Monday, October 20, 2014

U.S. Ebola czar seeks to reverse government mistakes, step up response

U.S. Ebola czar Ron Klain faces a hefty to-do list when he begins his new role: soothe Americans' jitters about the virus, fix federal coordination with states, and restore a sense of control over the crisis that the White House had lost.
Klain, a former senior aide in two Democratic administrations who is known for his keen political antenna, also must smooth over tensions with lawmakers who are angry about the government's missteps and mixed messages.
Klain has been dismissed as a political operative by Republicans because he lacks a medical background.
But administration officials and his associates describe him as a problem solver who understands the levers of government and can ensure smoother coordination among an array of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
“Many times in these complex responses you have to combine resources across agencies, work across boundaries,” said Thad Allen, the former Coast Guard chief who served in a similar role leading the administration's response to the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
"There are ... policy issues that kind of swirl around all of this that are more the subject of folks that work in Congress and the administration. But the person who is working the problem needs to be focused purely on carrying out the operation that solves the problem on behalf of the American people."
Klain met on Saturday with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, though he does not start his job officially until this week.
Klain, who has a reputation as a "fixer" for top Democrats, has served as chief of staff to both Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore.
He oversaw Gore's Florida recount operation in the disputed 2000 election and helped President Barack Obama recover from his disastrous first debate against Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race.
Klain has remained a familiar presence at the White House, making roughly 75 visits there between January 2011, when he stepped down as Biden's top aide, and June 2014, according to visitor logs.
Stephen Morrison, an expert in global health policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Klain could take some heat off public health professionals so they can focus on their jobs while he navigates the politics.
“This is somebody who knows how to use the bully pulpit that he’s been given. I think that’s probably half of the game,” Morrison said.
At least initially, though, Klain seems likely to focus on the behind-the-scenes aspects of his job. An NIH official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, represented the administration on the Sunday TV news programs this week, not Klain.
Restoring public trust will be key. The CDC has come in for sharp criticism for its handling of the cases of two nurses who were infected with Ebola after treating a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, at a Dallas hospital before he died.
Critics say missteps by the CDC may have put nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, as well as their contacts, at risk.
"(Klain) can have eyes over CDC to make sure they are aggressive," said Neera Tanden, a former White House official who now leads the Center for American Progress.
"They now have swat teams going to all locations with Ebola patients, but clearly that is something they should have been doing earlier," she said.
But Scott Gottlieb, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, said Klain was ill-suited to the role and, echoing other critics, said Obama should have chosen someone with experience in handling public health emergencies.
"It befuddles me what they want" for the Ebola czar job, Gottlieb said. "You want someone who can help coordinate across NIH, CDC, FDA; someone who understands the issues, the optics and knows what to ask for and knows who to go to," Gottlieb said, adding, "There is a very steep learning curve."

Cuba's Fidel Castro On Ebola - Duty calls

Our country did not hesitate one minute in responding to the request made by international bodies for support to the struggle against the brutal epidemic which has erupted in West Africa.
This is what our country has always done, without exception. The government had already given pertinent instructions to immediately mobilize and reinforce medical personnel offering their services in this region on the African continent. A rapid response was likewise given to the United Nations request, as has always been done when requests for cooperation have been made.
Any conscious person knows that political decisions which involve risks to highly qualified personnel imply a high level of responsibility on the part of those who call upon them to fulfill a dangerous task. It is even more difficult than sending soldiers, who have also done so as their duty, to combat and die for a just political cause.
The medical professionals who travel to any location whatsoever to save lives, even at the risk of losing their own, provide the greatest example of solidarity a human being can offer, above all when no material interest whatsoever exists as a motivation. Their closest family members also contribute to such missions what they most love and admire. A country tested by many years of heroic struggle can understand well what is expressed here.
Everyone understands that by completing this task with maximum planning and efficiency, our people and sister peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America will be protected, preventing expansion of the epidemic, which has unfortunately already been introduced, and could spread, in the United States, which maintains many personal ties and interactions with the rest of the world. We will happily cooperate with U.S. personnel in this task, not in search of peace between these two states which have been adversaries for so many years, but rather, in any event, for World Peace, an objective which can and should be attempted.
Monday, October 20, at the request of several countries in the area, a meeting will take place in Havana with the participation of important authorities who have expressed the need to implement pertinent measures to prevent the spreading of the epidemic, and combat it in a rapid and efficient manner.
Caribbeans and Latin Americans will be sending a message of encouragement and of struggle to the rest of the world's peoples.
The hour of duty has arrived.
Fidel Castro Ruz

Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola

Cuba is an impoverished island that remains largely cut off from the world and lies about 4,500 miles from the West African nations where Ebola is spreading at an alarming rate. Yet, having pledged to deploy hundreds of medical professionals to the front lines of the pandemic, Cuba stands to play the most robust role among the nations seeking to contain the virus.
Cuba’s contribution is doubtlessly meant at least in part to bolster its beleaguered international standing. Nonetheless, it should be lauded and emulated.
The global panic over Ebola has not brought forth an adequate response from the nations with the most to offer. While the United States and several other wealthy countries have been happy to pledge funds, only Cuba and a few nongovernmental organizations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.
Doctors in West Africa desperately need support to establish isolation facilities and mechanisms to detect cases early. More than 400 medical personnel have been infected and about 4,500 patients have died. The virus has shown up in the United States and Europe, raising fears that the epidemic could soon become a global menace.
It is a shame that Washington, the chief donor in the fight against Ebola, is diplomatically estranged from Havana, the boldest contributor. In this case the schism has life-or-death consequences, because American and Cuban officials are not equipped to coordinate global efforts at a high level. This should serve as an urgent reminder to the Obama administration that the benefits of moving swiftly to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba far outweigh the drawbacks.
The Cuban health care workers will be among the most exposed foreigners, and some could very well contract the virus. The World Health Organization is directing the team of Cuban doctors, but it remains unclear how it would treat and evacuate Cubans who become sick. Transporting quarantined patients requires sophisticated teams and specially configured aircraft. Most insurance companies that provide medical evacuation services have said they will not be flying Ebola patients.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday praised “the courage of any health care worker who is undertaking this challenge,” and made a brief acknowledgment of Cuba’s response. As a matter of good sense and compassion, the American military, which now has about 550 troops in West Africa, should commit to giving any sick Cuban access to the treatment center the Pentagon built in Monrovia and to assisting with evacuation.
The work of these Cuban medics benefits the entire global effort and should be recognized for that. But Obama administration officials have callously declined to say what, if any, support they would give them.
The Cuban health sector is aware of the risks of taking on dangerous missions. Cuban doctors assumed the lead role in treating cholera patients in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. Some returned home sick, and then the island had its first outbreak of cholera in a century. An outbreak of Ebola on the island could pose a far more dangerous risk and increase the odds of a rapid spread in the Western Hemisphere.
Cuba has a long tradition of dispatching doctors and nurses to disaster areas abroad. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Cuban government created a quick-reaction medical corps and offered to send doctors to New Orleans. The United States, unsurprisingly, didn’t take Havana up on that offer. Yet officials in Washington seemed thrilled to learn in recent weeks that Cuba had activated the medical teams for missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
With technical support from the World Health Organization, the Cuban government trained 460 doctors and nurses on the stringent precautions that must be taken to treat people with the highly contagious virus. The first group of 165 professionals arrived in Sierra Leone in recent days. José Luis Di Fabio, the World Health Organization’s representative in Havana, said Cuban medics were uniquely suited for the mission because many had already worked in Africa. “Cuba has very competent medical professionals,” said Mr. Di Fabio, who is Uruguayan. Mr. Di Fabio said Cuba’s efforts to aid in health emergencies abroad are stymied by the embargo the United States imposes on the island, which struggles to acquire modern equipment and keep medical shelves adequately stocked.
In a column published over the weekend in Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma, Fidel Castro argued that the United States and Cuba must put aside their differences, if only temporarily, to combat a deadly scourge. He’s absolutely right.

