Tag Archives: open

Pakistan opens Nato routes

Pakistan opens Nato routes after US apology

By:

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Pakistan was reopening its supply lines into Afghanistan, after the US belatedly issued an apology for the November killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a Nato airstrike.

Clinton expressed her condolences for the deaths in a telephone conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

On censorship in Pakistan – Welcome to 1984

Welcome to 1984

By Irfan Husain

OVER the years, despite repeated bouts of military dictatorship, Pakistan has remained a relatively open society. Even with spooks running around unchecked, people have expressed themselves pretty openly, both privately and publicly.

In large measure, this has been due to the incompetence of our bureaucracy. Few cops and spies are very enthusiastic about surveillance duties. More often than not, they file their poorly written reports that go unread, and pile up in some dusty government archives, never to see the light of day.

But all this is about to change. According to an international tender floated by this government, it is aiming to acquire technology that will enable it not just to block websites at will, but to read our emails and monitor all Internet traffic.

Continue reading On censorship in Pakistan – Welcome to 1984

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

Veena Malik open to stripping for Hollywood

Dubai: Pakistani actress Veena Malik has said that if she was in Hollywood, she would have to work according to the ‘culture’ there, even if it means going nude.

The dark haired beauty, famous for her Lollywood and Bollywood roles and outspoken views on fighting Pakistani Muslim traditions, is caught up in a scandalous affair posing naked on the front cover of India’s FHM magazine.

“… In Pakistan I work within the culture and in India or Bollywood I do the same,” Gulf News quoted her as saying.

“When I’m in Hollywood I would do what is expected of me within their industry. I’m an entertainer after all,” she said.

The controversial actress, who has been engaged twice in the past, called herself a romantic and said that some day, she would like to be a wife too.

“I really believe in love and marriage. I’m a real romantic and I want to be a wife some day but it has to be with the right person,” she said.

“I know someone will come along eventually. I believe that if you look for something you will eventually find it,” she added. ANI

Courtesy: ZeeNews

Open letter to My Lord the Chief Justice – By Kamran Shafi

Excerpt;

…. His words, My Lord: “… ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down … an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterrorism efforts. Pakistanis are not America’s enemies. Neither is their incompetent and toothless civilian government. The enemy is a state organ that breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power.”

There is Breaking News too, My Lord: Omar Warraich’s excellent report in The Independent of December 13, 2011: Pakistan’s “Memogate”.

Surely, planning a coup against a constitutionally elected government also attracts Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan? Perhaps Your Lordship might like to consider a notice to the DG ISI to submit a reply to these charges too, after placing him on the ECL? Otherwise, sir, that other matter might just look like a lynching.

With profound regards, I am,

Your most obedient servant,

Kamran Shafi

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutt.

Read more » The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/307143/open-letter-to-my-lord-the-chief-justice/

Help me in petitioning against Gen. Aslam Baig

Open letter to Gen Aslam Baig

Dear Aslam Baig Sahib,

I heard you talking in a TV programme sometime back, where you once again disputed your role in forming the IJI and your involvement in the Mehrangate Scandal to the sheer shock of the audience. Sir, I will be short and precise in whatever I write because I am traumatised at what you said in the court of law and that too under oath of the holy book.

Let me remind you general to what you said in the Supreme Court in 1997 (Human Rights Petition 19/96 filed by Air Marshal Asghar Khan). Aslam Baig Sahib, your quotes from the SC records are “the money was donated by Younas Habib. The ISI was acting under the directions of higher authorities. As chief of the army staff at that time, when I was informed of this matter, my only concern was that the money received by the ISI was utilised properly and an account was maintained and beyond that I had no concern with the money…” Referring to the amount raised by the ISI for possibly helping right-wing political parties.

But, your astounding claim that you only “over-looked” the operation was rebuffed by your own ISI chief during the time, General Asad Durrani, who filed an affidavit in response to your rather, innocent claim. Gen Durrani, who later in 1996 became our ambassador in Germany, when approached by the SC, wrote an affidavit, confirming that he had received instructions from COAS General Beg (you) to provide ‘logistic support’ for the disbursement of donations made by certain ‘businessmen of Karachi’ to the IJI election campaign of 1990, and was told that the operation had the blessings of the government rebutting your claim that you acted only as a ‘watchdog’.

