A new study from Oxfam published just ahead of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, reported that just one percent of the world’s population controls nearly half of the planet’s wealth and 70 percent of the world’s people live in countries where income inequality has been growing in the last 30 years. In the US, the gap between rich and poor has grown faster than in any other developed country. The top one percent has captured 95 percent of all growth since the putative “recovery” of 2009. This is the “new normal.” Is it sustainable?
Barbara Garson is the author of a series of books describing American working lives at historically important turning points. If this is one of those turning points, it’s one in which the one percent have won:
“That the so-called recovery that everyone is bragging about is this,” Garson told GRITtv in a recent interview. “We’ve recovered, we’ve taken your full-time job away and given you a part-time job, and we’ve given the difference to our stockholders.”
The trouble is, this cockeyed situation is not stable, and even the capitalists, maybe especially the capitalists, should be worried.
“There are capitalist solutions, like redistribution, but they’re not doing it. That may be why we have a socialist solution this time,” she concludes. “If seventeen percent of the houses are vacant, we’ll just move into them.”
Garson’s new book is Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live. You can watch our conversation at GRITtv.org.
In buying debt so cheaply and writing it off, Occupy has revealed the illusory and circular nature of owing money
By Alex Andreou
Across the United States, 2,693 people have received a letter in the last few months, which identified a debt and read: “You are no longer under any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector, or anyone else.” This is the work of the Rolling Jubilee project – a non-profit initiative which buys personal debt for pennies on the dollar in the secondary market (where debt is sold to companies who then resell it to collection agencies) but then simply cancels it.
When the Occupy movement came into being in the summer of 2011, its critics said that a lack of identifiable objectives and strategy for achieving them meant it was doomed to fail. This was a monumental underestimation of its potential impact. Two years on, the debate about the ethics of corporate capitalism in its current form, the fairness of the remuneration of those at the top, the widening wealth gap and the morality of tax avoidance is alive and well. The concept of the “99%” is now part of the collective consciousness. All this is, in no small part, down to the fuse lit by the Occupy movement.
However, another significant aspect of the movement – dismissed as being woolly – was that it brought like-minded people together and allowed a dialogue which identified common strands. This appears to have evolved into several focused and practical initiatives. One of the most significant, and perhaps the most threatening to the status quo, is the Strike Debt group, of which the Rolling Jubilee project forms part.
The idea is that, those freed from debt and those sympathetic to the movement, then donate into the fund to keep it “rolling” forward; hence the name. The fund has already raised $600,000 and has used $400,000 of this to purchase and cancel an astonishing $14.7m of debt, primarily focusing on medical bills. This strikes at the very heart of the system, not only by using its own perverse rules against it, but critically by revealing the illusory and circular nature of debt.
Capitalism requires a layer of cheap, flexible labour to operate optimally. It is not a coincidence that the most successful global economy, by any traditional capitalist measure, is an authoritarian quasi-communist state. Many, myself included, have been arguing that our current predicament is not crisis-consequent austerity, but a permanent adjustment. David Cameron on Monday confirmed as much. The great lie, peddled by Thatcher and Reagan, was the idea that we could all be middle class, white-collar professionals within a neoliberal economy. It was simply not true.
Canadian Dollar Tumbles After Unexpected March Employment Loss
The Canadian dollar fell in its biggest decline in nine months against its U.S. peer after the nation unexpectedly lost jobs last month by the most since the last recession four years ago.
The currency declined against 13 of its 16 major peers as Canada had 54,500 fewer jobs in March, compared with the 6,500 gain predicted in the median estimate of a Bloomberg survey of 24 economists. The nation’s jobless rate increased to 7.2 percent from 7 percent. The U.S. added 88,000 jobs in March, versus estimates of a 190,000 gain. The Bank of Canada’s March 6 policy statement called for the economy to “pick up through 2013” on its way to 2 percent annual growth.
“Huge miss on both numbers, but particularly the Canadian number after many months of surprisingly strong employment data, we’ve finally seen some give back, so pretty swift reaction for the Canadian dollar,” said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign exchange at Bank of Montreal, by phone from Toronto. “There’s a lot more room for this to run, I think this is just the beginning of what could be a series of weaker employment numbers in Canada.”
The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known for the image of the C$1 coin, fell 0.5 percent to C$1.0176 at 5 p.m. in Toronto. Earlier, it fell 1.1 percent to C$1.0236 per U.S. dollar, the largest drop since June 28. One loonie buys 98.27 U.S. cents.
Canada’s benchmark 10-year government bonds rose, with yields falling four basis points or 0.04 percentage point to 1.75 percent, touching the lowest level since Dec. 11. The 1.5 percent security maturing in June 2023 rose 36 cents to C$97.68.
Crude oil, the country’s biggest export, fell 0.3 percent to $93.02 per barrel in New York, after touching its lowest point since March 7. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks fell 0.4 percent.
Canada’s jobs figures brings the labor market more in line with other parts of the economy, where output growth slowed to a 0.6 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter and inflation has lagged the central bank’s 2 percent target since May. Last month’s figures mean Canada posted a net loss of 25,700 jobs in the first three months of the year.
