Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

Bail plea of Haripur jirga men rejected Abuse case

The accused were arrested on June 12 and were on judicial remand.

A court of an additional session judge rejected the bail. A similar bail application of the three was earlier rejected by the court of judical magistrate on June 23.

The Saddar police had booked Abdul Rasheed Abbasi, Raqeeb Khan and Matloob Khan of Neelor Bala village under section 202 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code. They were allegedly part of the jirga that instigated four brothers to ‘settle scores’ with victim Shaheen’s* family.

One of the brothers, Shabbir* accused his wife Sadia* of having illicit relations with Shaheen’s son Karim* and took the matter to the jirga, who found Karim and his cousin Arshad* guilty of raping Sadia.

Shabbir and three of his brothers – Manzoor, Arsalan and Imran – went on to allegedly attack Shaheen, strip her and parade her naked through the streets of the village.

The police also charged the three jirga members with intentionally concealing the information of disrobing the victim.

The accused were arrested on June 12 and were on judicial remand in Haripur jail. Following the rejection of the first bail plea, the accused moved to the next forum of sessions court praying for release on bail. While arguing on behalf of the victim, Advocates Khurshid Azhar, Gulnaz Rasheed, Javed Sheikh and Shahid Mehbood contended that the offence was not only against a hapless poor woman but against society in general. They said that the act has left every woman feeling insecure.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.

June 30, 2011

Pakistan slated to tour India in 2012

Pakistan have been pencilled in to tour India for a full series of Test and one-day cricket matches next year. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

MUMBAI: Pakistan have been pencilled in to tour India for a full series of Test and one-day cricket matches next year, in what would be a breakthrough in relations that were hit by the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The International Cricket Council governing body’s latest Future Tours Programme shows that the two South Asian rivals could play three Tests and five one-day internationals in March and April 2012.

India is designated as the host of the series, but an ICC spokesman told AFP on Thursday that the list was provisional and indicated that the matches were likely to be played at a neutral venue.

Any series would be organised entirely by both countries’ governing bodies, he added.

No one was immediately available for comment at the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

India severed cricketing links with its neighbour after the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people and which New Delhi blamed on outlawed militants based across the border in Pakistan.

No major international cricket side has toured Pakistan since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven others.

Pakistan now plays “home” games in the United Arab Emirates, England and New Zealand.

India last played Pakistan in this year’s World Cup semi-final at Mohali, beating them in a keenly-watched encounter attended by the two countries’ prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Afterwards there were calls by players and politicians for the resumption of cricketing links, as millions of fans were missing out due to the neighbours’ strained political ties.

India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, even said that the country was ready to send its team to Pakistan, if provided full security.

The Pakistan Cricket Board welcomed Rao’s statement and said it was exploring options for playing a series at a neutral venue.

The last time Pakistan played a Test match in India was in the southern city of Bangalore in December 2007. India won the series 1-0.

Apart from the World Cup semi-final, their last one-day international on Indian soil was in November 2007 in Jaipur. Pakistan won the match but lost that series 3-2.

June 30, 2011

Region will remain unstable till Kashmir issue is resolved: Gen Wynne

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee said as long as Kashmir remains unresolved, the region will remain unstable.

ISLAMABAD: The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne said on Wednesday that as long as the Kashmir issue remains unresolved , the subcontinent region will remain unstable.

Wynne was speaking at a convocation ceremony of the National Security and War Course in Islamabad.

He said it is pivotal that India and Pakistan work to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute.

Yesterdat, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed hope that Pakistan will “leave Kashmir alone”, as it has its own share of internal problems to deal with.

In a meeting with editors of a select five Indian newspapers, he claimed that Pakistan had not done much against terrorism and needs to do more.

Singh said India is not a big player in Pakistan – but whatever its role-engagement is a commitment to our shared geography.

Today, General Wynne also added that Pakistan’s armed forces have taken up the challenge to combat terrorism.

June 30, 2011

Google goes social with Facebook rival

We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software: Google’s senior vice president.

WASHINGTON: Google, the king of Internet search but a bust on the social front, launched its rival to Facebook on Tuesday, a social networking service called Google+.

“Online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it,” Google’s senior vice president for engineering Vic Gundotra said in a blog post about the long-awaited social networking initiative from the Internet giant.

Unveiling Google+, Gundotra stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different “Circles,” or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.

“We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software,” he said. “We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships and your interests.”

One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook Groups.

“Not all relationships are created equal,” Gundotra said. “So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss.

“The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food – wrapping everyone in ‘friend’ paper – and sharing really suffers,” he said.

Google+, located at plus.google.com, is currently being tested by a small number of people or is available by invitation only.