General Beg, Iqbal Haider who is now a human rights activist, defended General Nasurullah Baber and in a recorded statement (record could be verified by the SC registrar) said, “The ISI was involved in politics”. Lt General Hameed Gul, a former ISI chief, was on record as having boasted that it was he who created the IJI, and another ISI chief, Lt General Javed Nasir, had taken credit for creating the MQM Haqiqi.

Supplementary to this in an another affidavit filed by Gen Babur in the SC (HRC 19/96) included Asad Durrani’s (your ISI Chief) confidential letter to the late Benazir Bhutto which read, “My dear prime minister, A few points I could not include in my ‘confessional statement’ handed over to the director, FIA. These could be embarrassing or sensitive. (a) The recipients included Khar Rs 2 million, Hafeez Pirzada Rs 3 million, Sarwar Cheema Rs 0.5 million and Mairaj Khalid Rs 0.2 million. (b) The remaining Rs 80 million were either deposited in the ISI’s ‘K’ fund (60m) or given to director external intelligence for special operations (perhaps the saving grace of this disgraceful exercise. But it is delicate information.) [Noted in the margin of this paragraph, by the writer in his own hand: “This is false. The amount was pocketed by Beg (Friends)”]

“If the idea is to put Gen Beg on the mat: he was merely providing ‘logistic support’ to donations made by a community ‘under instructions’ from the government and with the ‘consent’ of the military high command. In any case; I understand he is implicated in some other deals in the same case…” Asad Durrani claimed. Fair enough, but money worth Rs 60 million that was supposed to be made to the ISI’s K Fund went to your pockets. General Baig, this is serious, because as per your own ISI chief, “you” and “your friends” pocketed the money.

And friends, sir? Apparently, Naseerullah Babar also filed in court a copy of a bank account sheet headed “G/L Account. Activity Report. Account 12110101 G Baig (sic)” The column heads read “Transaction, Date, Particulars, Debit, Credit”.

The numbered transactions took place between October 23, 1991, and December 12, 1993. The first transaction listed was “Cash-PO Karachi Bar Association A/C Gen Baig (sic.), debit, Rs 505,680” (advocate Mirza Adil Beg, Aslam Beg’s nephew, the then president of the KBA, confirms that the KBA received the money). In January 1992, $20,000 was sold @ 26.50 and Rs 530,000 was credited to the account. Thereafter all debits: “Arshi c/o Gen Baig (sic.) Rs 290,000; Cash paid to Gen Shab Rs 240,000; Cash Friends Rs 100,000 [Aslam Beg’s organisation, FRIENDS, Foundation for Research on National Development and Security]; Cash TT to Yamin to pay Gen Sahib Rs 300,000; Cash TT to Yamin Habib Rs 1,200,000 ; Cash Friends Rs 100,000 ; Cash Friends Rs 100,000 ; Cash paid through YH 1,000,000 ; Cash Friends TT to Salim Khan Rs 200,000 ; Cash Rs 100,000 ; Cash Towards Friends Rs 500,000 ; Cash Asif Shah for Bungalow Rs 35,000 ; Cash Friends Rs 100,000 ; Cash Friends Rs 100,000 ; Cash TT through Yamin for Friends Rs 100,000 ; Cash paid to Fakhruddin G Ebrahim Rs 200,000 [he confirms having received the money from General Baig as fees and expenses for defending him in the contempt of court charge brought against him – PLD 1993 SC310] ; Cash paid through TT to Yamin for Friends ; Cash paid to Fakhruddin G Ebrahim Rs 128,640 [he confirms receipt for fees/expenses for contempt case] ; Cash Guards at 11-A Rs 10,500 ; Cash TT for $240,000 Fav Riaz Malik to City Bank (sic) New York Rs 6876,000 ; Cash Friends Rs 100,000; Cash Guards at 11-A Rs 10,500 ; Cash Major Kiyani Rs 10,000; Cash mobile phone for Col Mashadi Rs 28,911 ; Cash TT fav Qazi Iqbal and M Guddul Rs 300,000 ; Cash Major Kiyani Rs 10,000 ; Cash TT to Peshawar Rs 300,000 ; Cash deposited at Karachi A/C EC [Election Commission] Rs 300,000 ; Cash Guards Rs 24,000 ; Cash TT to Quetta Rs 700,000 ; Cash mobile bill of Col Mashadi Rs 3,237 ; Cash TT to Peshawar Br Rs 400,000 ; Cash deposited at Karachi Br Rs 400,000 ; Cash Guards Rs 11,520 ; Cash TT to Peshawar for EC Rs 200,000 ; Cash TT to Quetta for EC Rs 200,000 ; Cash Guards Rs 5,760 ; Cash Major Kiyani Rs 5,000 ; Cash A/C Guards Rs 8,640 ; Cash th YH Rs 200,000 ; Cash A/C Guards Rs 5,760 ; Cash TT to Salim Khan Rs 100,000.”