“It was ugly across the board, there wasn’t one redeeming feature for the Canadian employment report,” said Mark Frey, chief market strategist at Cambridge Mercantile Group, a corporate currency broker, by phone from Victoria British Columbia. “When you look at the overall employment figures for Q1 in Canada, you’re seeing a pretty bleak outlook that has turned almost on a dime from the last five months of 2012.”
A separate report showed Canada recorded its 11th straight merchandise trade deficit in February, the longest streak in at least 25 years, with the shortfall unexpectedly widening as exports of metals declined.
The deficit of C$1.02 billion ($1 billion) followed a January figure that was revised to C$746 million from C$237 million, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the string would end with a C$100 million surplus, based on the median of 21 forecasts.
“Obviously disappointment on both sides of the border,” said David Tulk, chief macro strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)’s TD Securities unit by phone from Toronto. “The labor market is sort of catching up to the wider economic backdrop that we’ve always argued is still quite subdued, so this helps a little bit.” ….
The Nanos Number
By CBC News
Each Wednesday, Nik Nanos of Nanos Research digs beneath the numbers with Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.
Recognized as one of Canada’s top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
Tune in for the Nanos Number, Wednesdays on Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, 5 to 7 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.
View past episodes below:
March 14: More Canadians see the economy getting weaker
The Nanos Number: 27, the percentage of Canadians who think the economy is getting weaker — a five-point increase in February over January. Read more and watch the full episode
March 6: Conservatives losing support
The Nanos Number: 32, the percentage national support for the Conservatives according to the latest Nanos tracking poll — the party’s lowest level in the tracking poll since August, 2009. Read more and watch the episode
Feb. 27: Canadian firms see drop in net profits
The Nanos Number: 29. That’s the percentage drop in net profits for Canadian companies over the past year, according to Statistics Canada. Should Canadians be worried? Read more and watch the episode
Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 3.1 per cent in December to $48 billion, the largest decline since May 2009 and worse than expected. ….
MQM terrorists kill Karachi organizer of National Party
Terrorists allegedly belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement gunned down a Baloch political organizer in Karachi Monday afternoon.
The victim was identified as Yaqoob Baloch, 45, Karachi Divisional organizer of the National Party. The deceased was an employee of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation and a resident of Old Golimar.
“He was at his office at Nazimabad No. 1 when the killers came there and asked him if he was Yaqoob. When he replied ‘yes’ they shot and killed him,” Hameed Baloch, Sindh organizer of the National Party said.
He said identity of the killers are not known, but suspected that they belonged to the militant M.Q.M. as the area is the party’s stronghold.
ISLAMABAD – Nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has said that Pakistan has the capability to shoot down unmanned surveillance drone aircrafts, adding that the country was facing internal threats rather than external. Talking to a private TV channel on Monday he said that they had built missile in Kahuta some 15 years ago which have the capability to shoot down drones. Dr Khan said the army has taken oath for the security of borders but what is the use of oath if violation of border continues. “Ziaul Haq was a dictator but he was a patriotic ruler… the current rulers are corrupt and robbers,” he said. Dr Khan said, “Pakistan’s defence looks very impenetrable externally, but it is vulnerable internally due to the internal situation of the country. We were hoping that the nation would focus on progress, education and industrial advancement but rulers have plundered the public property for many years.” “Even having nuclear capability, it is a wrong perception that we can not take action against the United States, England or France because we have accumulated nuclear system against India,” he said.
Courtesy: Pakistan Today
1. Anonymous source claiming PPP-led government cutting judiciary down to size by revoking the March 16, 2009 executive order on restoration of Judges . It lead to emergency late night judges meetup and judgement .
Anonymous WON !!!!
2. Anonymous Memo resulted zardari’s main opening bastman losing his job and in first day of court hearing his name added in ECL .
Today , after 6 months memo issue first came in the limelight its seems odds are even now . specially after former ISI Chief testimony in judicical commision where he confessed he didn’t investigated Mansor Ijaz claims he believed what Mansoor Ijaz was saying was’ true’ . PPP have weather the storm of Media , Judiciary who’s Chief initially said “IF ISI Chief is claiming memo is reality than we can’t simply ignore it ” now finding it really hard to declare accused traitor , and the alliance of Jihadi organization Difae Pakistan which was leading the campaign to hang ‘traitors’ President Zardari and Hussain Haqqani have failed to sustain its initial momentum.
According to Daily Times Columnist Dr. Taqi :
President Zardari not only remains in the ring but also has a realistic chance of being the one remaining standing after the 15th round — not unlike Muhammad Ali in that Manila fight. The generalissimos, on the other hand, appear to be at the end of their wits. While President Zardari might have been politically wounded, the damage on the other side is to the egos bloated by decades of illegal authority that they have become used to exercising unchecked.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has survived the last couple of months thanks to the sheer grit of President Zardari, matched only by a resolute Husain Haqqani. Clearly, both men have decided that they will sink or swim together, and rightly so. …
Read more » LUBP
By: Ahmed Makhdoom
The day this valiant, verdant and vibrant son of Mother Sindh, STOOD UP and walked tall on the streets of the capital of Sindh-Karachi with his head held high along with over a million Sindhi compatriots and, loud and clear, announced the struggle for the Freedom and Independence of Sindh, we knew that THEY, the murderers, the deep dark devil security agencies of establishment who are not letting this country to be welfare state, will not leave him alive!
