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Parliament cannot discuss SC judges’ conduct: SC

Supreme Court has said PAC cannot carry out audit of apex judiciary as per Article 58.

According to a report presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday morning three existing and twelve retired judges of the Supreme Court received two residential plots each worth millions of rupees in expensive sectors of the federal capital.

The Supreme Court (SC) refused to provide audit report details to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) saying the Parliament cannot review judges conduct.

This was said in a reply written by Registrar Supreme Court to the Chairman Public Accounts Committee with the consent of full court bench of the Supreme Court in which it is mentioned that constitution prohibits PAC to call any official including Registrar of the apex judiciary, however President, being head of the state has the authority to decide about the consultative sphere of the Supreme Court, so the committee should consult President of Pakistan

If the committee is interested in a formal court order, it should approach the president , the letter said

The letter referred to Article 68 which said: “No discussion shall take place in [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties”.

It is worth mentioning here that on the orders of former Chairman PAC Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, a letter was written to the Registrar Supreme Court for presenting its accounts before the committee, however it was not dispatched at that time. But new chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan ordered to dispatch it.

Courtesy: Dunya News Tv

http://dunyanews.tv/index.php?key=Q2F0SUQ9MiNOaWQ9ODgxMzc=

Via – twitter

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More detials » BBC urdu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/07/120703_pac_judges_sa.shtml

One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

Whenever some of our preconceived myths are shattered by a stark, unyielding and yet truthful reality, we tend to revert to denial and a refusal to face up to the facts as they are

The Supreme Court’s short order in the Arsalan Iftikhar case absolving the Honourable Chief Justice (CJ) without any investigation or examination of any evidence in the underlying imbroglio is premature. It is in fact contradicted by the Supreme Court’s own statement in this order: “…the Supreme Court (SC)…cannot judge the guilt or innocence of the parties without evidence or trial…” So how is this ruling not applicable to the CJ, who is so intertwined in this scandal being the father of one of the main suspects, and whose judicial power is at the heart of this corruption scandal?

This is in way to imply that the CJ is guilty but there cannot be an exemption from inquiry and investigation along with other participants and witnesses, for possible criminal violations based just on mere words of one of the parties. Who is Malik Riaz to give a clean bill of health to the CJ? It is strange that the SC is relying on the good word of Malik Riaz whom the former considers to be an accused fit to be prosecuted for some serious criminal offences under Pakistan’s criminal laws.

To contend that the media is maligning the judiciary by highlighting this scandal is to blame the messenger and not the message. Let us not be sidetracked, for now at least, by corruption in the media, which no doubt prevails, but which is less important than the imperative of our judiciary to have an unassailable reputation and an image above reproach. Conducting a thorough probe or inquiry of all those allegedly involved, including the Honourable CJ, will clear rather than tarnish the judiciary’s reputation and remove the dark clouds hanging over our most esteemed institution.

The nation has a right to know answers to such vital questions as how long the CJ knew about his son’s involvement with Malik Riaz and how many meetings the CJ had with Malik Riaz before the matter was seized through a suo motu action. The only other acceptable alternative to such an inquiry would be for the CJ to quit honourably in the larger interests of the judiciary and the country.

Continue reading One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

PPP power show at Kamu Shaheed near Sindh-Punjab border

Congratulation to Sindh Chief Minister on PPP Rally.

12 May 2012: Delaware(USA), Millions of Pakistanis (estimated to be two millions) belonging to Sindh, Sarikistan, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and other areas of Pakistan gathered in Ghotki, Sindh, to express their support for democracy, in particular for the Pakistan Peoples Party and its leaders President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Today’s public rally at Kamon Shaheed area on the Sindh-Punjab border is estimated to be one of the largest in Pakistan’s political history. The total number of people in today’s rally is estimated to be several times larger than other similar rallies organized by other political parties .