General Aslam Baig, its about time you come clean on the allegations and apologise to the nation for not only laundering the nation’s tax money, but artificially forming a right-wing political party, or face Article 6. It is also the duty of the SC to take up the petition of Air Marshal Asghar Khan and take it to its logical conclusion.

Warm Regards,

Ali K Chishti

Courtesy » Daily Times

Source – http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\10\12\story_12-10-2010_pg7_23

When was Pakistan’s fate sealed?

Pak paying heavily for its mistakes in the 1970s: Tony Blair

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “paying heavily” for its mistakes in the 1970s when it started mixing religion with politics and promoted extremism, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

“I think Pakistan is paying a heavy price for the mistakes of 1970s by linking religion with politics and developing religious schools which are, in some cases, dangerous sources of extremism,” Blair told Karan Thapar in an interview to a news channel.

The former British prime minister was responding to queries relating to the role of ISI in spreading terrorism and its links with the Haqqani group in Afghanistan.

When asked if the US, after eliminating Osama bin laden, should also go after the Haqqani faction, Blair said it was something which the Americans have to decide.

“The trouble with these groups is that there is no way to use them wisely. On these issues like Pakistan might have to say about its influence in Afghanistan vis-a-vis India’s influence there, there will be nothing good out of supporting these groups,” he said.

“If ISI is engaged in such activities, in the end it will not merely affect US, UK, Afghanistan or India, it poisons the atmosphere in Pakistan also,” Blair said.

The former British prime minister said that if there was any linkage between the ISI and terror groups such as the Haqqani group and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, “it is a mistake.”

Blair said there was a need to engage “modern and open-minded” Pakistanis who are involved in a struggle against the extremists.

“We have to see how we can engage elements in Pakistan who believe that this was a mistake. The best way is to allow Pakistan to change and evolve and there are a lot of decent people in Pakistan,” he said.

Blair said that Pakistan itself has suffered a lot due to terrorism as thousands of people have been killed. There was a “struggle going on in the country between those with modern and open-minded attitude towards future against those who are in the power struggle and will play dangerously,” he said. ….

Read more → TOI

PAKISTAN: Floods in Sindh-the ‘untouchables’ waiting to get a touch of relief efforts

– An article by Fizza Hassan published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

As Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) predicts more monsoon rains in the coming days, the worst victims of rains and breaches in a monsoon-swollen Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) in Badin district — the Pakistani low caste Hindus (Dalits) of the districts were denied to get in to relief camps for being ‘untouchables.’

In the last five weeks when monsoon-swollen drains and LBOD burst its banks and caused recent history’s worst ever catastrophic disaster, the so-called traditional bigotry continued to run deeper than the floodwaters.

Despite torrential rains majority of these Hindu Dalits in Badin district continue to live in open sky as they were not allowed accommodation in the private/self-built relief camps of Muslims.

What added to the tragedy was the federal government’s ban on NGOs and international donors to work in these areas for ‘security reasons.’ As the government itself initiated relief operation much later, the religious extremist organizations that started relief operation in Badin have completely ignored these Dalits or Harijan, which means ‘Children of God’.

Cahnesar Bheel, a Dalit farmer and resident of Goth Gomando Bheel, Taluka Golarchi [Shaheed Fazil Rahu] is one of around 700 Dalits of his village who have no choice but to live in their submerged village with his nine children.

‘Our village is between the two drains and during rains both burst and inundated our village from either side, so we rushed to a nearby relief camps set inside a government school but the tenants did not allow us to live inside the camp, so we came here and started living under open sky,’ Bheel told media.

Bheel said the people living inside the camps had said them that they are Shudra, so they are not allowed to live with Muslims. His village comprises on 80 households with 700 population and all are Dalits.

A civil society activist, Ameer Mandhro sharing his views said, ‘This is not the only village of Dalits in the district that have no roof on their heads but there are countless other Dalit villages including villages on Khoski road, Seerani, Lonwari Shrief and other areas where Dalits are living this way because they are not allowed a place in the relief camps.’