After the brutal murders of thousands of Bangalis, Sindhis and Balochs by these evil forces of the history; Sindhis ought to have learnt the bitter lessons and should have get ready to protect the lives of their beloved leaders! The day we heard that this brave and courageous leader of Sindh is no more with us, we knew that it is not a natural death, we knew, at once, that the evil devils of the security establishment had silenced this roaring voice of the Sindh!
Therefore, what the medical board and post-martum / autopsy reports telling us are nothing new! Instead, tell us: “Now what the nation of Sindh is going to do?” Scream for Justice? No way! Has thousands of Balochs and Sindhis, who have been brutally massacred, got their justice! Did Zulfiqar Bhutto get justice? Did Benazir Bhutto get justice? Did Nawab Akbar Bugti get justice? Did Baalaach Marri get justice? Did Rinkal Kumar get justice? Appeals to the International Human Rights organisations, Courts of Justice and United Nations, I am Sorry to say, will never work!
Justice for Sindh in this strong centralized state of security establishment? Again, no way! All these so-called Avenues for “justice” are under the tutelage and servitude the Super Powers and these powerful nations need this sub-subservient rent a army, for their own designs! Bashir Qureshi, who gave life for the people of Sindh, will never receive justice! Justice has to be FOUGHT not asked in this security state of brutal agencies.
Marxist political advice and its discontents
By Omar Ali
Professor Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner professor of history at Trinity college. He is also a prominent left wing activist. The two roles have different requirements. Here he tries to bridge the gap.
Someone had commented on 3quarksdaily.com that this is “Another bucketload of gormless Marxist verbiage around a central anti-semitic core: forget the mountains of corpses and the decades of torture and oppression – Assad’s main crime is defined as “neoliberalism … and a practice of accommodation with both the US and Israel.”
That triggered the following comment (i have edited the original slightly for clarity) from me: The real problem with neomarxist verbiage is not double standards or selective outrage, its the unbridgeable gap between being a professor and being an actor on the ground in a civil war in a faraway country.
Vijay Prashad as a professor in a first world University may eventually contribute to changing the way X or Y issue is framed in the mind of the elite, and that in turn will eventually have some impact somewhere in actual daily politics and political struggles but those are big “eventually-s”. Some professors are OK with that and focus on doing their research and writing their books and teaching their students in the hope that their analysis will eventually “trickle down”. But that (for obvious reasons) is not very satisfying for most of us. Hence the need to suggest practical courses of action in today’s clash, to pick sides, to “organize a relief column”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your estimate of said professor’s wisdom and insight) this aspect of a professor’s work has near-zero real world relevance.
I don’t know how to fix this problem, but it does seem to be a real problem. Most right wingers are almost by definition closer to the ruling elites so maybe they dont feel the pain as much, but left wing professors are in a painful bind here..to have no opinion on proximate politics and wars seems silly, but to have an opinion that arises logically from their theoretical framework is frequently sillier, and any honest and good man may end up in Professor Prashad’s position. Its a real dilemma.
In an attempt to pre-empt misunderstandings, let me add:
1. My question is not about the details of his analysis.
2. Its about this scenario. Lets say Vijay is Vladimir Lenin. Well, in that case he is not only a theoretician (though he would like to believe that his superior understanding of theory informs his practice), he is an organizer, a rebel, a leader, a politician with day to day decision to make. Very fine nuances and very involved calculations will come into play. Many of those calculations will be very cynical. All of them will be locally bound by existing circumstances. Theory will have to give way again and again. But Vijay (probably not even in his own mind, but I don’t know him personally, so I cannot say for sure) is not Lenin. He is a professor. He does research, he writes books. He has theories. And he is part of a broader left wing academic current that has its own internal dynamics very far from the ground in Syria. I am saying I don’t expect him to say things that are too useful as guides to action.
3. What do you think?
Courtesy: Brown Pundits
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan has no justification for holding Dr Shakil Afridi, who had a role in the CIA operation to hunt down Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad.
This she said while addressing US Congress Committee. Hillary Clinton said Dr Shakil Afridi provided key information to US before the Abbotabad operation, adding that he served for the interest of both Pakistan and the US.
Clinton said Pakistan has no basis for detaining Dr Shakil.
Courtesy: The News
Attitudes are hardening in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province against the government, but the state is now belatedly reaching out to the Baloch separatists. Writer Ahmed Rashid considers whether after years of civil war, talks could end the bloodshed.
It took an obscure United States congressman holding a controversial hearing in Washington on the civil war in Balochistan to awaken the conscience of the Pakistani government, military and public.
For years the civil war in Balochistan has either been forgotten by most Pakistanis or depicted as the forces of law and order battling Baloch tribesmen, who are described as “Indian agents”.
Just a few weeks ago, Interior Minister Rehman Malik even hinted that Israel and the US were supporting the Baloch separatists, while the army had totally ”Indianised” the Baloch problem.
On 23 February, Mr Malik did an about-face, saying that the government was withdrawing all cases against Baloch leaders living in exile and asking them to return home for talks. ”I will receive them in person,” he told journalists.
