in his recent message chanted a slogan in favor of PTI president, which his party’s workers and other supporters used to chant for Hashmi.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spent quite a lot of time talking up its democratic and revolutionary party structure before the elections. It was hailed as a party that holds inter-party elections, takes decisions based on comprehensive meetings, and involves all stakeholders in its deliberations; a model party for a new Pakistan. Yet the party’s elected President, Javed Hashmi, has unleashed a deluge of accusations against the Chairman which cast serious doubts on these cherished notions. The party that is crusading against the Sharif ‘monarchy’ is looking increasingly like Imran Khan’s personal fiefdom. ‘I don’t take dictations from anybody and Mr. Hashmi knows it,’ thundered Imran Khan as he announced that Mr Hashmi is part of the party no more. It would appear he doesn’t take non-aggressive dictation (also known as advice or dissent) from his party members either. This comes on the back of the report that three MNAs have been kicked out of the party for hesitating to give their resignations; elected representatives simply discarded for dissenting with the Captain without proper due process. The party has a constitution that promises a fair hearing and a cause to be established before members can be removed. Imran Khan, whose grievance with the government stems from denial of due process in the election tribunals, himself treats the concept with little regard. This doesn’t end here; reservations about the march in the party were bulldozed over, the coalition partner, JI, was similarly sidelined when it protested. His speeches refer to himself, to ‘Prime Minister Imran Khan’. His narrative is built around a spectacular battle between himself and Nawaz Sharif. The party has become a vehicle for Imran Khan; you’re either with him, or you’re against him. When he is unwilling to allow for a democratic party, how can we expect him to formulate a democratic government? A democracy is built on compromise; a word detested by Khan. The basic idea of democracy is that the whole nation contributes its ideas, morals and policies through its representatives, and then we debate, and compromise to reach a single notion that is known as the ‘collective conscience’ of the nation. The final outcome usually doesn’t resemble the original election mandate, but a negotiated version; an acceptable version, a fair version. That is the essence of democracy; that we cater to everyone, not only to ourselves or those who sound just like us. Imran Khan’s behaviour contradicts everything he claims to stand for. It’s quite a simple question in the end: how will he change the system, if he can’t change himself?
What Protestors Did With An Anchor Uzma... by zemtv As if storming the PM House and assaulting journalists was not bad enough, the ‘leopards and tigers’ of the two dharnas attacked the headquarters of PTV on Monday. Armed with clubs they destroyed equipment, vandalised the building and left staffers traumatised. That they had the technical ability to take PTV off the air would hint at the attack being planned in advance rather than a random outbreak of anger. It took the deployment of Rangers and then the army to clear the building and get the station running again. This is an unprecedented event which appeared to have been staged mainly by supporters of Tahirul Qadri, who had praised the hooliganism before he started lying. Some reports suggest PTI activists also followed the hoard in. Since then both the leaders have denied, in somewhat contradictory terms, that their people were involved. Qadri has said the ‘Awam’, in other words ordinary people, broke in. Why they should do so he did not explain. Imran first insisted that none of his workers was a part of the attack and then said anyone who was would be dismissed from the party. It is clear that Imran and Qadri’s words incited these people to action. What we see is sheer thuggery unleashed by frustrated, angry people whose leaders lack clarity and wisdom. Imran’s denial of responsibility is similar to his claim that the assault on the PM House was not his fault since he and his people were in the background while others led the attack. It is certainly true that Imran has kept a safe distance but that can be attributed to his self-preservation instincts. Everyone heard his calls for the rally to move there and he purposely sent his young “cornered tigers”, armed with sticks and stones, to the frontlines. Now he has called for the Kohsar police station to be stormed if his activists -detained for rioting – are not released. He has taken full and deliberate advantage of an absent government. The police seemed too fearful to take the necessary action to disperse the criminal crowd. The FIRs filed against Imran and Qadri for their role in the attack on parliament may be an attempt to regain the initiative but it is more likely to be a case of too little too late. Still, the assault on the PTV headquarters should be added to the charge sheet.