Same happened with Pibhu Kolhi and 50 other residents of his village, who rushed to a relief camp set inside a government school in Tando Bagho, were not allowed to live in the camp after heavy rains.

However, humanity in still prevails within some hearts as a man inside a camp allotted one isolated class room to a few Dalit flood victims. As Kolhi said, ”The isolated class room is away from the main building where only two families are living while the rest of the village is living in open despite continued heavy rains.” He said some philanthropists came to provide food in the relief camp, but they were not given, so despite rain they are cooking food in open sky.

In the emergency situation the role of the minister for minorities affairs Mohan Lal Kohistani seeks attention. Kohistani, despite such a large number of the Hindu population being a part of flood victims, has not done anything so far for their relief. ….

Read more → Asian Human Rights Commission

Open corruption in India by politicians and the bureaucrats!

India’s ‘black money’ in Switzerland

By Kuldip Nayar

I do not think there is any top civil servant or a leading politician in South Asia without the blemish of having a foreign bank account. But the pressure in India on the Manmohan Singh government to bring back the black money stashed abroad has been relentless. But instead of taking any concrete action, the government seems to be trying its best not to let the gamut of black money come to light. Therefore, it is understandable why it is seeking clarifications on the Indian Supreme Court’s indictment: “The issue of unaccounted monies held by nationals and other legal entities in foreign banks is of primordial importance to the welfare of the citizens.”

It had warned the government not to presume that the money hidden in Switzerland was a result of tax evasion. It could be money that has been laundered after being earned from gun-running, drugs, terrorism, etc. …

Read more → THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

 

An open letter to General Pasha – by Ejaz Haider

Dear General Pasha,

I write this letter to you in the wake of the gruesome and gratuitous murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad, friend to many, including myself.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, the agency you head, is being accused of Saleem’s murder. You must also know that the ISI is widely reviled and dreaded at home. For an agency that was set up primarily for strategic intelligence, this is quite an achievement. It is accused of driving in its own lane, monitoring the media, kidnapping, torturing and sometimes killing dissenters, political and otherwise, determining, arbitrarily, what Pakistan’s national interest is and how best we should go about pursuing it.

You must also know that some former officers have not only admitted to electoral fraud, rigging, making and breaking of political alliances, buying people through a mix of carrots and sticks, and browbeating the media, but consider having done so as part of their remit and in the best national interest. Perish the thought that any one of them would say peccavi, since some actually boast about it.

Whispers there always have been. But now much is being said aloud. The ISI is not accountable to anyone; it is all-powerful; it can kill mercilessly and, in this case, it has killed Saleem, so go these whispers. What would you say to this? Shrug and move on, as if it makes no difference, that this is about a few flies buzzing around, a minor nuisance at worst? The man, who now lies buried after being tortured to death, leaves behind three children and a wife. To me this does not look like anything minor.

And what has the agency you head done so far? ….

Read more: The Express Tribune

SINDH: Schools, colleges to remain open in June

By: Syed Jafar Askari

KARACHI – The Sindh Education Department has decided that summer vacations will be observed in two months from July to August instead of June to July.

It is also decided that the female students will be awarded scholarships to enhance literacy rate among women segment of the society. These decisions were taken in a meeting of Steering Committee of Sindh Education Department, held on Saturday. Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar ul Haq presided over the meeting ….

Read more : The Nation

Let us strengthen Pakistan

Let us Unite to Uphold 18th Amendment including Devolution of HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

As more and more information comes out in the waning days of Higher Education Commission (HEC), most Sindhis are shocked to know that out of ten thousands (10,000) foreign and domestic scholarships that have been distributed by HEC so far, Sindh received only 892 (http://ejang.jang.com.pk/4-7-2011/Karachi/pic.asp?picname=99.gif). This amounts to about one third of the number that Sindh would have received even if the NFC award rules were applied. There is no province/ state or ethnic group anywhere in the world that has suffered as much as Sindhis have when it comes to scholarship opportunities in Pakistan. Instead of defending an institution that has denied Sindhis their due share in educational opportunities for so many years, we should be demanding trial of those officials who were responsible for denying Sindh its due share in scholarships. It is doubtful that an agency of such dreadful performance should even be given a role of standard setting and quality assurance. The Government of Pakistan should seriously consider creating a new agency with proper representation from each province/ state to oversee the jurisdictions that 18th Amendment allows at the federal level.