Don’t expect Baloch leaders to turn the other cheek at Mr Malik’s sudden shift – the Baloch have seen too many such U-turns before.
Brahamdagh Bugti, head of the separatist Baloch Republican Party and living in exile in Geneva, remains sceptical.
His grandfather Sardar Akbar Bugti, the head of the Bugti tribe, was killed in 2006 on the orders of former President Pervez Musharraf in a massive aerial bombardment, while his sister Zamur Domki and her 12-year old daughter were gunned down in Karachi in broad daylight just in late January – allegedly by government agents.
He told journalists last week: ”I have seen this all before… I am not an optimist.” Nevertheless, for the first time in years his face appeared on every Pakistani TV channel as he and other Baloch leaders gave interviews.
PTI will shoot drones down once in power: Imran Khan
By Ferya Ilyas / Iftikhar Firdous
SWABI / KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said that those in power should be embarrassed about the ongoing drone attacks that violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and kill innocent people. Following the rally, a grenade attack injured 16 people including eight officers and women. Imran Khan expressed his deep concern over the attack, and sympathised with the victims.
At a rally in Swabi, Imran said the PTI will not let US attack Pakistan via drone strikes and will shoot their drones down. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
By Hussain Sinan
In the archipelago nation known for its beach resorts, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign after the military clashed with protesting police dissidents. ….
Read more » CSMonitor
By Saroop Ijaz
….. there were calls by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Jamaat-i-Islami and others for the shutting down of an Ahmadi place of worship (I will be in breach of law if I say ‘mosque’) in Rawalpindi. I do not want to create a false binary here and I am glad that the snooping dame is unemployed now, and commend the people who played their part in bringing that about. Nevertheless, I find it astounding that the happenings in Rawalpindi escaped the notice of our liberal ‘intelligentsia’ almost completely, at least in mainstream public discourse; hence furnishing a near identical example of partially what the television anchor was guilty of. The alternate explanation is grimmer, that being that it was not for failure to notice, but rather fear. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
A successful shutter down strike observed by Sindh Nationalists Parties, the call was given by an alliance of Sindh nationalist parties, ‘Sindh Bachayo Committee (SBC), against the 20th Constitutional Amendment draft bill which was tabled in the National (Federal) Assembly by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
In Hyderabad, the workers of Sindh Bachayo Committee took out a rally from Hyder Chowk to SP Chowk, during that the protesters clashed with the police and the same situation was occurred in Karachi when a crowd of ethnic elements (gundas) on Motor cycles tried to stop the marching Sindhiyani Tahreek activists on M.A. Jinnah road but the brave Sindhiyani Tahreek workers handled the situation … Two women activists injured. In other parts of Sindh nearly 117 workers were detained in the crackdown operation against Sindh nationalist parties by the police.
Received via email.
* Say parliament not authorised to form new provinces
By Asghar Azad
KARACHI: A complete shutter-down and wheel-jamed strike was observed in Sindh, excluding a few localities of Karachi, on Saturday.
The strike call was given by an alliance of Sindhi nationalist parties, ‘Sindh Bachayo Committee (SBC), against the 20th Constitutional Amendment bill which was tabled in the National Assembly by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and was approved for discussion. The nationalists feared the bill was aimed at dividing Sindh.
The nationalist parties, including Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Jeay Sindh Tahreek, Sindh United Party, Sindh National Front, Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party, Awami Tehreek and National People’s Party condemned the proposed amendment. Professional bodies, human rights activists and writers’ organisations had announced their full support for the shutter-down strike as no public transport was available, causing severe difficulties for commuters to carry out their day-to-day work.
A protest demonstration was held in Hyderabad while roads were also blocked at various places.
All business activities came to a grinding halt in big and small cities of the province, including Sukkur, Nawabshah, Larkana, Khairpur, Dadu, Naushahro Feroze, Moro, Faiz Ganj, Gambat, Ranipur, Rohiri, Ghotki, Pir Jo Goth, Wada Machoon, Babarlo, Therrhi, Kumb, Padedan, Thatta, Golarrchi, Choohar Jamali, Badin, Fazil Rahou, Talhar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas, Mithi, Islam Kot, Sakrand, Dolat Pur and Umer Kot.
The strike was also observed in various localities of Karachi, including Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Gadop Town, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Bhens Colony, Abdullah Goth, Pipri, Sindhi Goth, Gaghar Phattak, Chakra Goth, Bilal Colony, Gulshan-e-Mehran, Mehran Town, Bhittai Colony Korangi, Sachal Goth, Safora Goth, Mosmyat, Memon Goth, Liyari, Baloch Goth and Baloch Colony of Orangi, Malir, Maripur, Bhitiabad, Dhani Bux Khaskhekli Goth, Rashidi Goth, Razaq Abad, Peer Goth and Bin Qasim Colony.
Workers and supporters of the nationalist parties staged rallies and sit-ins at several places, including Indus and national highways, Sehwan Bypass, Khairpur Bypass, Rohiri Bypass, Larkana-Khairpur Bridge Bypass, Faiz Ganj and Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, SBC convener Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah said that the people had given their verdict against the amendment and it was not acceptable to them in any shape. He appreciated business and traders’ communities for cooperating and participating in the strike.