The leaders PPP USA, Shafqat Tanweer President, Mian Basharat Yousaf Chief Organizer, Shoukat Ali Bhutta Secretary General, Syed Iftikhar Zaidi Senior Vice President, Zafar Iqbal Chattha, Co ordinator Jahingeer Buttar Finance Secretary and Masood Zakria Choudhary Add’l Secretary General,PPP USA. Congratulate Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah and PPP Leadership for this rally.

Jeay Bhutto, Jeay BiBi, PPP Zindabad.

Taliban are generating funds through bank robberies, protection rackets and kidnappings – BBC

Taliban’s brisk trade of kidnapping in Karachi

In Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, police say the Taliban are generating funds through bank robberies, protection rackets and kidnappings.

Abductions are particularly lucrative, with ransom demands sometimes running to millions of dollars. The BBC’s Orla Guerin reports on how the militants are making inroads in Pakistan’s financial capital.

When the doctor had a gun put to his head by a man on motorbike in the evening traffic last month, he thought it was a robbery. He readily handed over his mobile phone and his wallet.

But when he was forced from his car, he realised that he was the prize. A routine journey to his clinic ended with imprisonment in a Taliban hideout.

“They blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back. I was kept in a small space, with a low roof, but they gave me food and a pillow to rest on,” said the softly spoken father of four. For security reasons, we are not revealing his identity. ….

Read more » BBC

Sufism [Sindhyat/ Humanity] binds millions of hearts in subcontinent: Abida Parveen

Sufi legend Abida Parveen, who is on a trip to New Delhi for the Jahan-e-Khusrau festival said Sufism binds millions of people in the subcontinent and that the forthcoming festival is an effort to create a spiritual mood. The 10th edition of the three-day festival starts March 2 in New Delhi at Humayun’s Tomb. “Sufism has evolved from the beginning of this universe. It bridges the gap between the hearts. This festival brings different colours together. This is a message from heart to heart. This is an effort to create a spiritual context for the common people,” she said. Organised by the Rumi foundation and designed and directed by filmmaker-painter Muzaffar Ali, the three-day festival was announced by Ali and Abida Parveen and Sharmila Tagore-members of the Rumi Foundation. Parveen had been a part of the festival since its beginning, but couldn’t attend the festival last year due to health reasons. Jahan-e-Khusrau 2012 will see performances by Abida Parveen, Ali Zafar, Hans Raj Hans, Andrea Griminelli (Italian flautist) and will also introduce new faces like Indra Naik, Vidhi Sharma, Rajesh Pandey, Vidhi Lal, and Shivani Varma. Reminiscing on her long association with the festival, Parveen said that whenever she comes to perform for Jahan e Khusrau “an extraordinary noorani (blissful) process begins. The Rumi Foundation knows how to collect different colours and create an atmosphere which is so pure and durgahi that no difference is felt between the one who’s singing and the one who’s listening. Even if one person gets attached with the Sufi saints in such an atmosphere, it’s enough to break all barriers of faith and territorial boundaries,” she said. “Tasawuf (a Sufi term that means focusing on one’s relationship with God) is God’s name. We don’t need any language or identity to understand Allah,” added the singer. Celebrating 10th year of Jahan-e-Khusrau, Muzaffar Ali maintained that the journey of Jahan e Khusrau began with the thought of bringing all pure souls together on one platform in Delhi, a city of great souls and saints. Over the last decade, Jahan e Khusrau has presented rare poetry of the mystics of the sub-continent. It has showcased Sufi singers, dancers and musicians, including Azam Ali, Masood Habibi, Shubha Mudgal, Shafqat Ali Khan, Shubjaat Hussain Khan to introducing fresh promising talent such as Zila Khan, Archana Shah, Indira Naik and Rajesh Pandey among others.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today

Defence of Pakistan Council – Pakistan’s finest are at it again, but why?

By: Omar

Pakistan’s finest are at it again, but why?