The ongoing sit-in on Constitution Avenue by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) is taking a serious toll of the economy. Figures released by several federal ministers including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar vary between 500 to 800 billion rupees during the last 17 days with the business community of the country concurring with these estimates and warning that the toll is rising with each passing day that the political crisis is not resolved. The Finance Minister pointed out that the bulk of the loss - 350 billion rupees - was on account of the stock market, or in other words it was in portfolio investment, which is the most susceptible to political turmoil yet this too has major macroeconomic implications. Transporters from Karachi port to upcountry areas are reluctant to take any consignments through Punjab for delivery not only in Punjab but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) for fear that their trucks may be attacked by angry mobs of PTI and PAT workers. While the consignments may be insured yet most of the trucks are not and the transporters have refused to take the risk. Thus, for example, palm oil importers have been unable to move the product to Punjab and KPK during the past two weeks or so, creating shortages that would soon begin to bite the common man. Inventories are rising throughout the country and until and unless they are offloaded soon stockpiling would make any additional output/import uneconomic due to shortage of storage facilities that would automatically lead to workers layoff. No federal ministry is open for business to the general public including the Ministry of Finance and Commerce and therefore business activity remains stalled. And finally the daily wage earners in Islamabad are suffering especially those who were engaged in the Metrobus project as that has come to a complete standstill. Recent data released by the Federal Board of Revenue indicates that tax collections have exceeded targets for August by over one billion rupees, however, the implications of rising inventories and inability to transport to up-country areas would have major implications for revenue collections in weeks to come. The business community has expressed serious concern over their failure to meet with their foreign clients due to the sit-ins maintaining that they could lose existing clients if they divert their orders to competing businesses in other countries. Once a client is lost it is very difficult to get him back, exporters are warning. The rupee-dollar parity has also declined as a consequence of the political uncertainty, which implies that imports would become dearer though exports may receive a boost as Pakistani products would now be cheaper than before. However, blocked roads and other transport-related issues would limit the favourable impact of the rupee-dollar parity. Imran Khan's call of civil disobedience that includes non-payment of electricity bills is also a cause of serious concern as power sector recoveries remain low; and any further rise would automatically lead to a worsening of the power crisis. While no one challenges the right to protest in a democracy yet the continuing sit-n for over two weeks is exacting a heavy economic toll from the general public and one hopes that the two protagonists begin to move towards resolution of the crisis. Imran Khan would do well to heed his own advice to the government in the matter of the Taliban namely to first negotiate prior to using force. At the same time the onus of concessions in negotiations is on the greater power, which in this case is clearly the government. One can only hope that better sense prevails on both sides and the existing stalemate is breached promptly.
According to Javed Hashmi, former President Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan unilaterally reversed the party’s core committe’s decision not to enter the Red Zone or cross the government’s red line. Hashmi said that Imran has been taking dictation from ‘someone’ other than his party members. Hashmi has gone so far as to claim that Imran has been persuaded by the establishment to tighten the noose around the government’s neck through protests and agitation. And the idea to include Qadri in the protests also came from the same source. Hashmi rebuked Imran for putting democracy in peril by serving the establishment’s agenda. After these revelations, the scales have fallen from Imran’s image. Imran has been accusing Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif of running the country like a monarch. After Hashmi’s disclosures, Imran himself appears to be an autocratic leader. Stories have been making the rounds about Imran’s undemocratic attitudes within the party. With Hashmi’s expose, the cat is now out of the bag. The manner in which Imran castigated Hashmi after he went public about Imran’s indiscretions shows yet again Imran Khan’s rude side. He has been doing this ever since the sit-in has begun. Imran’s reluctance to negotiate a way out of the crisis and his intransigence on seeking the PM’s resignation were already being seen as signs of a third force directing the course of events. Imran’s options are shrinking with each passing day and his credibility is eroding as he swings from one crisis to another. He had committed to the authorities he would not enter the Red Zone; he went there. He then committed he would not cross the red line or storm state institutions; he did exactly that. He promised his crowd would remain peaceful; he instigated and spurred them on to aggression through his abrasive and provocative speeches. Then he talks of honesty and insaaf (justice). The protest that went on peacefully for days became ugly on Saturday night when the protestors stormed state buildings with the aim to create the conditions for bringing the government down. The government is on record as having made it clear to both the PAT and PTI that any attempt to invade state buildings would be met with force. The protestors carrying slingshots and sticks were clearly being instructed by Imran and Qadri to forcibly take over the PM’s House. What followed, three deaths and hundreds injured, was as much the result of the protestors’ violating their solemn commitments as the well known roughness the police resorts to once unleashed. The army has been able to keep the mob from entering the PM’s House and parliament but not the PTV headquarters (at least initially). The charged crowd managed to enter PTV on Monday morning, damaging equipment and ransacking the place, which led to a temporary suspension of broadcasting until the army finally arrived and turfed out the occupiers. We do not know how far Hashmi’s charges of the establishment being responsible for bringing the country to this pass are true. The decision of the Corp Commanders’ meeting to support democracy goes some way towards putting to rest the speculations about the army’s involvement in encouraging the protests. But it has still not entirely allayed the fear of the government’s weakening opening the door to the army’s carving out for itself a larger chunk of control in the arena of security and foreign policy, especially involving India and Afghanistan. The army’s formulation to support the democratic system does not automatically mean it supports the incumbent government too. That is still a grey area so far. To consolidate its political support further, the government in the meantime has called a joint session of parliament today. It has also decided that parliament will remain in session so long as the sit-in continues. This parliament versus street confrontation seems destined to settle parliament’s sovereign status. In any case, a motley crowd of rowdy supporters should not be allowed to overthrow an elected government. The PM’s reiteration of his resolve not to resign at gunpoint will save the country from setting a wrong precedent, and is therefore a welcome step. Amidst this cacophony, the role of the electronic media in broadcasting unsubstantiated rumours is irresponsible and deplorable. If the attack on journalists by the police was wrong and condemnable, the media’s role in jumping to the (wrong) conclusions is as bad.
