Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

Pakistan and England fight out thrilling draw

Sohail Abbas was in form against England as he opened the scoring with his 328th goal for his country. PHOTO: FILE

AMSTERDAM: In a fast and furious last six minutes, Pakistan lost the lead, regained and finally settled for a 2-2 draw with England at the men’s 4-Nations tournament here Wednesday.

The day’s other match – which like the England Pakistan clash had been held over from Tuesday because of a thunderstorm – saw hosts Netherlands beat arch-rivals Germany 2-1.

Pakistani legend Sohail Abbas was in form against England as he opened the scoring with his 328th goal for his country, slotting home Pakistan’s only penalty corner.

Khawaja Junaid, Pakistan manager, believes Abbas is approaching complete fitness.

“His fitness is much better than at the World Cup last December and we are focusing on getting him into perfect condition for the London Olympics,” Junaid said.

Abbas was suspended late in the match, followed immediately by Richard Smith equalizing for England.

Shakeel Abbasi scored a short-handed goal for Pakistan, two minutes from time while Abbas was still under suspension.

Barry Middleton deflected in a pass from outside the circle for England’s equalizer, seconds later.

Jason Lee, England coach, was unhappy with the result.

“We should have won comfortably as we had chances to score more goals,” Lee said.

Netherlands beat Germany in a fast flowing game, both breaking through the middle of the pitch.

Thilo Stralkowski scored for Germany in the first half.

Taeke Taekema converted a penalty stroke and Quirijn Caspers scored for Netherlands in the second half.

Paul van As, Netherlands coach and Markus Weisse, Germany coach agreed the game was a good spectacle.

“It was a fast, interesting game with a lot of action in both attacking circles,” Weisse said.

The tournament has become a round-robin competition with no final after the cancellation of Tuesday’s matches.

On Friday, Pakistan takes on Germany and England play Netherlands.

Advertisements
June 30, 2011

Failed states: Mullen underscores importance of non-military investment

Mullen says the US has chosen to renew its relationship with Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

WASHINGTON: 

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen underscored the importance of non-military investment in failing states at the launch of the Failed States Index 2011.

Pakistan is number 12 on the index.

“We cut off our relationship with Pakistan in the 1990s for twelve years because they developed nuclear weapons. We chose in this decade to renew that relationship and we’re digging ourselves out of a hole of complete mistrust and from my perspective we need that relationship because it’s an extraordinarily dangerous part of the world that is very much tied to our national interest,” Mullen said.

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

June 30, 2011

US drone wounds top militants in Somalia: Report

Officials says militants were planning operations outside of Somalia. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: A US drone fired on two senior commanders of Somalia’s Shebab insurgency after they were found to have ties to al Qaeda, the Washington Post reported late Wednesday, citing US officials.

The strike last week is believed to have wounded the two leading militants and came amid increasing concern among US officials about growing ties between Shebab and the global terror network, the Post said.

“They (Shebab fighters) have become somewhat emboldened of late and, as a result, we have become more focused on inhibiting their activities,” it quoted an official as saying. “They were planning operations outside of Somalia.”

The Post said Somalia is now the sixth country in which the United States is reportedly using drone attacks to kill suspected militants, after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen.

The US military could not immediately be reached for comment.

The official quoted by the Post said the two commanders had “direct ties” to Anwar al-Awlaqi, a charismatic American-born preacher believed to be hiding in his family’s native Yemen.

US aircraft and special forces have carried out covert attacks in the past in Somalia, but last week’s incident appeared to be the first drone strike, the Post said.

Last Thursday residents reported huge explosions near Kismayo, a southern port town controlled by Shebab, followed by the sound of aircraft.

A Shebab official in the area said his men had reported an aerial bombing raid on a Shebab base.

“The military aircraft of the enemy carried out an aerial bombardment on a base where some mujahedeen fighters were staying. Initial reports indicate several mujahedeen fighters including muhajirs (foreigners) died,” the official said, refusing to be named.

“We believe the aircraft belonged to the US,” he added.

June 30, 2011

Study finds text messages help smokers quit

Smokers are twice as likely to quit when they get text messages urging them to stick to their goal.

LONDON: Smokers are twice as likely to quit when they get text messages urging them to stick to their goal of being smoke free compared with those who receive texts with no motivational messages, a British study has found.

Experts say the “txt2stop” trial, which is the first such study to verify quit rates using biochemical testing, may offer a cheap and easy way to improve levels of health by increasing the number of people who give up smoking.

With rates of smoking rising in many developing countries and tobacco predicted to kill 8 million people a year by 2030, the researchers said their findings could be translated into a potentially powerful public health measure.

“To scale up the txt2stop intervention for delivery at a national or international level would be technically easy,” said Caroline Free of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the study and published it in The Lancet journal.