The “defence of Pakistan” council has held several public meetings (each probably costing millions of rupees) in different parts of the country and is now headed for a “mother of all jalsas” at Karachi on Feb 12th. All the usual suspects are there. Jamat ud Dawa (reincarnation of the blessed Lashkar e Tyaba of Mumbai atrocity fame) is leading the way, but  everyone who is anyone is there. Sheeda Tully is there (He was Musharraf’s railway minister and helped to run it into the ground, after having held several other ministries, his farmhouse was famously listed as a gathering spot for Kashmiri Jihadis in the 1990s). Zia ul Haq’s son, Ejaz ul Haq is there. Hamid Gul is there.
But why?

Why has military intelligence, in its infinite wisdom, activated every zombie from the good old days of the Kashmir Jihad?
Is it to get more money out of Uncle Sam? That particular ATM may be out of cash right now, so its probably not that.
Is it because the bloody civilians may actually be able to do shocking things like start normal trade with India? so what? what is the threat here?

Is it something to do with the ongoing bumbling “get Zardari operation”.

Is it because the army has split into factions and the jihadi faction is trying to embarrass the mercenary faction?

Come on hive mind, answers please.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

Millions at risk in Sindh

Millions at risk: Pakistan needs to own this crisis and then seek aid says WFP

By Azam Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to own this crisis and then get the attention of the international community, stressed the World Food Programme’s Ramiro Lopes da Silva on Monday, while warning that millions of lives are at stake in Sindh unless more attention is paid to mobilising resources.

The situation is alarming but hasn’t received the attention it deserves, the deputy executive director remarked at a press briefing on Monday. …

Read more → The Express Tribune

Sluggish Response to Sindh Flood Victims – Oxfam Warns of Second Disaster

– Sluggish donor response to Pakistan floods is another disaster in the making: Oxfam

Islamabad – International aid agency Oxfam expressed alarm over the floods in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, as only $1.30 has been committed per person by international donors in the first 10 days of the UN appeal as opposed to $3.20 committed in the same period during last year’s floods.

Oxfam calls on the Government of Pakistan and the international donor community to dig deep into their resources and rapidly increase their funding to prevent the disaster from deteriorating further. The agency warns that the situation of millions of people in Sindh and Balochistan will worsen unless more aid arrives.

According to the latest figures, more than 8.8 million people in Sindh and 14,000 people in Balochistan so far have been affected by the 2011 monsoon rains. The human impact of this disaster in terms of the number of people affected is more than the combined impact of the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan earthquake of 2005. Reported losses are being estimated at $215 million, and that number is likely to increase as some areas are inaccessible, and the impact of the floods cannot be assessed. ….

Read more → Aboard the Democracy Train

MQM in the way of plot against Pakistan: Altaf

– By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

Excerpt;

…. The gist of the press conference was that Western powers were plotting the dismemberment of Pakistan, but the Muttahida had resolved to foil the design.

Repeated assurances were made to the armed forces, the Inter-Services Intelligence as well as the nation that the MQM was against conspiracies being hatched against the country.

Mr Hussain chose not to answer the serious allegations levelled by former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza against him and his party over the past fortnight, parrying a number of questions by reporters.

He concentrated on showing documents, maps and reports from the international media to strengthen his contention that international powers were working for the break-up of Pakistan.

Although he refused to pinpoint the international powers he was referring to, an allusion left no doubt: “The country which has the biggest influence in Pakistan is behind such conspiracies”. The MQM cannot fight such powers alone, Mr Hussain added. “There would have been no super power had the army, the ISI and the MQM got united.”

The MQM supremo accused the leadership of the Awami National Party of “misleading the Pukhtoons living in Karachi and Peshawar”. He even went to the extent of claiming that the United States had given millions of dollars to Asfandyar Wali for contesting the 2008 general election. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

SINDH: MONSOON RAINS AFFECT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, UN LAUNCHES HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

– PAKISTAN: MONSOON RAINS AFFECT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, UN LAUNCHES HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Press release – (Islamabad/Geneva/New York: 10 September 2011): Torrential monsoon rains have pounded southern Pakistan, triggering serious flooding affecting more than 5 million people, among them communities still recovering from last year’s extraordinary floods. The disaster has reportedly taken the lives of 199 people, and destroyed or damaged nearly one million houses, and flooded 4.2 million acres of land, prompting the Government of Pakistan to call for support from the United Nations.