The carefully constructed veneer of neutrality that the army leadership had constructed through much of the national political crisis instigated by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri has been torn apart.First, came the army’s statement on Sunday, the third in a series of statements in recent days on the political crisis, which quite astonishingly elevated the legitimacy and credibility of the demands of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and their violent protesters above that of the choices and actions of an elected government dealing with a political crisis. Consider the sequence of events so far. When the army first publicly waded into the political crisis, it counselled restraint on all sides — as though it was the government that fundamentally still had some questions hanging over its legitimacy simply because Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri alleged so. Next, the army crept towards the Khan/Qadri camp by urging the government to facilitate negotiations — as though it was the government that was being unreasonable, and not Mr Khan and Mr Qadri. Now, staggeringly, the army has ‘advised’ the government not to use force against violent protesters and essentially told it to make whatever concessions necessary to placate Mr Khan and Mr Qadri. It is simply extraordinary that it is the PAT and PTI supporters who want to break into and occupy state buildings, but it is the government that has been rebuked. It’s as if the army is unaware — rather, unwilling — to acknowledge the constitutional scheme of things: it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around. The government has already issued its order: invoking Article 245. On Saturday, as violent thugs attacked parliament, it was surely the army’s duty to repel them. But the soldiers stationed there did nothing and the army leadership the next day warned the government instead of the protesters — which largely explains why the protesters were able to continue their pitched battles with the police and attacked the PTV headquarters yesterday. If that were not enough, yesterday also brought another thunderbolt: this time from within the PTI with party president Javed Hashmi indicating that Mr Khan is essentially doing what he has been asked and encouraged to do by the army leadership. It took the ISPR a few hours to respond with the inevitable denial, but a mere denial is inadequate at this point. The functioning of the state stands paralysed because a few thousand protesters and their leaders have laid siege to state institutions. Where is the army condemnation of that? Would the army allow even a handful of peaceful protesters to gather outside GHQ for a few hours? The army is hardly being ‘neutral’. It is making a choice. And, it is disappointing that choice is doing little to strengthen the constitutional, democratic and legitimate scheme of things.
Five cases have been registered against the leaders and activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik on different charges, including sedition, murder attempt and terrorism. More than 200 activists were arrested from the Constitution Avenue and hospitals on Monday and Sunday night, officials said. Police launched a crackdown against office-bearers and activists of the two parties in Punjab. According to a PTI leader, 150 workers were arrested only from Lahore, a claim rejected by police. PTI leaders and activists got one of the arrested people, MPA Iftikhar Mashwani, released during an attack on the Secretariat police station, they alleged. On Sunday evening, the government submitted a complaint to police seeking registration of a case against PAT and PTI leaders and workers, they said. Later the case was registered under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Pakistan Penal Code’s section 124-A (sedition), 324 (murder attempt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty), 148 (rioting and being armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) 452 (trespass after preparation for hurting, assaulting or wrongful restraining a person), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with the intent to destroy a house), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) 152 (assault to obstruct public servant when suppressing riot), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment). PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT head Dr Tahirul Qadri are among the leaders nominated in the case. The Aabpara police registered another case against leaders and activists of the two parties on separate charges. Likewise, the Margalla police registered two cases against PTI activists on charges of snatching weapons used in lobbing teargas shells and setting a police vehicle on fire. PTI leaders Shireen Mazari, Arif Alvi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, along with activists, came to the police station and, after lodging the complaint, forcibly got MPA Mashwani released from the lockup, they said. They also attacked the Moharar and the incident led to the registration of another case. To counter the FIRs, the PTI leadership lodged a complaint with the Secretariat police to seek registration of a murder case against police, officials of the administration and a federal minister. The case has not been registered to date. The officials said that police were seeking legal opinion about registering a murder case against PAT and PTI leaders and activists. They claimed that on Saturday night policemen deployed at the Constitution Avenue were unarmed and two protesters were killed by bullets fired by one of the agitators. It had been decided to insert the section pertaining