But Google said in a message on the site that it “won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone.”

Google unveiled several new tools integrated into Google+, including “Hangouts,” which allows for video chatting among friends, “Mobile” for location-sharing and “Huddle” for group text messaging.

Photos and video can be uploaded and shared among Circles using a feature known as “Instant Upload,” while an online sharing engine called “Sparks” delivers content from the Web into a user’s feed.

Google dominates Internet search but the Mountain View, California, company has failed to make inroads on the social networking front, where Facebook has accumulated nearly 700 million users and Twitter around 200 million.

Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, speaking at the AllThingsD technology conference last month, took responsibility for the company missing the wave when it came to making services social, saying “I screwed up.”

Google’s last major foray into social networking – Google Buzz, launched in February 2010 – spawned a slew of privacy complaints and led to a slap on the wrist from the US Federal Trade Commission.

Under a settlement between the US regulator and Google announced in March, Google is required to implement a comprehensive privacy program and will be subject to independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years.

Google+ makes its debut as Google and Facebook wage a fierce battle over online advertising dollars and how people navigate the Internet.

Google does not send people to Facebook and vice versa, and both companies are seeking to become the chief gateway to the Internet.

In May, Facebook was left red-faced after acknowledging it had hired a prominent public relations firm to draw attention to privacy practices at Google.

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of technology blog SearchEngineLand.com, said in a blog post it was “anyone’s guess” as to whether Google+ would be successful.

“If you’re happy using Facebook, there seems relatively little to make you want to switch over to Google Plus, at the moment,” said Sullivan, who received an early glimpse of the new service from Google.

“Perhaps if there are people who want a Facebook alternative, Google’s now got a core to build on for them.”

June 30, 2011

ICC bans government involvement in cricket boards

The reform will be hugely controversial in Pakistan, where the president is the cricket board’s patron. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

HONG KONG: Cricket’s governing body on Thursday banned countries from appointing politicians to national cricket boards, vowing to free the sport from undue government influence.

The International Cricket Council told a media conference in Hong Kong that it had made the decision to uphold “the important principle of free elections and the independence” of the sport.

“It was agreed that all member boards must implement the provisions before annual conference June 2012 and a further 12 months – to June 2013 – would be allowed before any sanctions be considered,” the ICC said in a statement issued in Hong Kong.

The reform, which allows the ICC to suspend a member country in the event of government interference in the running of a national cricket board, will be hugely controversial in Pakistan, where the president is the cricket board’s patron. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will also be hit by the change.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could not immediately be reached for comment.
Chairman Ijaz Butt has been criticised by former players, politicians and media for being a political appointee of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

The PCB has already sent a legal notice to the ICC on the amendment and has threatened legal action if the constitution is changed.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the ICC’s full council after four days of talks between the chief executives’ committee and executive board at glitzy hotels in downtown Hong Kong.

“This is a significant step towards achieving best practice and together with the independent governance review, I am excited by the commitment of the ICC to introduce best possible corporate governance,” ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said.

June 30, 2011

Cities facing up to 12 hours of loadshedding

Demonstrators in Peshawar block GT road to protest prolonged power outages and over-billing.

Urban areas of Punjab, including Lahore, Gujranwala and Sargodha, are facing 12 to 16 hours of loadshedding, while villages are facing up to 18 hours.

Industrial areas of Faisalabad are also facing 10 to 12 hours of loadshedding. Over in interior Sindh, areas including Hyderabad and Sukkur are experiencing 16 hours of loadshedding. The duration of loadshedding has hit 20 hours in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Prolonged and frequent power cuts have also triggered severe water shortages in several areas.

Protests in Peshawar

Protesters in Peshawar blocked GT Road against prolonged power outages and over-billing. The duration of loadshedding has increased up to 20 hours in Tarnab, Armor and adjoining areas while people also complain about inflated bills.

The protesters blocked GT Road in the Tarnab area and raised slogans against PESCO. The protesters claimed that PESCO metre readers are charging them extra electricity units in monthly bills, and that they are refusing to correct them upon lodging complaints.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully after an hour.

June 30, 2011

Hajj scam Supreme Court issues notices to respondents in Kazmi’s bail request

Earlier his bail application was rejected by the Islamabad High Court. PHOTO: INP

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to respondents in the bail application filed by the former Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi.

A two member bench comprising of Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Jawad S Khwaja heard the case and adjourned the hearings while issuing notices to the respondents.

Earlier his bail application was rejected by the Islamabad High Court.

The former religious affairs minister faces charges of corruption in the Hajj arrangements and the trial is currently underway.