She said the scheme may need some adaptation, translation into other languages, and local evaluation before it is used in other populations, but added that it is simple, cheap and “likely to be highly cost-effective”.

Tobacco kills up to half its users and is described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced”.

It causes lung cancer, which is often fatal, and other chronic respiratory diseases. It is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, the world’s number one killers.

The texting trial randomly allocated 5,800 smokers in Britain who wanted to quit to either the txt2stop programme or to a control group who got non-motivational texts.

The motivational texts included encouragement up to the actual quit day, advice on keeping weight off while quitting, and help dealing with cravings.

The craving text, for example, said: “Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over.”

Non-motivational texts just thanked people for their participation, requested confirmation of contact details, or said a range of other things not connected to smoking.     The researchers used saliva tests to verify whether those who said they had stopped smoking had actually done so.

The results showed that those in the txt2stop group were more than twice as likely to report biochemically-verified quitting than those in the control group, with success rates of 10.7 percent and 4.9 percent respectively.

“Text messages are a very convenient way for smokers to receive support to quit,” Free said in a statement. “People described txt2stop as like having a ‘friend’ encouraging them or an ‘angel on their shoulder’. It helped people resist the temptation to smoke.”     In a commentary on the findings, Derrick Bennett and Jonathan Emberson from Britain’s Oxford University said that because of the rapid growth in both mobile phone use and smoking in some poor countries, the lessons learned from the txt2stoptrial could provide a new approach to smoking cessation campaigns in both wealthy and low-income countries.

June 30, 2011

Failed states: Mullen underscores importance of non-military investment

Mullen says the US has chosen to renew its relationship with Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

WASHINGTON: 

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen underscored the importance of non-military investment in failing states at the launch of the Failed States Index 2011.

Pakistan is number 12 on the index.

“We cut off our relationship with Pakistan in the 1990s for twelve years because they developed nuclear weapons. We chose in this decade to renew that relationship and we’re digging ourselves out of a hole of complete mistrust and from my perspective we need that relationship because it’s an extraordinarily dangerous part of the world that is very much tied to our national interest,” Mullen said.

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

June 30, 2011

Punjab govt decides to expand provincial cabinet

Chief minister Shahbaz Sharif chaired the Punjab cabinet meeting.

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Wednesday decided to expand the provincial cabinet and include new ministries.

According to sources, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the coalition members of the assembly will be given ministries – while the PML-Q’s unification bloc will not be given any ministry.

The expected new ministers in the Punjab cabinet are Yawar Zaman from Okara, Chaudhry Ayaz from Rawalpindi, Chaudhry Shafique from Rahim Yar Khan and Shahzadi Umer Tiwana from Sargodha. The cabinet may also include Zaeem Qadri from Lahore, Rana Afzal from Faisalabad and Ali Haider Noor Niazi from Mianwali.

The Punjab government also demanded the federal government to convene a session of the Council of Common Interests within a week and shift powers to the provinces, warning that it would move the Supreme Court if this did not happen.

This demand was raised during the meeting of the Punjab cabinet held in Lahore on Wednesday with chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in the chair.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters after the meeting that provinces have been handed over ordinary subjects and that the federal government has kept to itself all billion-rupee funds. Sanaullah said the government should also give other rights to the provinces besides ministries under the Concurrent List, otherwise the PML-N has every right to move the court. The provincial minister said the PML-N will also challenge the AJK elections in High Court and demand new elections with correct voters’ lists.

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: , ,
June 30, 2011

Post-election scenario: PP unification, opposition split pays off

Chaudhry formed the People’s Muslim League after his removal from the party a few months prior to the 2006 election.

MUZAFFARABAD: 

The timely reunification of People’s Party factions coupled with a split within the ruling Muslim Conference (MC) before the election led the latter to a humiliating defeat in the polls at the hands of the former.

The situation faced by the MC just a month before election was also similar to that faced by the PP before the 2006 elections, after its split into two following then  party president Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry’s decision to nominate a close friend for a Kashmir Council seat, against Benazir Bhutto’s nominee.

Chaudhry formed the People’s Muslim League after his removal from the party a few months prior to the 2006 election. As a result, the PP vote bank was divided between the two candidates and the MC, which kept itself intact, witnessed a landslide victory, with the PP only winning eight seats.

History repeats itself

The merger of Chaudhry’s party with the PP and taking former Prime Minister Sardar Yaqub into the party fold made the PP a strong contender against the Muslim League-Nawaz (ML-N) and MC.

The MC’s split into two sealed its fate. Notably, the lopsided number of seats won by the PP does not reflect the fact that the ML-N and MC candidates combined got more votes than the winning PP candidates.