Talking to Daily Times, Shah said that “the makers of the 1973 constitution, though complied with the first provision of the Lahore Resolution that there would be four provinces in the new federation and did not confer any power on parliament to create new provinces, but they violated the second provision of the Lahore Resolution, which says the federal government could only be given four subjects including, defence, foreign affairs, currency and customs”.
“We can safely say that though the constitutions of 1956 and 1962 were based on total violation of the two provisions of the Lahore Resolution, the 1973 constitution fulfills the first part of the Lahore Resolution of giving protection to the unity and integrity of provinces,” he said, adding that it gave the federal government more subjects than envisaged in 1940 resolution. Shah said, “Again an attempt is being made by centralists to violate the Lahore Resolution by giving parliament the power to create more provinces.” It may be mentioned that the MQM has submitted a proposal in the National Assembly for the formation of new provinces in the country.
Courtesy: Daily Times
Husain Haqqani says he fears for his life as hearing begins into allegations he sent memo to US official warning of military coup
By Saeed Shah in Islamabad
The former Pakistani diplomat at the centre of a scandal threatening to bring down the government in Islamabad says he has become embroiled in a “witch-hunt” against democracy in Pakistan.
A judicial commission on Monday began investigating allegations that could lead to treason charges against Husain Haqqani, who resigned as ambassador to Washington following claims he was behind an anonymous memo asking for US support to stave off a military coup in Pakistan.
The case has again drawn battle lines between the civilian government and the military in Pakistan, where the generals have ruled for half its existence. Haqqani, who denies knowledge of the memo, was a key adviser to President Asif Ali Zardari.
Haqqani was summoned to Pakistan in November and has, in effect, been under house arrest since, with his travel abroad banned. He is staying at the heavily guarded official residence of the prime minister in Islamabad, afraid that religious extremists or military agents will kill him if he ventures out. He said he was there for his “personal safety and security“. Last year, militants assassinated two senior officials of the ruling Pakistan Peoples party.
“Some people want to have the right to judge the patriotism of civilians. Some have joined the witch-hunt to keep democracy weak or even get rid of it if they can,” said Haqqani, speaking to the Guardian in a worn-looking sitting room where he receives few visitors.
In Washington, where Haqqani served for nearly four years, he was lauded as one of the best-connected diplomats in town, a smooth-talking, hyperactive defender of Pakistan on American television screens and in the corridors of the US capital. He is credited by some with keeping aid money flowing and relations with the US alive as the alliance between the two countries foundered in recent years over charges that Pakistan was playing a “double-game” by secretly supporting the Taliban.
In Pakistan, however, Haqqani was persistently vilified by the military establishment and the country’s press, painted as an American stooge and a too-clever-by-half strategist for the unpopular Zardari. Many in Pakistan believe it is the president who is the real target of the “memogate” furore, although he insisted over the weekend that he was not going to quit.
Pakistan’s armed forces, used to controlling the relationship with the US, deeply resented Haqqani’s contacts and level of access in Washington. Democracy was restored in Pakistan in 2008, but the government has been shaky, with simmering tension with the military. Haqqani had advocated closer ties to the US and was a strong critic of the army’s role in politics and its policy of supporting jihadist groups, laid out in his 2005 book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military.
“I am being targeted for my views and beliefs on civil-military relations and US-Pakistan ties, not because I did anything wrong,” said Haqqani.
By Abdul Manan
LAHORE: The Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, on Saturday was prepared to refute allegations that the incumbent Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led coalition government did not respect all institutions. What he did not expect was that his stage, the annual dinner of the Lahore Bar Association (LBA), would be usurped by anti-government slogans from a charged lawyers community. …
…. Shortly after the announcement, Gilani vacated the podium and proceeded to exit the building. When Governor Khosa took the rostrum, the lawyers intensified their chants against him. Khosa tried his level best to deliver his speech despite the ruckus, but slogans of “Chief Tere Jaan Nisar Beshumar, Beshumar” (Chief Justice you have innumerable loyalists) forced him to cut short his speech.
The Lahore Bar Association, LBA President Shehzad Hassan Sheikh and Peoples Lawyers Forum Punjab President, Khurram Latif Khan Khosa were also present at the event.
At the end lawyers danced along with a hired dancer to melodies of Sheela Ke Jawani.
Read more » The Express Tribune
via » Facebook
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government and delivered an unprecedented tirade against the powerful military.
In astonishing confirmation that he fears being ousted, he angrily denied the government was subservient to the army, long considered the chief arbiter of power in Pakistan as his administration grapples with a damaging scandal.
Pressures are at boiling point over a memo, allegedly written with approval from the president, asking for US help to prevent a feared military coup after Osama bin Laden was killed in May.
Rampant speculation that President Asif Ali Zardari could be forced out of office over the scandal and illness has refused to ease, despite his return to the capital following two weeks of medical treatment in Dubai.
“I want to make it clear today that conspiracies are being hatched here to pack up the elected government,” Gilani told a gathering at the National Arts Gallery, without naming anyone.
“But we will continue to fight for the rights of people of Pakistan whether or not we remain in the government,” Gilani said, declaring himself the country’s longest serving premier, with 45 months on the job. ….