The situation for those impacted by recent monsoons and subsequent floods is critical, with thousands of people in need of life-saving assistance due to the lack of food and safe drinking water and the loss of livelihoods and homes. In response the United Nations and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) undertook a joint field mission to see first hand the devastation and damage caused by fresh flooding. The NDMA Chairman and UN Humanitarian Coordinator held discussions with the Sindh Governor and Chief Minister. The joint mission team visited Thatta, Badin, T.M. Khan and Hyderabad districts, where they met with district officials and families displaced by floods. During the visit the Chairman and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator gained first hand information about the impact of the floods, which has made possible a rapid launch of the relief effort by the United Nations and other humanitarian partners to support the ongoing national relief efforts.

Continue reading SINDH: MONSOON RAINS AFFECT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, UN LAUNCHES HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

ANP leaders being paid by US to win polls: Altaf

SINDH – KARACHI: MQM Chief Altaf Hussain has addressed his supporters and the media in a televised press conference.

He had said that there are various conspiracies at work that want to harm Pakistan and that he would make a number of important revelations. He said that he may not be able to have another chance to make a speech.

Altaf Hussain commiserated with people who had lost their loved ones during the violence that has engulfed Karachi.

He said that a number of MQM workers have been targeted in Karachi and that many of them had been subjected to torture before being murdered. Altaf Hussain said that his party workers had been ruthlessly killed.

Altaf Hussain also accused the Peoples Aman Committee of being involved in the gang warfare taking place in Lyari and of being responsible for target killings in Karachi.

The MQM chief said that he is not the enemy of Pashtuns and paid tribute to political figures such as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

He said that the MQM had always stood against feudalism in Pakistan and that he opposed the exploitation of the resources of the country.

Altaf Hussain also said that anti-state elements want to dismember Pakistan and accused ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan of being on the payroll of the Americans and that he had been given millions of dollars by the United States to win elections.

He also accused other politicians in Pakistan of following orders that were given to them by America.

MQM leader Altaf Hussain also accused the ANP of misleading its workers in Karachi. He said that the PPP and PML-N have both failed to live up to the Charter of Democracy agreement that was signed between the two political parties.

Altaf Hussain said that the PML-N was in possession of a large cache of weapons in Punjab.

The MQM chief also said that former prime minister and PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif withdrew forces from Kargil after being told to do so by the United States. …..

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Link → http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/09/mqm-chief-altaf-hussain-addresses-supporters.html

Fox News – Ghulam Nabi Fai arrested by FBI for spying for ISI/ Pak

FBI: Pakistani Spies Spent Millions Lobbying U.S.

WASHINGTON – For years, the Pakistani spy agency funneled millions of dollars to a Washington nonprofit group in a secret effort to influence Congress and the White House, the Justice Department said Tuesday in court documents that are certain to complicate already strained relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.

FBI agents arrested Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, the executive director of the Kashmiri American Council, on Tuesday and charged him with being an unregistered agent of a foreign government. Under the supervision of a senior member of Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, Fai donated money to political campaigns, wrote newspaper op-eds, organized congressional trips and met with White House and State Department officials.

Read more: → Fox News

Who will blink first?

– U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid

By ERIC SCHMITT and JANE PERLEZ

Excerpt;

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.  …
….

And some is assistance like the reimbursements for troop costs, which is being reviewed in light of questions about Pakistan’s commitment to carry out counterterrorism operations. For example, the United States recently provided Pakistan with information about suspected bomb-making factories, only to have the insurgents vanish before Pakistani security forces arrived a few days later.