This also paralleled the situation in 2006, with the PP and People’s Muslim League candidates getting far more votes between them than the winning Muslim Conference candidates.

PP also lost a few seats in this election again because the PP divided itself during the Kashmir Council elections and certain rebelling candidates contested as independents against the party’s own nominees after refusal of party ticket.

The results of the elections were in line with expectations, keeping in mind that the birth of the ML-N from the MC’s ranks, and it was also expected that the ML-N would win more seats than the MC owing to the political scenario in Pakistan and hectic electioneering by the Sharif brothers.

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

June 30, 2011

Improve governance or create more provinces 18th Amendment

Speakers urge for creation of provinces on the basis of economic and administrative viability.

ISLAMABAD: 

Creation of more provinces on the basis of economic and administrative viability will strengthen the federation and make governance easier for the respective provincial governments.

This proposal was put forward by a majority of speakers at the concluding day of a seminar on “Revisiting the 18th Constitutional Amendment”, held here on Wednesday. However, at least one of the speakers opposed the idea, asking the government to improve governance instead.

Academics, lawyers and bureaucrats gave their opinion on different aspects of the 18th Amendment at the seminar, organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) and Hanns Siedel Foundation.

“Creation of new provinces would strengthen the federation but can only be done with the consent of the units,”  Professor Razia Mussarat from Islamia University Bahawalpur said.

She added that the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have already demonstrated that they will not tolerate creation of Hazara province on the basis of Hindko language. Similarly Sindhis would not accept ethno-linguistic division of the province. In Punjab, where Bahawalpur claims provincial status — on the basis of the promise that after dissolution of the one unit its former status would be restored — could substitute the demand for separate province which was ethnic based.

She proposed that Lahore and Multan could be made provinces on the basis of their economic and administrative viability.

Quaid-i-Azam University’s Distinguished Professor of Linguistics Dr Tariq Rehman supported Prof. Mussarat’s views and said, “As long as they stay within the federation, there was nothing wrong with creating new provinces.” New provinces are being demanded to secure power, justice and equitable share in resources, he added.

However, Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy of Peshawar University opposed the creation of new provinces. He said ethnic and linguistic forces were essential elements in the provincial integration and new provinces could not be carved out merely on the basis of economic and administrative viability. “Renaming Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on ethnic basis was a blunder, as it would inspire similar aspirations in other parts of the country,” he maintained.

Suharwardy insisted that demand for new provinces was a result of poor governance. “People need easy access to atta, ghee and pulses, not new provinces.”

Barrister Shahid Hamid said, “In structuring a local government system the principle of devolution to the lowest level must be followed,” He noted that local governments have not been allowed to work. He criticized the local government systems introduced by both military dictators Zia and Musharraf as they aimed to strengthen the centre.

“A local school should be administered by a local council,” said Hamid, adding that non-party based elections of local bodies lead toward polarization and promote elite control over governance.

In his concluding remarks, Barrister Hamid also noted that among other good things that came with the 18th amendment of the constitution, the term “freely” after “minorities’ rights to exercise their religion” has been reinstated, which was deliberately omitted from the constitution by the military ruler General Ziaul Haq.

Political analyst Zafarullah Khan said, “One unit and the principle of parity is a cruel constitutional jokes for which the country had paid dearly”. He said that it was wrong to say that provinces were not ready to handle new responsibilities as this transition must be facilitated through creating a federal culture, reforming parties and strengthening provincial civil services. He said that only those projects should be undertaken at the federal level, which are supported by more than one province.

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

June 30, 2011

federal government notification for devolution of 7 ministries

The federal cabinet had earlier approved the devolution of seven ministries to the provinces but had decided to retain the ministers in an apparent move to keep the ruling coalition intact. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Thursday issued a notification for the devolution of seven ministries to provinces, with the government retaining a number of employees from the devolved ministries.

The ministries being devolved are women development, minority affairs, sports, environment, health, food and agriculture, and labour and manpower.

The notification says the transfer will come into effect from July 1. It also states that all development projects and relevant staff have been shifted to the provinces.

A number of departments of the transferred ministries will be merged with other ministries and divisions.

The Planning & Development division has been assigned to devise a national policy for environmental pollution and change, ecology, forestry, wildlife, biodiversity and desertification.

The federal cabinet had earlier approved the devolution of seven ministries to the provinces but had decided to retain the ministers in an apparent move to keep the ruling coalition intact. The devolution marks the third and final phase of the implementation of the 18th amendment and brings the total number of devolved ministries to 17.

Ten federal ministries were earlier devolved to the provinces in two separate phases on the recommendation of a high-powered parliamentary commission to ensure the implementation of the 18th amendment that envisaged more administrative and financial autonomy for the federating units.