Read more » One Pakistan
An appeal to International Community – “We want to attend universities, not funerals” – Young Women of Balochistan
Below please see a letter from Young Women of Balochistan, forwarded by a friend who received it via email on Dec 10, 2011, Human Rights Day – a day commemorated around the country and dedicated to the people of Balochistan by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (See this report by Rabia Ali). Ironically and tragically, that very day, a young Baloch human rights activist, 35-year old Faisal Mengal, was gunned down in Karachi (details in this report). As Rabia Ali reports, from July 2010 to November 2011, around 300 dead bodies were found — some even of 14-year-olds, according to Tahir Hussain, Vice Chairperson of the HRCP’s Balochistan chapter. Those killed include two HRCP activists, while the number of people missing range from 5,000 to 6,000. Read on for this brief appeal by the Young Women of Balochistan…
We are young women from Balochistan, belonging to Quetta, Pishin, Mastung, Khuzdaar, Lasbella, Sibi, and Qila Saifullah.
On International Human Rights day, we want to send forward our message.
Each of us has horror stories; each of us has lived through nightmares. We want to tell you our fears.
We want to tell you that we no longer sleep at night. Because we fear the midnight knock. We don’t sleep in the day either, because when men we love go out, we don’t know if they will ever come back or not.
We want to tell you that when our loved ones ‘disappear’, we don’t know what to pray for – whether we should pray for them to come back broken, tortured and maimed, or whether to pray for their quick and painless death. We know unharmed return is not a possibility.
We fear that our daily battles for dignity within our homes and communities will be lost; that our fight for equality and progress will vanish in our fight for survival as an ethnic group.
We fear our own blindness.
We fear the Frontier Constabulary, the army, the state, and the ‘unknown assailants’ that all FIRs record. We have now started to fear ourselves. We fear that years later, when others tell us ‘We didn’t know what was happening in Balochistan’, we will not be able to accept that.
We fear we will lose our capacity to forgive.
We need you to help us fight our fears.
We ask you to help us fight for our future. A future in which the FC and the army does not rule over our lives and deaths.
We want to attend universities, not funerals.
From: Young Women of Balochistan
Courtesy » Journeys To Democracy
By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news service reports
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan will shoot down any U.S. drone that intrudes its air space per new directives, a senior Pakistani official told NBC News on Saturday.
According to the new Pakistani defense policy, “Any object entering into our air space, including U.S. drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down,” a senior Pakistani military official told NBC News.
The policy change comes just weeks after a deadly NATO attack on Pakistani military checkpoints accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Pakistani officials to order all U.S. personnel out of a remote airfield in Pakistan.
Pakistan told the U.S. to vacate Shamsi Air Base by December 11.
A senior military official from Quetta, Pakistan, confirmed to NBC News on Saturday that the evacuation of the base, used for staging classified drone flights directed against militants, “will be completed tomorrow,” according to NBC’s Fakhar ur Rehman.
Pakistan’s Frontier Corps security forces took control of the base Saturday evening after most U.S. military personnel left, Xinhua news agency reported. Civil aviation officials also moved in Saturday, Xinhua said.
Read more » MSNBC
Pakistan supply lines closure will have little effect on NATO – New supply lines via Tajikstan and Uzbekistan to NATO
Pakistan border closure will have little effect on Nato’s Afghanistan campaign
New supply lines via Tajikstan and Uzbekistan mean Islamabad will only be able to push up costs and inconvenience war effort
By Jon Boone in Kabul
Pakistan’s government once had the power to bring Nato’s war machine to a shuddering halt through its control of a key route into landlocked Afghanistan. But today it can only aspire to cause inconvenience and slightly push up the cost of a war already running at $120bn a year.
As Washington’s relationship with Islamabad soured in recent years, Nato’s logistics chiefs tried to break their reliance on Pakistan for getting enough food, fuel and other vital supplies to their troops in Afghanistan.
Such goods used to arrive almost entirely through what is known as the southern distribution network, which runs from Pakistani container ports on the Arabian Sea over road and rail links to the border towns of Torkham and Chaman.
Those two crossing points are currently closed to Nato traffic following the killing of at least 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US air strike on Saturday.
The supply line has also proved vulnerable to attack from insurgents inside Afghanistan, who have attacked convoys, blowing up dozens of fuel tankers at a time and looting goods intended for troops.
In 2008, Pakistani television showed shots of gleeful insurgents driving around in bullet proof Humvees that had literally fallen off the back of a truck. The vehicles had been en route to Afghan security forces.
Many of the lorry drivers currently stuck in Pakistan because of the closed borders have complained that they are vulnerable to Taliban attacks.
Pakistan has used its power to shut down the supply line before. Last year it did so for 10 days after Nato forces ….
Read more » guardian.co.uk
BY SADANAND DHUME
It’s not every day that an ambassador’s departure from office makes international headlines. But then Husain Haqqani, who resigned Tuesday after serving for more than three years as Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, was no garden-variety diplomat. He managed to be unapologetically pro-American, while representing one of the most anti-American places in the world.
