Archive for ‘Pakistan News’

July 2, 2011

Crime: Rabid dogs bite two men, several animals

ISLAMABAD: 

Rabid dogs bit two persons and several animals in Bhara Kahu area on Thursday.

The residents of Kot Hathial Shumali, Malik Abid, Asad Sultan Kayani, Nosherwan and others told The Express Tribune that three rabid dogs were wandering in the area.

Although two of them had been killed but one is still roaming around freely in the area and union council staff was playing the role of a silence spectator.

They demanded of the concerned authority to take notice of the issue.

Meanwhile, the Bhara Kahu police arrested a man Babar Kazmi and seized a 30-bore pistol from his possession.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

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July 2, 2011

30 years of collaboration: A peek into a refugee’s life

Over 40 pictures detailing relief efforts and the state of refugees have been put up at Pakistan Council of the Arts. PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

ISLAMABAD: 

A photo exhibition, cataloguing more than 30 years of collaboration between UNCHR and Ministry of SAFRON in assisting Afghani refugees and internally displaced persons, opened at Pakistan National Council of the Arts on Thursday.

Federal Minister for SAFRON, Engineer Shaukatullah said in his opening address, “We recognize UNHCR’s proactive support to help Pakistan take responsibility for the uprooted populations, particularly the Afghan refugees.”

The exhibit is part of the 60th anniversary commemorations of the 1951 Refugee Convention. The six-day exhibition features more than 40 photos illustration the various phases and characteristics of UNHCR’s work in Pakistan. It also depicts the hardships and sufferings of the affected people.

The imploring eyes of the displaced and the eerie battlefield lined with refugee camps plunge the viewer into the story of those photographed. The exhibition also documents Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir in 2005, as well as Jolie’s recent visit following the 2010 floods.

Mengesha Kebede, UNHCR’s Country Representative, “Pakistan’s hosting of so many refugees and its respect for the principle of voluntary return has been in line with the  international refugee law but it has yet not signed the [1951 Refugee Convention] or its 1967 Protocol. It is high time Pakistan addressed this anomaly.”

The exhibition will remain open to the public until July 5 from 9am to 5pm throughout the week, except Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

July 2, 2011

Strengthening Peace: Kohistanis invite president to attend cultural event

A three-day Swat-Kohistan Indigenous Culture Festival “Simam”, to be held from July 11.

PESHAWAR: Kohistanis have invited President Asif Ali Zardari to attend the three-day Swat-Kohistan Indigenous Culture Festival “Simam”, to be held from July 11.

The Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBTT) sent a letter to the president, inviting him to attend the event, which will take place in Bahrain, a scenic town in Swat.

The letter says that Swat Valley was once considered the Switzerland of Pakistan. However the people fell victim to barbarism and terror after suffering from militancy and floods, both of which caused physical and psychological damage to the people of the valley, the letter said.

“The security forces were able to get rid of terrorism…. however, the local people also cooperated with the government and rendered countless sacrifices for the purpose,” the letter reads.

The prime minister and other officials regularly cite the operation as a testament to Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism, but what is missing in these statements is the cost paid by the Swatis, and whether their plight ends here or will it be prolonged as the war on terror goes on, the letter said.

“A peaceful Swat is the only successful mission in Pakistan’s war against terrorism. What we want is to make Swat an example of peace, development, beauty and pluralism, [for which we need billions of rupees in funding],” the letter added.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

July 2, 2011

Seminar: Balochistan rights package; the glass is still ‘half-empty’

Speakers call for change in Islamabad’s mindset towards province.

ISLAMABAD: 

Vague implementation mechanism and lack of true representation in the provincial assembly is rendering Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i-Balochistan package slow and ineffective in delivering on Baloch people’s longstanding demand for rights. This was observed by a majority of speakers, particularly those belonging to nationalist parties of the restive province, at a seminar on  ‘Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan Package: Status and way forward’ held here on Thursday.

“The Balochis have been given constitutional guarantee to their rights under the 18th Amendment but the laws still remain unimplemented,” said Central Vice-President National Party, Dr Ishaq Baloch.

He added that the Balochistan problem could not be resolved until the federal government accepts and respects ethnic diversity in the country and gives them a right on their resources. Blaming successive governments for continuously treating Balochistan with discrimination for decades, Baloch said ‘Federation could only be saved if the federating units were truly recognised.’

Former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Wazir Ahmed Jogazai supported him, saying the Balochistan Assembly lacks true representation due to political polarisation in the province.

He stressed the need for establishment of an independent election commission, which could hold free and fair elections to ‘replace the current provincial government which lacks integrity and legitimacy.’

Pointing to the lack of implementation mechanism of Balochistan rights package, Raza Narejo, an expert on Balochistan affairs, said the mechanism for all political, administrative and constitutional matters must be in place, and tracking implementation should also be easily accessible.