Music Video - Nicki Minaj - Anaconda

Progressive women driving change in conservative Afghanistan
“Although my husband and sons don’t allow me to drive, I prefer to drive and enjoy the practice,” a 42-year-old lady told Xinhua.
Requesting anonymity but revealing her age, the lady said she sees no difference between herself and her husband and sons in supporting the family. In conservative Afghanistan, women, traditionally, are reluctant to reveal their names. Of course, the working ladies and female students have little objection to disclosing their identities.
Driving on a congested road and striving to take the edge from male drivers to reach her destination, the ambitious lady whispered “Male drivers, especially youngsters often disturb females sitting behind the wheel.”
In Afghanistan where tribal tradition is deep-rooted, particularly in rural areas, women prefer to stay at home although they like to receive education.
Availing traditions, the extremist Taliban outfit during its iron reign, toppled by the US-led military invasion in late 2001, had outlawed education for girls and forced women to stay at home.
Before plunging into strife in the 1980s, women in Afghanistan had the right to drive. Even some women used to drive the government-owned electric buses in Kabul city. Since the collapse of the Taliban regime, the status of women has changed in Afghanistan. These days in Afghanistan women are involved in politics, business and economic development as well as art and music.
However, driving vehicles is gradually becoming more popular among women in Afghanistan. A couple of years ago, women were rarely seen to drive in Kabul or other cities, but nowadays, woman drivers attract male attention everywhere in Kabul cities.
Women are increasingly often seen sitting next to a driver and learning the skills necessary for driving.
Driving schools also provide training to females intending to learn how to drive in the capital city Kabul and in the western Herat city. “My objective of driving is to break up the old tradition and demonstrate the ability that women like men can drive and can work outside home,” the 42-year-old lady told Xinhua.
There are no legal obstructions for women to drive in Afghanistan and the traffic police issue licenses to women after examination. “Whenever my husband and my sons are out of home, I am driving, taking my girls to shopping and to the health clinic,” the progressive lady went on to say in her discussion with Xinhua while stuck in a traffic jam on a recent drive.
She also admitted that she doesn’t have a driving license but has planned to obtain one if her husband agrees.
A lady trainee, Sediqa, also told Xinhua she wants to learn to drive and drive to her university after getting her license.

News Analysis: Capture of Taliban leaders strikes major blow

Afghanistan's National Directorate for Security (NDS), the country's intelligence arm, has announced capturing two senior Taliban leaders including Anas Haqqani, son of terror czar Mawlawi Jalaludin Haqqani.
Haqqani was the founder of dreadful terror group Haqqani Network, which has been fighting Afghan and NATO-led forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Spokesman for NDS Haseeb Sediqi, in talks with reporters, said on Thursday that security personnel had arrested Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid, a senior commander of the outfit during operations in the eastern region on Tuesday night.
Afghan political observers believe that capturing senior Taliban leaders as Anas Haqqani could strike a major blow to the Taliban and the associated outfits as it demoralizes the armed insurgents.
"Certainly, the arrest of Anas Haqqani is a major setback to the Taliban militants and associated insurgents in Afghanistan," political analyst Khan Mohammad Daneshjo told Xinhua.
Daneshjo said the arrested Anas Haqqani, besides leading the propaganda machine of Taliban outfit, had also visited Gulf countries to raise fund for militants and his arrest would reduce Taliban financial resources. Haqqani network, the military wing of Taliban outfit, has been operating in the capital city Kabul, southeast and eastern region of Afghanistan and besides targeting government facilities also attack luxury hotels and restaurants frequented by Afghan and foreign dignitaries.
Languishing in the Afghan government custody, both Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid, according to the spokesman for NDS, had played important role in planning terrorist attacks including launching the deadly suicide ones to target Afghan and the NATO-led forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Anas Haqqani, according to Afghan political observers, had also played important role in strategic decision-making for the armed outfit.
Hafiz Rashid had equipped suicide bombers, chosen their targets and transported them from Pakistan's lawless tribal areas to Afghanistan for attack.
"Arresting senior militants' commanders like Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid from one hand disheartened Taliban fighters, and on the other, encourages Afghan national security forces to mount pressure on militants," renowned Afghan political analyst Jawed Kohistani said in talks with a local media the other day.
Meanwhile, Taliban outfit in a statement posted on its website confirmed the arrest but insisted Anas Haqqani had no role in politics and other activities.
According to the statement of the Taliban outfit, both Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid were arrested by Americans in Bahrain on October 12 and later had been handed over to Kabul.
"Apprehending big fishes such as Haqqani's son Anas raises the ray of hope among Afghans for having viable peace and stability," the analyst Kohistani said in talks with local media.