The extraordinary circumstances of Mr. Haqqani’s departure reveal much about Pakistan’s precarious politics. He was forced to step down, reportedly under pressure from the country’s notorious intelligence agencies, amid unconfirmed allegations that he secretly sought U.S. assistance to weaken the grip of the military. His exit should …
Read more » The Wall Street Journal
By Tarek Fatah
Few leaders have emulated Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who in 1985 relinquished all of his powers and voluntarily stepped down as president of the country. At a time when African dictators, Arab Kings and Latin American generalissimos adorned themselves in bizarre military uniforms, medieval costumes and got appointed ‘life presidents’, Nyerere, known to his people simply as Mwalimu or “teacher”, quietly passed on the torch. Other Afro-Asian leaders have done the exact opposite. Notably, Mugabe, Qaddafi and the King of Saudi Arabia it seems will only leave office when the angel of death descends.
From Canada, it seems impossible to imagine that anyone at the top would ever dare to relinquish power. Whether it is the Saudi kings or Mugabe or Qaddafi, it seems in the third world, only divine intervention brings about change.
However, a quarter century later, on Monday, April 19, an echo of Nyerere’s rare statesmanship was heard and witnessed on another continent. With a simple signature, President Asif Zardari of Pakistan signed away most of his executive powers he had inherited from military predecessors to become the country’s ceremonial head of state. For 40 years military dictators who had overthrown elected governments had ruled unconstitutionally with a complicit judiciary that had legitimised their acts of treason. Zardari’s action nullified decades of damage to give Pakistan the chance for a fresh start.
In the words of columnist Raza Rumi, Pakistan “crossed a major milestone” when all of the country’s political parties — the ruling alliance and the opposition — reached a consensus on the 18th Amendment to the country’s constitution. He wrote, “The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many sceptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.”
Few years ago when Zardari was unanimously elected president by the country’s National Assembly, Senate and all members of the four provincial legislatures, he had promised that he would work to amend the country’s constitution so that no future president was able to dismiss an elected parliament or usurp power. At the time few people believed he would do what he was promising. After all, who in his right mind gives up power, willingly?
Zardari has proven all his critics wrong and in doing so has changed the course of Pakistan’s history. The man lampooned unfairly by the country’s powerful establishment — the media, the generals and the judges — as “Mr Ten Percent” has in fact given “One-Hundred-and-Ten Percent” back to the country. While the nation celebrates, still in disbelief that anyone at the top was willing to curtail their own powers, his critics in the armed forces and the judiciary are foaming with anger, unable to stop him from enshrining democracy as an immutable reality in Pakistan.
The country’s Punjab-dominated judges and generals, though smarting from this setback, still wield the power to undo this historic development. In fact, as he signed the document, President Zardari did not shy away from suggesting there may still be some generals lurking in the shadows who may stage a military coup with the backing of the judiciary.
After the signing ceremony Zardari took everyone by surprise when he said while the doors stood closed to dictators, “mishaps” could not be ruled out. Asked about the possibility of another dictatorship, he said, “I am fully confident that no dictator would dare step in now, but then, who can rule out mishaps?”
Ever the realist, the man who has witnessed the murder of his wife, the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the judicial assassination of his father-in-law, Prime Minister ZA Bhutto and two of his wife’s brothers, Zardari has seen death at close quarters and I am told he has warned the military as well the judiciary that any attempt to stage a military coup will have to contend with his dead body. “I will go down like Allende, not Nawaz Sharif,” he told a common friend and those who know him since his days at a military cadet college say the man keeps his word.
London (Press release) – World Sindhi Congress (WSC) alongside the entire Sindhi nation is deeply shocked, saddened and mourns the barbaric and inhuman murder of three young Sindhi Hindu doctors in the town of Chakk, district Shikarpuron 7th November. Dr Ashok, Dr Naresh and Dr Ajeet were gunned down and Dr Satia Paul was critically wounded when people of Bhaya tribe opened fire on them while they were working in their clinic in their native town Chakk.
The initial reports suggest that these doctors along with other Sindhi communities were taking a stand against the harassment and potential abduction and forcible conversion of Sindhi Hindu girls in Chakk. The menace of abduction, rape and forcible conversion of religious minority community girls, particularly from poor Sindhi Hindu communities in Sindh have increased exponentially in last couple of years in the atmosphere of rising religious extremism and intolerance. Scores of such events remain completely unreported because of fear of persecution by the powerful perpetrators and religious zealots. The state apparatus and those responsible for providing the security are widely seen as companion culprits in these crimes.
WSC believes that it is a systematic policy of the establishment since its inception to create an atmosphere of fear, persecution and insecurity to force Sindhi Hindus to migrate. This is in part a strategy to convert Sindhis in minority and to devoid Sindh of professional and middle class in order to suffocate its societal progress. Resulting from the fears and insecurities the Sindhi Hindus have been continuously migrating from their motherland the process has only significantly sped up in recent years.
WSC views this gruesome event as a conspiracy to send a deep and wide-ranging wave of terror among already frightened Sindhi Hindus to migrate. The perpetrators include the shameless sardar of Bhaya tribe, local police, civil administration and agencies. The criminals have attacked the secular fabric of Sindhi society, but they will fail as the entire Sindhi nation mourns the death of these three martyrs. WSC strongly demands that the culprits particularly those behind the atrocities should be brought to justice.