Aziz Jamali, a government official working on the package’s implementation admitted that though the pace was slow, the government had managed to provide more than 5,000 jobs to the unemployed Baloch. An increased flow of financial resources to the provincial government was also made possible.

Former federal minister from Balochistan, Ayatullah Durrani of Pakistan Peoples Party agreed with Senator Haji Adeel of Awami National Party  that the implementation of the 39-point package was slow at present.

However, both the leaders urged upon the critics to look at the ‘half full glass’ than ‘half being empty’. They pointed out that the tripling of federal financial resources for Balochistan for the fiscal 2011-2012 beginning on July 1 this year, would not have been possible without the package.

Holding the Balochi sardars and tribal chieftains responsible for the injustices to the Balochi people, Ayatullah Durrani questioned as to ‘why not a single educational institution has been constructed by Jogezai, Jamalis, Achakzais, Bugtis and Raisanis’. Some of the speakers also demanded a change in Islamabad’s ‘mindset towards Balochistan’.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

July 2, 2011

The food and colours of Japan, and defence

Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Mir Changez Khan Jamali, and Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan, Hiroshi Oe, cutting cake during a reception to mark the 57th anniversary of the Japan Self-Defence Forces Day. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: 

The hall was draped in colours of Japan and the tables adorned with scrumptious Japanese food, as guests arrived to attend a reception marking the 57th Self-Defence Forces Day of Japan.

Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, Hiroshi Oe, and his wife Midori Oe stood at the entrance receiving parliamentarians, diplomats, dignitaries, and senior civilian and military officials. Other officials of the embassy also stood in a queue welcoming everyone. Women from the embassy were dressed in kimonos.

Vice Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila was the chief guest on the occasion and Colonel Eiji Oka and Colonel Ken Asada, Defense Attaché, Embassy of Japan, represented the Japan Self-Defence Forces.

Once the hall was filled, the event began after national anthems of both the countries were played. A cake cutting ceremony was held.

Traditional Japanese bite-size snacks were served, while a table in one corner of the hall served sake, which is a traditional Japanese alcoholic drink brewed from water and rice. The drink had been specially brought from Japan for the guests. In the words of a Japanese embassy official, “No meal is complete without sake which is a part of the Japanese history and culture.” The clear fragrant drink was served in little glasses and was enjoyed by everyone.

Special sushi bar was made for the guests by Ambassador’s Thai chefs who have specially been brought to Pakistan from Thailand by the Ambassador himself.  The special tempura batter prawns were a hit with the guests. The diplomats while having dinner and their drinks were mostly conversing about the elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections and the devolution of ministries.

Everyone seemed to be conversing about the good results for Pakistan Peoples Party in AJK. “I have still to figure out what’s going on and what is going to happen,” said an ambassador. “In Pakistan it’s never what you expect or see,” he added. The event lasted for a few hours and the social gathering gave everyone an opportunity to get together, have light political discussions while enjoying Japanese cuisine.

The Self-Defence Forces Day of Japan celebrates the establishment of the Japan Defense Agency and the inauguration of the Japan Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defence Forces on July 1, 1954.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

July 2, 2011

Saddar Bairuni: Four booked for abduction of girl

RAWALPINDI: Four persons were booked including three women for abducting a girl in Saddar Bairuni area on Thursday.

Muhammad Amir, a resident of Dhoke Lakhan area of Saddar Bairuni lodged a report with the police that Naheed Akhtar, Awais, Tahira Bibi and Javeria had abducted his sister Maryam Bibi. The police registered a case against the suspects and started searching for girl.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

July 2, 2011

Disaster Preparedness: In future floods, 1122 will come to the rescue

Relief activities transferred from Civil Defence; preparations underway; some emergency staff worried. ILLUSTRATION: MOHSIN ALAM

RAWALPINDI: 

Starting this year, flood relief activities will be provided by Rescue 1122, the Punjab emergency service, after provincial authorities directed the Civil Defence Department to hand over its equipment to the former.

The office of the Civil Defence (CD) district officer has already handed over a motorboat, a recently purchased 40 horsepower engine, 16 life jackets, nine life preservers and other equipment to Rescue 1122 following a notification issued by the district coordination officer (DCO) on June 11.

The district government issued the order after the Punjab governor issued a notification on May 28, which shifted authority over all flood relief activities to Rescue 1122, except for bomb disposal which will remain the exclusive domain of the Civil Defence.

According to the governor’s notification, the decision was to be implemented with immediate effect and was taken to avoid overlaps between the functions of the two departments.

In Rawalpindi, the Civil Defence has been looking after flood and other relief activities along with other rescue department in the low-lying areas of Nullah Leh.

“As the rainy season has just set in, this changing of the guards could prove dangerous for residents of areas that are most at risk,” said Muhammad Khalil, an emergency volunteer with the CD.

He said there are over 1,500 trained volunteers with the department, and a majority of these workers were always ready to respond to emergencies, especially during the monsoon.