“When it comes to our military aid,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee last month “we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken.” …

…. Comments last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also reflected a potentially more confrontational approach to Pakistan. Admiral Mullen, who is retiring in two months, became the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan of ordering the kidnapping, torture and death of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, whose mutilated body was found in early June. …

To read complete article → THE NEW YORK TIMES

Abdul Qadeer accuses Pakistani military figures of accepting bribes from North Korea

The nuclear scientist considered the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb has claimed that North Korea gave millions of dollars in bribes to senior military figures in exchange for weapons secrets.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

Abdul Qadeer Khan signed a confession in 2004 admitting that he had handed classified information to Iran, Libya and North Korea but his supporters have long claimed he was made a scapegoat by a government which cast him as a rogue operator.

Now documents passed to a US nuclear weapons analyst by Dr Khan suggest that high-level Pakistani military officials knew about – and personally profited from – his sales of nuclear weapons technology.

In a written statement, Dr Khan describes helping transfer more than $3m to senior officers, delivering the cash in a canvas bag and cartons, including one in which it was hidden under fruit.

The revelations, which have been denied by Pakistani officials, will only heighten already difficult relations between Islamabad and Washington. …

Read more →  telegraph.co.uk

Press: In chains of another kind

by Waseem Altaf

Excerpt:

Two great champions of Islam with prominent beards, …, received Rs. 0.3 and Rs. 3.3 million each. In vernacular terminology, all the maal-e haram was received as maal-e-halal.

The yaum-e-shuhada ceremony held at GHQ has been consistently aired on various TV channels to reinvigorate those special feelings of the ordinary people towards the special khakis, with …. dedicating everything she has got to the shaheeds in general and ghazis in particular. On 9th May 2011, a quarter page advertisement in color appeared on the front page of daily “Jang” on behalf of veteran politician Haji …., currently running a Qabza group in Rawalpindi, and Islamabad. The ad read that all those ridiculing the army and the ISI were following the agenda of the enemies of Pakistan. The ad contained basic mistakes but had cost millions.

On 11th May 2011 a rally was organized in front of the parliament in Islamabad in support of the army and the ISI in which some children from government schools and a few workers of Capital Development Authority(CDA) carried placards and raised slogans in favor of the army and the ISI. The rally began at a time when Mian Nawaz Sharif was about to announce his party’s stand on the Abbotabad incident and ended when Nawaz Sharif ended his press conference. Interestingly the children did not know why they were brought to the venue and the leader of the rally a labor leader of CDA ….  said that he himself arranged the rally. Some of the slogans written on the placards were” We love ISI” “Pak army zindabad” and “ISI zindabad”

…, Haji … and children of a model school chanting slogans in support of ISI would definitely raise the morale of our premier intelligence outfit.

Who paid for the costly ad and who arranged the rally is not difficult to understand.

In conclusion, the chains of repression referred to by Zamir Niazi are no more there yet the invisible ones targeting human weaknesses, stronger and more addictive have come all the way to enslave a large part of our media.

It also appears that today, armor and infantry, artillery and air defense, radars and aircraft are no more relevant as the external threat appears irrelevant to our security establishment.

Media management and manipulation, TV channels and FM stations ceremonies and rallies, eavesdropping equipment, lobbying and campaigning, psyops and propaganda comprise the new hardware and software quite relevant to our valiant armed forces for countering an internal as well as the external threat.

To read complete article : ViewPoint

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Is the army tightening its grip on Egypt?

By Robert Fisk

Two days after millions of Egyptians won their revolution against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the country’s army – led by Mubarak’s lifelong friend, General Mohamed el-Tantawi – further consolidated its power over Egypt yesterday, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution. As they did so, the prime minister appointed by Mubarak, ex-General Ahmed Shafiq, told Egyptians that his first priorities were “peace and security” to prevent “chaos and disorder” – the very slogan uttered so often by the despised ex-president. Plus ça change?