June 30, 2011

Increasing literacy: Quality education for Baloch youth top priority

PPAF launches Rs250 million programme to improve education in the restive province. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) has launched a comprehensive quality education programme for the youth of Balochistan at a cost of Rs250 million. The programme, which aims to increase literacy in the province, has been initiated in Kharan, Khuzdar, Musa Khel, Jhal Magsi, Kohlu, Awaran and Panjgur districts.

Over 12,000 students are enrolled in different schools under the programme. Out of these students, 7,700 are males and 4,400 are females.

PPAF has also established 31 community schools so far, while it has adopted 145 public schools and provided water, furniture, repair, renovation, teachers’ training and activation of school management committees in these districts. Similarly, the institution is providing financial support for fees, books, uniforms and stationery to over 3,000 students under the Chamalang Education Programme in Kohlu district.

The organisation has also arranged regular trips for students as a part of its initiative to expose these students to the diverse culture of the country. Currently 80 students from grade five to twelve are visiting Fort Munro, Ghazi Ghat Bridge in Multan, historical landmarks in Lahore, Military College Jhelum and Mangla Power House and Water Sports Club under the programme.

PPAF, a private sector institution, is one of the most prominent institutions working for development in the country and the largest source of pro-poor spending excluding Public Sector Development Programme. The organisation enjoys the support of Government of Pakistan, World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, USAID, KfW (a German government-owned development bank) and the US Corporate Sector.

The institution’s outreach extends all over the country and its development programmes have been widely recognised. PPAF has received a positive response from donors as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.

June 30, 2011

AJK elections: Massive protest against alleged rigging

Protesters threaten to block Mangla road if re-polling is not held in two days.

MIRPUR: 

Protestors have given a two-day ultimatum to the AJK administration to ensure re-polls at certain constituencies where they allege the results were rigged.

The recent Legislative Assembly elections on the 26th were marred by disorder and blatant disregard for the sanctity of the electoral institution, as numerous media reports highlighting the rigging of results and shady procedural practices at polling stations all over AJK and Pakistan came to the fore.

While the protest at Shaheed Chowk in Mirpur lasted no more than two hours and remained peaceful, they threatened to block Mangla Road and march to Islamabad if their demand for fresh polls is not accepted within two days.

Around 4,000 protesters, mostly from the LA-2, LA-3 and LA-4 constituencies of Mirpur, led by Muslim Conference candidate Chaudhary Ashraf and Chaudhary Ruksar, the husband of independent candidate Aveena Rukhsar, were assembled at Shaheen Chowk.

Chaudhary Ashraf alleged that PPP candidate Barrister Sultan had rigged the results by switching ballot boxes. He cited the fact that the total count of the presiding officers showed him to be the winner. However, by the time the ballot boxes reached the returning officer, the vote count was against him. Chaudhary Rukhsar levelled similar allegations against PP candidates in his constituency as well, while threatening of repercussions if corrective measures were not taken. The protest had a strong democratic flavour to it with a few people identifying themselves as PP workers also coming out to protest against their own candidate and winner Barrister Sultan.

Strangely enough, the Muslim League-Nawaz and MQM were nowhere to be seen, even though both also made allegations of rigging. It would appear that a re-poll would be the natural conclusion, simply because all four parties including the Muslim Conference and even the PP have had several of their members highlight unfair practices during the polls.

The brouhaha over the AJK elections could become a point of vulnerability in Pakistan’s foreign policy with India, as the Pakistani government repeatedly accused India of rigging the elections in Indian Kashmir and called the entire process a “sham”.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.

June 30, 2011

US, Pakistan ‘need each other’: Gates

US Defense Secretary says it is critical for the US to maintain ties with Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert M Gates said on Thursday that it was critical for the United States to maintain ties with Pakistan despite growing anti-Americanism in the Pakistani military and the worst relationship between the two countries in years.

Gates was speaking during a news conference along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StafF Admiral Mike Mullen.

“The long history of the US-Pakistani relationship has had its ebbs and flows,” said Gates. “We need each other, and we need each other more than just in the context of Afghanistan.”

Gates declined to say that the was “winning” the war, despite US claims of recent military gains. “I have learned a few things in four and a half years, and one of them is to try to stay away from loaded words like ‘winning’ and ‘losing,’ ” he said. “Our military operations are being successful in denying the Taliban control of populated areas, degrading their capabilities and improving the capabilities of the Afghan national security forces.”

Both Gates and Mullen deflected a question on whether they were concerned that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani might be in danger of losing his position.

Pakistan-US ties reached their lowest point in recent history after American Seals conducted a unilateral raid in Abbottabad to kill al Qaeda’s chief Osama Bin Laden.

Tags: , ,