CD District Officer Tayyaman Raza confirmed to The Express Tribune that his office had handed over flood-relief equipment to Rescue 1122 on the directions of the DCO.

Raza said his office had also provided the rescuers with a flood management plan prepared by his office to help them cope with any emergency during the rainy season.

Sharing details of the plan, he said they had pointed out as many as 18 localities around Nullah Leh and around other drains that present a flood risk during heavy downpour.

“Now,” he added, “CD has nothing to do with flood-related activities in the city.”

Rescue 1122 District Emergency Officer Abdul Rehman said his team was ready to cope with any emergency and that the holidays of rescue staff had been put off till September 15.

Rehman said that the rescue office routinely receives updates from the Meteorological Department and the early warning system installed at the Rawal Town administration office will function 24 hours a day.

He added that the health department, police and CD would remain on alert till September and would closely monitor the situation to be prepared for any emergency.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.

For more on this issue follow: floods

July 1, 2011

PML-N files petition challenging AJK election results

The petition, filed through Advocate Raja Sadaqat, claims the polls were rigged in certain constituencies.

MUZAFFARABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Friday filed a petition in the Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) High Court challenging results of the recently held elections.

The petition, which has been filed through Advocate Raja Sadaqat, claims the polls were rigged in some constituencies. It says notice of election fraud and rigging should be taken.

The PML-N had decided to file the petition in a meeting of its parliamentary committee on Thursday.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, senior PML-N leader Khwaja Saad Rafiq had alleged that the electoral rolls were fake and only Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) voters were registered in them. He said it was the right of the political party to demand a re-poll with the original voter list.

Earlier, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had filed a petition in the AJK High Court challenging the postponement of legislative assembly elections on three Kashmir refugee seats.

July 1, 2011

NICL case: SC suspends transfer notice of investigation officer

SC says it can ask govt to ensure complete transparency.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday suspended the transfer notification of National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) investigation officer and Additional Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Zafar Ahmed Qureshi as Director General of National Police Foundation.

Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while hearing the NICL contempt of court court case, said that the government was undermining the dignity of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice made the statement after former law minister Babar Awan informed the court that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had rejected the summary for the re-appointment of Zafar Qureshi and that he was exercising his constitutional powers.

Awan said that all three federal secretaries, who had been issued contempt of court notices earlier, were part of the federation and they had done nothing in their personal capacity.

The chief justice said that the government should not have removed an “honest officer” from the investigation and the court was exercising patience even though the government was undermining the court’s dignity.

The court has asked Director General FIA to assist Zafar Qureshi and has asked for a report in 15 days.

The hearing has been adjourned for an indefinite period.

Earlier, The court had issued contempt notices to the interior secretary, the Establishment Division secretary and the Principal Secretary to the prime minister, asking them to explain why the investigating officer in the case, Zafar Qureshi, was transferred on verbal orders in the middle of his investigation.

July 1, 2011

Law and order expenses: K-P the only province to decrease security spending

Overall spending rises 18.4%, highest increase seen in Balochistan, Sindh.

ISLAMABAD: 

While overall spending on law and order by the federal and four provincial governments went up by 18.4% during the first nine months of the outgoing fiscal year, the only province that saw an actual decline in spending was Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, suggesting a slight improvement in the province that has been wracked by a Taliban insurgency.

Finance ministry statistics on government spending for the first nine months of the fiscal year show that the federal and four provincial governments spent about Rs116 billion on security and maintaining public order, about an 18.4% increase over the same period in the previous year.

Law and order spending includes expenses relating to coping with the aftermath of terrorist attacks, including compensation to the victims, dealing with internally displaced persons and the salaries and benefits of law enforcement personnel.

The government’s total spending is a fraction of the total estimated costs of the “war on terrorism”, which the finance ministry estimates has cost the country over Rs5.8 trillion ($67.9 billion) over the last decade, more than the total amount of deposits in all the banks combined.

The federal government’s public order spending rose by about 36% to Rs41 billion for the first nine months of the fiscal year ending June 30. The Sindh government’s spending in the same category rose by more than 30% to Rs21 billion. The province’s capital Karachi has become a battleground between rival ethnicity-based factions over the past several years.

The sharpest surge came in spending in Balochistan, which increased its law and order budget by 40% to Rs7 billion for the first nine months. The province has seen a rise in sectarian and militancy-related killings over the last year. Punjab’s budget, meanwhile registered a below-inflation rise of 6% to Rs36 billion during the same period.

Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was the only jurisdiction where law and order spending went down, by about 9% to reach Rs11 billion for the first nine months of fiscal year 2011.

Third quarter surge

The nine-month figures hide the tremendous surge in spending in the third quarter of the fiscal year 2011 (January to March), when law and order expenses touched Rs43 billion, or about 37% of the total for the nine months. It was also about 19.4% higher than the average of the first six months.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2011.