Continue reading Let us strengthen Pakistan

Devolution of HEC: Which model should we follow?

by Azhar Ali Shah

According to some HEC officials and other educationists, though the Western model of devolved higher education system is good but it may not be suitable for us to follow and that we should look at our neighbors China, Saudi, Iran and India for developing our system! One wonders whom our neighboring countries are going to follow? And the answer is the West!

Take for example China’s experience with higher education as described by Xin-Ran Duan [1]. Though initially based on the ideas of Confucius, China’s higher education adopted western (US) model with the establishment of Peiyang University in 1895 (changed its name to Tianjin University in 1951).

On becoming the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China changed its system of higher education from Western to Soviet Union. The difference between these two being that Western model was based on devolution in terms of management and common comprehensive university (one university for all disciplines) in terms of structure; while the Soviet model was based on over centralization of management and discipline specific universities in terms of structure (e.g., University of Engineering, University of Agriculture, University of Art and Literature etc.).

After the fall of Soviet Union in 1990s, China adopted open door-policy and started both devolving the power and management and merging the discipline specific universities into truly comprehensive universities following the advanced Western model again.

In order to describe how China’s over centralized system is going to devolve, I would like to present following excerpt from an article [1]:

One major change in governance has been the introduction of the “two-level education provision system,” in which the central government (Minister of Education) shares responsibility for educational governance with local governments (provincial bureaus of education). The provincial bureaus of education have been assigned greater responsibilities and now directly administer most common universities and colleges. The chief executive officer of a university is the president, who is usually appointed by the government. In the past, appointments were made without public hearings, interviews, or competition among candidates. The introduction of these processes has had a positive effect [1].

So having gone through this are we still going to follow China, India, Saudi and others who are themselves evolving to adopt advanced Western model! Our 1973 constitution placed some subjects on concurrent list only for 10 years (I repeat for 10 year only) so the country develops the resources at center and then devolves to strengthen the provinces. HEC has developed its capacity in 10 years and that is the maximum as per example of 1973 constitution which we need to transfer to provinces so they provide the same services even in a more efficient, fair and democratic way.

It is therefore, HEC officials along with educationists, experts and general public join the hands to start what we believe are good things developed by HEC and evolve it further with the participation of all of us. Why do HEC officials think that they could do this work while only sitting at Islamabad? What is the point? What if sub teams of these persons along some additional persons are provided the same setup and resources at provinces? Why they can’t work there exactly in the same way as they are working in Islamabad?

It is in the light of the above that we request HEC officials along with our friends in the academia to kindly help our provinces in setting up the same bodies at provincial level and do away with the centralized HEC. These opportunities for change come once in a generation and should not be lost in the narrow mindedness of bureaucratic hurdles. In order to build a true Pakistan, we have to build our system at local level, which is fair, transparent, democratic, honest and trustworthy. This might require some personnel sacrifices but that is the way to go ahead if we are really sincere with our country as a whole!

PS: BTW, HEC still follows the outdated Soviet Model not only in terms of centralization but

Continue reading Devolution of HEC: Which model should we follow?

Communist Party of Egypt resumes open political activities

March 24, 2011 — People’s World — On March 15, the Communist Party of Egypt announced that after many years underground because of repression, it will be assuming open, public political activities once more. The announcement came after “an extensive meeting with all of its bodies” and was unanimous.

The original Communist Party of Egypt, the Hizb al Shuvuci al-Misri, had been founded in 1922 when Egypt was still a monarchy and very much under the thumb of British imperialism. The last king of Egypt, Farouk, was overthrown by an uprising of young army officers in 1952. Out of that revolution came the 14-year regime of Colonel Gamel Abdel Nasser, a radical nationalist who worked to break Egypt away from subservience to Western capitalist powers. In 1965, the Communist Party of Egypt merged into Nasser’s own movement, the Arab Socialist Union.

A number of former Communist Party activists dissented from this merger and formed their own independent journal, Al-Inisar (Victory), starting in 1973, which led to their re-founding the Communist Party in 1975. Under the governments of Anwar Al Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, the re-founded Communist Party of Egypt faced repression and was not allowed to run in elections. However, it did not disappear and did not abandon the struggle for democracy and socialism.