WSC at this saddest moment in their lives, send its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have been taken away by the evil forces of darkness. We know that nothing can lessen the pain of this loss, but let we reiterate that WSC and the entire Sindhi nation share their pain, sadness and grief, not only them but the entire secular Sindhi nation is grieving.
WSC is in contact with the UN Human Rights Council and other international human rights organisations requesting them to press upon the Pakistani government in order to investigate and stop systematically on going gross violations of human rights of religious minorities.
Three Hindu doctors gunned down on Eid, Sindh observes mourning
…. Sindh observes 3-day mourning
A three-day mourning is being observed in Sukkur and adjoining areas against the murder of three Hindu doctors in Shikarpur district, reported Express 24/7 on Tuesday.
Following the incident, the SHO of Chak police station was suspended while the head constable was arrested on the directives of SP Shikarpur Junaid Shaikh.
Ten people were also arrested in different raids on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari and Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan; however, no case has been registered so far. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
- Outgoing U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Explains Shift From Confidence in Islamabad to Tougher Tone
BY JULIAN E. BARNES AND ADAM ENTOUS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has long been seen as Pakistan’s closest friend in Washington.
He visited Islamabad 27 times since 2008 in his role as America’s top uniformed officer, cultivated a bond with the Pakistani army chief of staff and early in his tenure said he believed Pakistan was serious about plans to take on militant groups that the U.S. wanted shut down.
But in recent months, Adm. Mullen said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he concluded that the partnership approach he long had championed had fallen short and would be difficult …
Read more → THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned Washington that if the Haqqani network is attacked by the U.S, it would be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty!
- US raid on Haqqanis violation of sovereignty: Gilani
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned Washington on Tuesday that continued accusations of playing a double game in the war on militancy only risked fanning anti-Americanism in Pakistan.
Gilani, speaking in an interview, also said any unilateral military action by the United States to hunt down Haqqani network inside Pakistan would be a violation of his country’s sovereignty.
Read more: → The News
- Graham Doesn’t Rule Out Military Action Against Pakistan if No Crack Down on Extremists
WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday wouldn’t rule out U.S. military action if Pakistan’s intelligence agencies continue supporting terrorists who are attacking American forces.
Outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen last week accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of backing the Haqqani network, a terror group active in Afghanistan but based out of Pakistan who attacked the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and detonated a truck bomb that wounded scores of American soldiers.
Arguing that Pakistan has made a “tremendous miscalculation” in allowing the Haqqanis to operate without consequence, Graham said the U.S. won’t make the same mistake with Pakistan.
“The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease. I will leave it up to the experts, but if the experts believe that we need to elevate our response, they will have a lot of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill,” the South Carolina senator told “Fox News Sunday.”
White House senior adviser David Plouffe said Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with their counterparts in Pakistan last week and made the point that safe havens and support for the Haqqani Network will not be abided.
But Plouffe wouldn’t say if the U.S. would cut aid to Pakistan if it didn’t crack down on the Haqqanis.
Graham, who’s on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the relationship with Pakistan is flawed but is not spoiled to the point of abandonment. However, he did suggest that the U.S. could “reconfigure” assistance to Pakistan.
“No longer are we to designating an amount of aid to Pakistan. We’re going to have a more transactional relationship,” Graham said.
via → Siasat.pk
Are the Sindh nationalists easy target for PPP government, what the detention of Jeay Sindh Chairman Bashir Qureshi prove?
- JSQM’s 3-day strike against Qureshi’s arrest announced
SIDNH – KARACHI: Vice chairman Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) Akash Mallah on Thursday announced a three-day shutter-down strike from Friday (today) across Sindh against the arrest of his party chief Bashir Khan Qureshi.
“The strike will be peaceful,” he said while addressing a press conference along with central party leaders Dr Niaz Kalani, Sagar Burdi and Naeem Mandhro at JSQM Markaz in Hyderabad.
Mallah further said Rangers had arrested his party chairman while returning from Thatto after distributing relief goods in flood-hit areas. He claimed that the deployment of Rangers personnel in Malir, especially in the locality of Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Pipri, Sindhi Goths and Ghagar was a bias with Sindhis and a bid to press them.
Meanwhile, JSQM leader Asif Baladi said that the state was forcing them to lift arms and become a part of the violence like other parties but such bid would not be allowed to happen because their struggle was based on the non-violence policy given of GM Syed.
Sindh Save Committee Convener Jalal Mehmood Shah, Syed Shah Mohammad Shah, Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party chief Dr Qadir Magsi have strongly condemned the arrest of Qureshi and demanded his immediate release.
As soon as the news of Qureshi’s arrest spread through media, the business and social life was suspended in main cities of Sindh that included Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Larkano, Thatto, Gharo, Khairpur, Padidan, Shahdadkot, Sukkur, Daherki, Faiz Ganj, Moro, Qazi Ahmad, Sakrand and Daoor. The residents of Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Sardar Ahmad, Njeebullah, Sikandar Karim and Nazar Ali while talking to Daily Times claimed that Rangers had banned political activities in their area. They said the residents could even not take out a protest rally against load shedding. ….
Read more → Daily Times
The language of the press conference is urdu (Hindi).