Iran and India’s Road to Afghanistan

by C Raja Mohan
Delhi’s decision, annonunced over the weekend, to participate in the development of the Chabahar port in Southeastern Iran has not come a day too soon.
The idea was first mooted more than a decade ago during the visit of the Iran’s president, Mohammed Khatami, as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 2003.
That it has taken so long to move on this important project underlines the fact that the UPA government failed to get its act together on critical projects involving India’s national security.
If the finance ministry refused to fund strategic projects within and beyond borders during the UPA rule, the government of Narendra Modi is eager to press ahead by resolving the inter-ministerial disputes. With Arun Jaitley in charge of both the finance and defence ministries, it has become a lot easier to ‘convince’ the bureaucrats of the finance ministry. Both Delhi and Tehran value the Chabahar port as a means to improve their geopolitical leverage vis a vis Pakistan and pursue their common interest in providing Afghanistan and Central Asia alternative routes to the Indian Ocean.
The NDA government has sanctioned nearly $85 million the construction of two berths at Chabahar and the development of a container terminal. The proposal for Chabahar port came up in the context of Pakistan’s plans to develop a greenfield port at Gwadar on Pakistan’s Makran coast with substantive financial assistance from China at the turn of the last decade. Tehran saw the Gwadar project as undermining Iran’s position as the gateway to Central Asia and decided to develop Chabahar, which is located not too far to the West from Gwadar. Delhi, which long chafed at Pakistan’s refusal to provide overland access to Afghanistan, viewed the Chabahar port as a credible alternative to gaining physical access to Afghanistan. Land-locked Kabul, whose only route to the sea is through Pakistan, welcomed the project as a way to ease its strategic dependence on Islamabad. Even the United States, which was determined to isolate Iran, chose to support the efforts by Delhi, Tehran and Kabul to develop transport corridors that improve international connectivity with Afghanistan. The importance of Chabahar project has only gone up over the last decade. Afghanistan’s strategic vulnerabilities are increasing amidst the U.S. plans to substantially reduce its military presence in Afghanistan. Meanwhile India-Pakistan relations have entered a tense phase. The hopes for normalisation of trade relations between the two countries have begun to evaporate. There is little prospect that Islamabad will agree to trilateral economic integration with India and Afghanistan. Delhi and Tehran must now sit down with the new government in Kabul to negotiate trilateral trade and transit agreements that will ensure an early realisation of all economic and strategic benefits that the Chabahar project promises.
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Pakistan: ‘Spreading hatred’: Blasphemy case registered against ASWJ leaders

The capital police have registered a blasphemy case against the leadership of the Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) for allegedly making hate speeches at a conference.
The Aabpara police have registered an FIR under section 295-A (blasphemy) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against the ASWJ leadership for “spreading sectarian hatred” during their speeches at a conference held on the death anniversary of Maulana Azam Tariq on Friday. The police have nominated a total of 14 activists in the FIR, alleging that the speakers misused loudspeakers made inflammatory speeches spreading hatred during the conference.
The ASWJ president, Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi, Secretary-General Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and others have been nominated in the FIR.
Owing to the sensitivity of the matter, it remained unclear for several hours if the case was actually registered against ASWJ leadership as the police kept denying and the organisation’s leadership and activists were unsure if a case has been registered against them. A senior police officer, requesting not to be named, however, confirmed that the case has been registered against the religious party leadership under Section 295-A and Sections 3 and 4 of the Amplifier and Loudspeaker Act.
The high-ranked police official added that the police could have used force and snatched the microphones from the speakers but refrained to avoid any confrontation before Muharram.
“We have avoided confrontation to ensure peace during and before Muharram. Our mandate is to take legal action, which we will abide by,” the official said.
The ASWJ Punjab chapter secretary information Ghulam Mustafa Baloch, meanwhile, denied the charges, saying neither such a speech took place nor the party leadership tried to hurt sentiments of any person or party through their speeches.
Baloch added that the party would soon hold a press conference to clarify its position after going through the content of the FIR. “It is correct that our leadership commented on the current situation of the country but it doesn’t fall under the blasphemy law.”
Baloch added that while the administration and the police were constantly seeking cooperation to maintain peace in Muharram, they (police) on the other hand registering cases against the party. “We are being approached for maintaining peace but it would be difficult for us to cooperate if things continue in the same manner.”
SHO Khalid Mehmood, however, denied that any such case has been lodged at the Aabpara police station.
Details of Section 195- A
295-A Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs: Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the ‘religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.

Supreme Court Of Pakistan Urged To Speed Up Appeal Case Proceedings Of Asia Bibi

The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called on Pakistan’s Supreme Court to be prompt in hearing the appeal of blasphemy convict Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children whose death sentence for “blasphemy” was upheld by the Lahore High Court earlier this week. CSW also called for proper security for Bibi, whose appeal was rejected by the Lahore High Court Thursday. Asia Bibi’s lawyers have said they will now appeal the death sentence in the Supreme Court, which is the only hope.
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Pakistan's complex relationship with Malala