When the demonstrations against the Mubarak regime began earlier this year, the Communist Party of Egypt, working in unity with other left-wing dissident groups, quickly gained public visibility as a key voice in the secular opposition. Its February 1, 2011, proclamation read as follows. ….

Read more : Link International

Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters in Several Cities

MICHAEL SLACKMAN

CAIRO — Military troops opened fire on protesters in the southern part of Syria on Friday, according to news reports quoting witnesses, hurtling the strategically important nation along the same trajectory that has altered the landscape of power across the Arab world.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a, on the border with Jordan, and in some other cities and towns around the nation took to the streets in protest, defying a state that has once again demonstrated its willingness to use lethal force. It was the most serious challenge to 40 years of repressive rule by the Assad family since 1982, when the president at the time, Hafez al-Assad, massacred at least 10,000 protesters in the northern Syrian city of Hama. …

Read more : Wichaar

President Zardari’s Moves to Take On Opposition, SC: Final Showdown?

Tables are Turned in Islamabad: Shujaat Officially Meets Zardari. Final Showdown Between PPP, SC & PML-N Imminent?

By: Aijaz Ahmed

Excerpt:

Islamabad: It was a day of President Asif Ali Zardari in the Federal Capital of Pakistan today as he threw surprise after a surprise at his opponents, indicating that the PPP has finally decided to play its cards and a final battle between PPP, Supreme Court and PML-N is now imminent. The indication was given by a surprise meeting, which was officially admitted by Aiwan-e-Saddr (presidency) itself between the President and Co-Chairperson PPP Asif Ali Zardari and a delegation of PML (Q) headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain Friday night. …

…. ‘The party is ready to take on the judicial activism, and the political strategy of PML-N’, he said. ‘The meeting of PML (Q) and PPP leadership will open venues for future cooperation and joint political strategy against Mian brothers and the judiciary, he added. …

…. Chess Board is laid, and field is open for all political and allied forces. Every player is playing its moves, but the clever player will win in the end. And who will be the cleverest of all, only time holds the answer, just wait for few weeks.

Read more : Indus Herald

ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY INVITING ARMY & JUDICIARY TO PLAY UNCONSTITUTIONAL ROLE AGAINST ELECTED DEMOCRATIC GOVT.

N’ reaffirms judiciary, army proposal

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (N) on Wednesday said it considered the army and the judiciary major stakeholders in the country’s national affairs as it justified Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s controversial call for inviting representatives of the two institutions at a proposed all-party conference to prepare a broad-based national agenda to steer the country out of crisis.

“Since the country’s constitution has assigned roles to both the judiciary and the army, besides the executive, the call for inviting the army chief and the chief justice for consultation on national issues is not something extra-constitutional,” PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told a joint news conference with the party’s former information secretary, Siddiqul Farooque, and MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry at the party’s central secretariat here.

The PML-N leaders announced that if the government did not stop recruitment in state-owned corporations on ‘political grounds’, their party’s parliamentarians would ‘gherao’ (besiege) these institutions.

The Punjab chief minister told journalists after inaugurating a three-day polio campaign in Lahore on Monday that the deteriorating situation in the country demanded that all stakeholders, including the political leadership, army and the judiciary, sat together and discussed the challenges facing the country.

He also said he had already contacted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani “on the advice of (party chief) Nawaz Sharif to suggest to him to sit together with the army and the judiciary and discuss a strategy to steer the country out of the current situation”.

Wednesday’s news conference seemed aimed at countering criticism of Mr Sharif’s statement from the federally ruling Pakistan People’s Party and various sections of society and media, with some political observers terming the call as an open invitation to the army for a direct intervention in the country’s political matters.

Read more : DAWN

Open secrets – Homosexuality in Pakistan!

In Pakistan, sex between men is strictly forbidden by law and religion. But even in the most conservative regions, it’s also embedded in the society.

By Miranda Kennedy

LAHORE — The first time Aziz, a lean, dark-haired 20-year-old in this bustling cultural capital, had sex with a man, he was a pretty, illiterate boy of 16. A family friend took him to his house, put on a Pakistani-made soft-porn video, and raped him. Now, says Aziz (who gives only his first name), he is “addicted” to sex with men, so he hangs around Lahore’s red-light districts, getting paid a few rupees for sex. At night, he goes home to his parents and prays to Allah to forgive him. …

Read more : The Boston Globe