to murder into the FIR registered with the Secretariat police station, they said. The officials said that IG Khalid Khattak had directed his subordinates to register as many cases against the leaders and activists of the PTI and the PAT as they could. Our staff reporter adds from Lahore: The Punjab police launched late on Monday night a crackdown on office-bearers and activists of the PAT and the PTI for taking part in rallies in some parts of the province and thus violating section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The arrests were made in the light of lists sent to all station house officers of the province. But in the provincial capital, no arrest was officially reported by police contrary to allegations levelled by a PTI leader. Informed police sources told Dawn that the crackdown had been launched on the ‘order’ of the provincial government and the IG had issued ‘verbal’ orders to his subordinates. Most of the office-bearers and leading activists of the two parties were reported to have gone underground to avoid arrests as policemen raided their residences and outhouses. The sources said police had been directed to arrest PAT members across the board but to pick up only those PTI leaders and office-bearers who incited activists to hold rallies and stage sit-ins. They said the arrested people would be booked under section 188 (disobedience to order duty promulgated by a public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, alleged that police had arrested around 150 PTI activists in different areas of the city. Talking to reporters, he said the arrests had been made in Iqbal Town, Faisal Town, Shahdara and Baghbanpura. He claimed that the provincial government had instructed its ‘Gullu Butts’ to pick up party workers to prevent them from staging demonstrations and sit-ins. The PTI leader alleged that the party leaders were receiving threatening calls and being asked to stay at home.
Once in the capital, the protesters camped out near the parliament, pushing their demands.
Three people were killed over the weekend in riots.
Pakistani anti-government protesters stormed the state TV building on Monday, forcing the channel briefly off the air as they clashed with police and pushed further into a sprawling government complex in the capital, Islamabad, in an effort to reach the prime minister's residence. Mr Sharif met the army chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday to discuss the crisis, military sources said.What do the military think? Muttering within the military over Nawaz Sharif's "failure" to take the top brass "into confidence" before making overtures to India's new prime minister, the Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi, reinforced a feeling that he was challenging their traditional control over foreign policy. Now with the capital's main avenues in the hands of thousands of club and slingshot-wielding supporters of Imran Khan and the Muslim sect leader Tahirul Qadri, both of whom have support within the military, Mr Sharif suddenly needs the army's support. What happens next? By urging both the government and the protesters to refrain from using force, the army has left Mr Sharif to sweat. If he orders paramilitary troops to shoot to protect the National Assembly, he risks an army intervention to restore peace in the national interest. If he dissolves his government and calls fresh elections – which some supporters say he may yet reluctantly do – he risks losing power or returning with a weaker government and the ignominy of having been bullied into submission by a few thousand protesters. The strong mandate he won in last year's election has already been effectively overthrown by a charismatic former cricketer and a few even-handed statements by General Raheem Sharif, his army chief. Nawaz Sharif is due to address both houses of parliament on Tuesday in an apparent effort to show that he is firmly in control.
Fierce fighting in Pakistan is harming and helping the country’s drive to eradicate polio. With cases steadily decreasing in Nigeria, the only other persistent global hot spot, Pakistan is becoming the virus’s last refuge; 117 cases of polio paralysis have been found this year, up from 25 by this time last year. And in three months of fighting between the armed forces and the Taliban, nearly a million people have been displaced, spreading the virus, according to Unicef. But the military operations can be “a blessing in disguise,” in the words of the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations, which wants the disease eliminated. Most cases are in the rural Waziristan region, where leaders of some Taliban factions have banned vaccinations since 2012. As refugees flee, they often encounter polio vaccinators, who have given two million doses at roadside posts in parts of Waziristan now controlled by the army and in cities to which people from the region have fled. However, cases do appear elsewhere, including just across the Afghan border and in distant urban neighborhoods where people from Waziristan now live. If the grip of Taliban leaders is broken, the giving of vaccinations may increase quickly. A Harvard-Unicef survey of parents in other areas where the Taliban is strong found that more than 80 percent thought offering vaccine in their neighborhoods was a “very good” or “somewhat good” idea. In May, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency when polio spread to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Iraq. But unless new cases are being missed because of fighting in Iraq and Syria, those appear — like the 2013 outbreaks in Somalia and Kenya — to have been snuffed out by vaccinations.