by Maham Javaid
Ambiguous views of the Nobel laureate say more about Pakistanis than about her.
In 2009, when she was 11 years old, Malala Yousafzai took up the cause of the right to education for girls in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Over the next two years as Malala grew into a teenager, her ideas also gained influence. From championing girl’s education in Swat, she took upon the bigger challenge of advocating education for all children across Pakistan — and in later years even on a global scale.
Today, however, most people who consider Malala, the winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, think of an anti-terrorism icon. On October 9, 2012, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants shot Malala in the face for demanding the universal human right to education. Threats and violence have silenced even the most vocal rights activists, but Malala was unfazed. Her courage is extraordinary, but this violent act by the TTP should not have transformed her into a champion for anti-extremism. The truth is that Malala’s fight has always stood for education.
But this is just one of the many confusions regarding Malala, the youngest Nobel laureate in history. Another puzzling claim about her public role is that Pakistanis allegedly despise her. If Malala stands for the betterment of Pakistan by promoting education, the worry goes, why is she hated in her native country, as so many Pakistani and international news reports are claiming?
The truth is far more complex and has more to say about Pakistan than about Malala. First of all, the claim that she is widely hated in Pakistan is incorrect. When Malala was first nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, more than 2,000 people were asked their opinion about the nomination: 44 percent of respondents said they were pleased, while 44 percent were on the fence and only 11 percent were displeased.
Similarly, at the end of 2012, Pakistan’s Herald magazine, in partnership with DAWN, the country’s most widely circulated English newspaper, conducted a poll to determine its “Person of the Year.” Malala received the highest number of votes, 30 percent of the total, and won the award. By this point Malala had also been awarded two national awards, including the Sitara-e-Shujaat, Pakistan's third-highest civilian bravery honor.
Surveys often fail to encapsulate the sentiments of the “average Pakistani,” but they provide better evidence than the rants of Pakistan’s conservative middle class that proliferate on social media and of right-wing news anchors that crowd the airwaves on Pakistan’s national television. This is not to say that everyone in Pakistan reveres her either. There are segments in our society that regard her as worthless, there are even those who are ashamed of and angered by her. But this does not negate the large swathes of Pakistanis who stand behind her; there are many that are thankful that a young girl had the courage to live out her unselfish dream.
So what is responsible for the conflicted feelings that Malala generates in Pakistanis? To be sure, Pakistani perceptions of her changed after the TTP attack. Through no fault of her own, she was blamed for revealing to the world how powerful TTP was in certain areas of Pakistan. While some Pakistanis considered this revelation valuable and necessary, others viewed it as a national affront. Pakistani commentators accused her of shaming the country by washing its dirty linen in public. It is extraordinary that Pakistan’s urban middle class, which is so proud of its free media, objected to that same free media revealing the problems of Pakistani society.
Public outrage against Malala began to grow from there. Right-wing commentators and conservatives in the urban middle class claimed she is an agent of the West. To some degree the situation worsened after the release of her 2013 autobiography “I Am Malala.” Critics claimed that her book, which was banned by private schools across the country, proved that she was against Islamic laws and wrote like a “westerner.” In Herald’s subsequent Person of the Year poll, Malala came in third. It must be noted, however, that in the PEW research poll of 2014, 30 percent of the nation still held a favorable opinion of her activism for girls’ education, 51 percent had no opinion and only 20 percent held a negative view.
As she became more prominent and had contact with world leaders, including President Barack Obama, some Pakistanis asked why she fraternized with those responsible for drone attacks. They, of course, overlooked the fact that when Malala met Obama in the White House last year, she challenged U.S. drone policy. “Drones fuel terrorism”, she told the president face to face. This was a public statement even the most seasoned Pakistani politicians have not had the courage to make when they visit the White House.
The ultimate problem, it appears, is the inability of Pakistanis to distinguish between Malala’s brave resolve to fight for what she believes in and the Western accolades she has received for displaying this courage. The segments of Pakistani society that hate her are the ones that are willing to divorce themselves from her because their anti-West sentiments disallow them to trust her. Their base logic is that the enemy’s friend is my enemy.
In a 2013 interview with The Atlantic, Malala said that she will continue to love Pakistan even if its people hate her. If Pakistan distances itself from Malala, however, we Pakistanis will be the ones who lose yet another hero. The fact that U.S. leaders and other perceived agents of imperialism are attempting to co-opt her should not diminish her worth. In these times when heroes and heroines are few and far between, Malala is a true champion and Pakistan should hold on to her.