In their desperation to honour the ‘military council’s’ promise of Cairo-back-to-normal, hundreds of Egyptian troops – many unarmed – appeared in Tahrir Square to urge the remaining protesters to leave the encampment they had occupied for 20 days. At first the crowd greeted them as friends, offering them food and water. Military policemen in red berets, again without weapons, emerged to control traffic. But then a young officer began lashing demonstrators with a cane – old habits die hard in young men wearing uniforms – and for a moment there was a miniature replay of the fury visited upon the state security police here on 28 January.

It reflected a growing concern among those who overthrew Mubarak that the fruits of their victory may be gobbled up by an army largely composed of generals who achieved their power and privilege under Mubarak himself. No-one objects to the dissolution of parliament since Mubarak’s assembly elections last year – and all other years — were so transparently fraudulent. But the ‘military council’ gave no indication of the date for the free and fair elections which Egyptians believed they had been promised. …

Read more : The Independent.co.uk

 

Malnutrition in Sindh is worse than the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad – UN says

Pakistan flood crisis as bad as African famines, UN says

Survey shows almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished in Sindh province, six months after floods

Declan Walsh in Islamabad

A “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions” is unfolding in flood-hit areas of southern Pakistan where malnutrition rates rival those of African countries affected by famine, according to the United Nations.

In Sindh province, where some villages are still under water six months after the floods, almost one quarter of children under five are malnourished while 6% are severely underfed, a Floods Assessment Needs survey has found.

I haven’t seen malnutrition this bad since the worst of the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad. It’s shockingly bad,” said Karen Allen, deputy head of Unicef in Pakistan. …

Read more : Guardian.co.uk

SINDH – six months after floods

Six months later, Pakistan’s flood disaster threatens to worsen.

The crisis in Pakistan is far from over and could get worse, international aid agency Oxfam warned today, six months on from the nation’s devastating floods.

In a report, “Six months into the floods” the agency warned that millions of people were still in dire need and that the situation could deteriorate further. The report says that although the aid effort has reached millions, it has struggled to match the immense scale of human need. …

Read more : Oxfam

New corruption scandal deals blow to India’s image

By Paul de Bendern and Jui Chakravorty

NEW DELHI/ MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s reputation as a place to do business took another hit after the scandal-tainted government charged top public sector bankers with accepting bribes initially estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

The scandal is one of the biggest to taint India, potentially harming the image of Asia’s third-largest economy as destination for foreign investors, especially as it comes a few days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has had to defend his government in another graft scandal involving telecoms licences sold at rock-bottom prices. …

Read more : Reuters

Animal Sacrifice or Blood Orgy? – By Syed Rizvi

Once again, Muslims around the world have “sacrificed” millions of animals in a three day period during the month of Eid-ul-Adha to please God.

Sacrifice inherently means that you part with something that is very close to your heart and experience a certain degree of pain during the process.

Abraham proceeded to sacrifice his son who was very close to his heart and with whom had great attachment.

This act of Abraham can be seen as a spirit of true sacrifice.

Today, if I say that I sacrificed an old sofa for a greater cause, I will be laughed at, since the sofa doesn’t mean much to me. However, this hypothetical act of mine is not much different from someone slitting the throat of a goat to please God and call it a sacrifice, since the person has had no attachment to the goat except a few bucks that he would soon forget.

I am just wondering if that is what God had in his mind when he asked us to follow a path in remembrance of Abraham’s devotion to God. Today what we do on the streets of Karachi during the Eid-ul Adha is a mockery of Abraham’s devotion to God.

It is beyond my comprehension that our God, whom we regard as compassionate and merciful finds pleasure watching a helpless camel with one of his front legs tied off the ground and two of his hind legs so closely tied together that he becomes incapable of using those legs independently. And apart from that, his jaws are tied with a rope that he cannot even brawl. And then, a pious looking person sticks a knife into the camel’s throat. The camel bleeds for tens of minutes and suffers excruciating pain until he dies.

Here are some examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oIbT6Plio8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3R6qhjplHM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws8ub3wo_hM&feature=related

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