Pakistan charity boss Abdul Sattar Edhi 'heartbroken' after robbery

One of Pakistan's top charity leaders has told the BBC he is heartbroken after being robbed at gunpoint.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, 86, was asleep when a gang of armed men raided the Karachi slum building that serves as his residence and charity headquarters.
They made off with gold, silver and cash worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the raid early on Sunday. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari both condemned the robbery.
Mr Edhi is one of Pakistan's most revered figures and has spent a lifetime building up its largest health charity. The Edhi Foundation provides a broad range of free social services, including ambulances, orphanages and support for the elderly and disabled.
"I am heartbroken. After everything I have done, I never thought I'd be violated like this inside my own home," Mr Edhi told the BBC.
His son Faisal Edhi said: "My father is fine, but deeply saddened by this incident. He was tearful yesterday. It's not about the money or the valuables they took away. But his pride has been violated."
Many people took to social media to voice their anger at the robbery, which correspondents say is shocking despite the notoriously high crime rates in Karachi.
Mubashar Lucman, a leading presenter on the ARY News channel, said: "If a person of his stature is not safe in this country then what system are we talking about."
"It is heart breaking then what happened with our asset, our saviour, our angel.... Abdul Sattar Edhi saab," tweeted journalist Fereeha Idrees.
"Imagine what would have happened if Edhi got the Nobel Peace Prize and lost it in the robbery in his center," said another message. Many messages urged people to donate to Edhi because of the robbery, but some others questioned why so much money and valuables had been kept in his residence.
Mr Edhi said as well as some cash kept for emergencies, the money and valuables included deposits entrusted to the foundation for safekeeping.
He said the robbers had walked straight to the locker where the money and gold was kept and demanded the key. "I thought they came to ask me about the Edhi centre but they started asking me about money. I don't understand how they knew that everything was kept in the cupboard," Mr Edhi told the Express Tribune newspaper. "Please protect my Pakistan where VIPs are guarded & Philanthropist are looted & abused on gun point," he said in a tweet. Police are hunting for the robbers but have yet to make any arrests.

Bilawal’s launch
When Benazir Bhutto was pushed into the limelight after her father’s death, many people derided her as too young to handle the complexities of Pakistani politics or resist the brute force of military dictatorship. She proved them wrong, first leading alongside her mother in the 1983 Movement for the Restoration of Democracy and then assuming the mantle of prime minister, though her two terms were marked by political wrangling and her governments’ dismissals. Despite living in exile for nearly a decade following the 1999 military coup, Benazir remained committed to Pakistan and she returned in 2007 having learnt from her experience in exile. At the time many people thought the PPP was a dead party, but defying expectations she was welcomed by thousands of adoring supporters, 139 of whom were killed in an attempt on her life by a suicide bomber in Karsaaz, Karachi, where on Saturday — the seventh anniversary of the attack — her son Bilawal Bhutto led a massive rally organised by the PPP to launch his political career. It was a strong showing by a party that has suffered innumerable setbacks over the last decade, not least from its own mismanagement and political short-sightedness. Benazir was a national leader of conspicuous standing not only in Pakistan but the world, with the ability to energise her party’s ranks and gather disparate elements to her cause. That enthusiasm among the rank and file of PPP workers and supporters was missing at Bilawal’s rally, but the mass attendance showed that despite its failures and troubles, the party still has the machinery and support to mobilise people when it needs to.
Bilawal’s 90-minute speech began and ended with a call for people to again embrace ‘Bhuttoism’, the political philosophy of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that transformed the country’s politics by energising and mobilising the peasantry and working classes. In Benazir’s words, Bhuttoism meant “expenditures for health and education, labour laws that protect workers, and no corruption, nepotism or drug smuggling”. In the 1960s and 1970s Bhuttoism was a socialist philosophy focused on welfare, but after the 1980s return to democratic government, the PPP embraced the ideals of the neo-liberal economic paradigm. Its last five years in power were marked with accusations of massive corruption and incompetence and many of its social programmes remained confined to paper. The party’s leaders are wealthy feudals and businessmen and corruption and nepotism have become synonymous with its name. For many people today this is Bhuttoism’s mixed legacy and Bilawal failed to clarify whether he meant a return to the socialist Bhuttoism of his grandfather or whether he would redefine it himself. Indeed the main point of clarity in his speech was condemnation of religious and sectarian terrorism, a secular vision that currently sets the PPP apart. That alone will not be enough to overcome the shadows of the PPP’s past. While the party showed it can bring people to rallies this does not necessarily translate into electoral support. In order to win elections the party must prove that it can perform, deliver and impress the youth and a rising professional and middle class that are increasingly immune to political slogans and dynasties. Bilawal spoke extensively about his party’s development programme in Sindh and before him Aitzaz Ahsan spoke about re-energising the party with new blood, but on the ground both facts remain conspicuously absent. Which projects and what they have achieved needs to be shown, otherwise their words remain empty. Nawaz Sharif for example can point to literally concrete accomplishments, but the PPP cannot. It was even unable to contain a famine in Sindh earlier this year. Bilawal Bhutto is young but he and his party must realise that they can no longer rely on slogans and his family name. In order to remain a force in national politics, the PPP must invigorate its workers with a clear ideological direction, prove its claims with facts on the ground and reform its cadres to represent more of Pakistan’s young and competent professional class. As Aitzaz Ahsan said, this is not a time for victory slogans but of introspection.

Pakistan’s polio eradication farce

By Samia Altaf
FOLLOWING the World Health Organisation’s Inter­nal Monitoring Board (IMB) meeting some time ago, the government of Pakistan is understandably embarrassed about the review of its polio eradication efforts.
Condemnation has been quick. An editorial in this paper called polio eradication the country’s “badge of shame”, blaming the government for its “stubborn, almost criminal refusal to undertake the task at hand”.
The abject failure of the government’s efforts is undeniable, but this criticism, at least, is unfair. The task at hand was undertaken, certainly — the problem lies in how, precisely, it was undertaken. Essentially, the government and the other participants in this exercise have been performing a play, in which things look more or less right but have little actual meaning. One could call it the farce of polio eradication.
Every government for the past three decades, military or civilian of whichever party, has voiced the political will to eradicate communicable diseases including polio. Donors have consistently supported Pakistan’s efforts, providing close to $9.5 billion over the past 25 years to the vaccination programme.
In the beginning, there were some gains in controlling polio. There were over 2,000 polio cases in 1988, when the programme began — but for the past two decades vaccination coverage rates have been less than 60pc nationally, which is nowhere near enough to create the needed herd immunity for protection.
When the WHO announced its Endgame Strategy, the government made a corresponding series of correct-seeming moves. This includes following specific recommendations from the IMB itself.
A National Emergency Action Plan 2014 for Polio Eradication was prepared and, fully funded until 2018, approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council. Special task forces were put in place at the national and provincial levels, led by the prime minister in the centre and the chief ministers or chief secretaries in the provinces.
The prime minister appointed a dedicated point person — in addition to the minister of health services — to lead the overall effort. Monitoring committees of senior managers exist at the federal, provincial, district, tehsil and union council levels. Every province has a special polio control room. In addition, the emergency operation cells started in two provinces will now be expanded to cover all four. Anti-polio drives are being conducted according to schedule.
All the pieces, therefore, are in place, following precise recommendations from the highest authorities and the IMB. But none of them work. None of them are functional. No single government department has the overall responsibility of coordinating the actions of all these task forces and committees.
The many management committees themselves are unclear about their tasks — the National Task Force, for example, has not met since September 2013 — and no one is present to hold them accountable.
The 18th Amendment further confused the various actors about their tasks — the provincial and federal responsibilities remain unresolved. Under the current strategy, the district and tehsil-level actors have neither the resources nor the authority to actually make any decisions, so their involvement is largely superficial. Information sharing among the various levels of government is virtually impossible, let alone with the implementing partners.
The IMB has also fallen short in the review process it has been tasked with. In the recent meeting, the board should have asked the obvious questions raised by the government’s presentation, which described the overall objectives, general management plan and the challenges facing Pakistan. But it gave no immediate details or indications of how it would address the challenges and improve or amend its strategy though it plans to release a report by the end of this month.
Since this is a farce, part of the process is finger-pointing, a long-running blame game that can distract us from the failures. The provinces point at the centre. The centre points at the provinces. Everyone blames Dr Bosan, who, it seems, was heading the government’s technical unit for polio eradication while not actually being a government employee. Some pieces get shuttled around the board — Dr Bosan out, Dr Baloch in — and, why not, a new inter-ministerial committee is proposed.
This looks like much more activity than improving the administrative processes that would bring together the work of different government departments, or coordinating the efforts of the many different committees already on the ground.
It is much more dramatic than addressing the nitty-gritty issue of dealing with procedures that, for example, delay payments to polio staff. Unfortunately, it accomplishes almost nothing.
And so it should be no surprise that the number of polio cases continues to climb, reaching over 200, from 54 when the IMB last met, in May. Environmental surveillance shows that the frequency of detection has increased to 33pc from 20pc in 2013, and wild polio virus type 1 has been isolated from all four provinces.
As polio spreads, it becomes a humanitarian issue, so the donors feel compelled to increase their funds — in a very real sense rewarding the government for its failures. Giving more money is immediately reassuring, it looks better — and is less controversial than asking the government for specific actions to make programme structures functional and sustainable.
After all — you cannot give visibility to a procedural request. Neither the donors nor the IMB make it a point to insist on a country-specific, contextual programme design and implementation strategy. The IMB will meet again; it will offer some more suggestions; the government will likely follow them; and the cycle continues.
The best we can call this process is a farce, one that would be mildly entertaining if you could ignore the fact that it is costing not just money and time but lives and futures. Once you acknowledge that — perhaps then all we can call it is total madness.

India-Pakistan Head for Nuke War

Bruce Riedel
A crisis is brewing between nuclear armed India and Pakistan that could be their most dangerous ever.
India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947 and had several crises that went to the brink of war. Both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Now tensions are escalating between the two again.
It began in May, when a heavily armed squad of Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar e Tayyiba (Army of the Pure) attacked India’s consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan. They planned to massacre Indian diplomats on the eve of the inauguration of India’s new Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi. The consulate’s security forces killed the LeT terrorists first, preventing a crisis.
Since LeT is a proxy of Pakistan's military intelligence service known as the ISI, Indian intelligence officials assume the Herat attack was coordinated with higher-ups in Pakistan. They assume another LeT attack is only a matter of time. They are probably right on both counts.
This summer, clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops have escalated along the ceasefire line in Kashmir. Called “the Line of Control,” the Kashmiri front line has witnessed the worst exchanges of artillery and small arms fire in a decade this year, displacing hundreds of civilians on both sides. Over 20 have died in the crossfire already this month. Modi has ordered his army commanders to strike back hard at the Line of Control to demonstrate Indian resolve.
Although Modi made a big gesture in May when he invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration, since then Modi has cancelled routine diplomatic talks with Pakistan on Kashmir and signaled a tough line toward terrorism. He also appointed a very experienced intelligence chief, Ajit Doval as his National Security Adviser. Doval is known as a hard liner on terrorism—and on Pakistan.
Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party strongly criticized his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, for what it saw as a weak response to the LeT 's attack on Mumbai in 2008. No military action was taken after 10 LeT terrorists, armed and trained by the ISI, killed and wounded hundreds of innocents, including six American dead.
In 2001 a previous BJP government mobilized the Indian military for months after a Pakistan-based terror attack on the Indian parliament. The two countries were eyeball to eyeball in a tense standoff for almost a year. Two years before that, the two countries fought a war in Kashmir around the town of Kargil. In the 1999 Kargil War the Pakistani army crossed the LOC to seize mountain heights controlling a key highway in Kashmir. BJP Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee responded with air strikes and ground forces. The Indian navy prepared to blockade Karachi, Pakistan's major port and it's critical choke point for importing oil. A blockade would have rapidly cut off Pakistan from oil supplies. The Indian navy was so eager to strike it had to be restrained by the high command.
The Pakistanis began losing the fight at Kargil. Then they put their nuclear forces on high alert. President Bill Clinton pressured Nawaz Sharif (the prime minister then and now) into backing down at a crucial summit at Blair House on July 4, 1999. If Clinton had not persuaded Sharif to withdraw behind the LOC the war would have escalated further, perhaps to a nuclear exchange.
Kargil is a good paradigm for what a future crisis might look like. A BJP government is not likely to turn the other cheek. It cannot afford to let terror attacks go unpunished. That would encourage more.
The difference between the Kargil War and today is that both India and Pakistan now have far more nuclear weapons and delivery systems than 15 years ago. Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear weapons and has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. China provides Pakistan with its nuclear reactors. India has missiles that can reach all of Pakistan and even to Beijing. The escalatory ladder is far more terrifying than it was on the even of the millennium.
For retreating in 1999 Sharif was overthrown in a coup by the army commander, Pervez Musharraf, who had planned the Kargil War. Now Musharraf is calling for Sharif to stand up to Modi and not be pushed around by India. The main opposition party leader. Bilawal Bhutto, has called for a tough line defending Kashmiri Muslim rights, promising to take "every inch" of Kashmir for Pakistan if he is elected prime minister in the future. Sharif is under pressure from another party leader, Imran Khan, to resign. The politics on both sides in South Asia leave little room for compromise or dialogue.
America is seen in South Asia as a power in decline, a perception fueled by the Afghan war. U.S. influence in New Delhi and Islamabad is low. A Clinton-like intervention to halt an escalation will be a tough act to follow. But the consequences of a nuclear exchange are almost too horrible to contemplate.