Was Afghan Loya Jirga An Exercise In Futility?

[Loya Jirga Sets Conditions for American Partnership and for Honest Taliban Negotiations.  Honesty is what they are after, but can it be found in the country today?  The individual tribesman is fully dedicated to honesty, up until the point where it costs him.  Their Western adversaries are led by psychopaths and sycophants, who do not understand the concept of honesty or the reason for unprofitable "mercy."  How could such a partnership ever produce any kind of lasting peace or a workable agreement?  Until the US side admits what its actual intentions are for its outpost/beachhead in Afghanistan after 2014, the diplomats and negotiators are selling all lies to the public.  When we finally hear some American military talking head begin to describe the missions that are planned out of Mazar i-Sharif, either in pursuit of narco-terrorists, or on counter-terrorist missions, then we will know that honesty is part of American considerations.  Until that happens all attempts at human reconciliation efforts will be operating in a river of pure bullshit.]

Cooperation with the United States and the world with the Taliban. Are the two compatible concepts?

Sulton Hamad, a freelance journalist, specifically for the Asia-Plus

Deputies approved the Loya Jirga last weekend declaration prepared by President Hamid Karzai. Its main point – offering the U.S. military to remain in the country since 2014.

But first, a few words about how he trained the Loya Jirga  (High vseafganskoy Assembly)  and treated like the idea of its political parties and other opposition groups in Afghanistan.

The need for and purpose of the Loya Jirga

It should be noted that some political commentators and politicians some, talking about the causes and necessity of the Loya Jirga, in general, noted two points of view. First, the Loya Jirga – the idea of ​​the Karzai government. Following the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan’s rulers of this country think about their future. They would, of course, continue to remain in power by foreign military force. To implement this idea, you need to get formal approval Loya Jirga.

Secondly, this idea and the U.S., which also tend to stay in Afghanistan and after the announced withdrawal of troops in 2014. History shows that American troops everywhere, wherever they were, these places do not voluntarily leave. Recall Germany, Japan … They are almost always stayed at the request of the governments of these countries, which are mostly pro-American.

The position of Parliament and opposition parties

Four days before the opening of the Loya Jirga Parliament considered the participation of deputies in the Assembly. As the deputy told reporters in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan Fawzia Kufi, after heated debate, most MPs came to the conclusion that the conduct of the Loya Jirga – the illegal action of the authorities and to participate in it they will not. Also, deputies noted that the government has yet to report to Parliament on the budget of the Loya Jirga.

Some opposition political parties and organizations have also opposed the Loya Jirga.For example, Abdullah Abdullah, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and Karzai’s main rival in the presidential election, who heads the alliance, “Change and Hope”, said the debate on two vital issues for the state (strategic partnership with America and the conclusion of peace with the Taliban) in Loya Jirga – the illegal action of the authorities. And because his alliance to participate in it will not.

According to him, the Loya Jirga – a mechanism by which Hamid Karzai wants to illegally extend his rule. As noted by Abdullah Abdullah, the members of the Assembly do not represent all the tribes and walks of life in Afghanistan. So Loya Jirga can not consider such important matters of state. It is the prerogative of the Parliament, whose rights were thereby infringes Karzai said Abdullah Abdullah.

“National Front”, which includes the powerful personality of Afghanistan, such as Ahmad Ziyo Masud, Muhammad Muhakkik, Abdurashid Dostum and others also suggests that “the holding of Loya Jirga is illegal and has a goal to reduce the value and position of Parliament.”

The Taliban had intended to blow up the Loya Jirga

On the eve of the Assembly, the Taliban claimed that they got a plan to provide security for Loyay Jirga and in the days of passing the Assembly are going to attack her.

Although the attack itself was not, however, at the request of law enforcement agencies of Afghanistan, a day before the opening of the vicinity of the Loya Jirga was destroyed by a suicide bomber, who had on the body belt with explosives. And on the second day near the building where the assembly took place, several rockets exploded. There were no casualties. Responsibility for the bombings took the Taliban.

Meeting

Responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the Loya Jirga, Hamid Karzai gave the Commission on the preparation and conduct of the Assembly, headed by former President Sibghatullah Mudzhaddidi. The Commission, consisting of 32 members had the right to verify the identity of candidates submitted by the Loya Jirga, that is to check whether they are persons of influence and where they were presented.According to established procedures to nominate one deputy had the right to the city and big towns of Afghanistan. Also on the list have been made about thirty percent of the provincial deputies. The final list was presented to Karzai, who is also his, and claimed.

According to the list in the Assembly were to take part in 2030 delegates, but by the beginning of the Loya Jirga delegates were registered only in 1900, including at least half of the representatives of the Afghan Parliament.

The first day of the deputies gave Hamid Karzai, who asked delegates to discuss two issues: strategic cooperation with the U.S. and the world with the Taliban. He made it clear to deputies, the U.S. military could stay in Afghanistan even after 2014, when they will consider and protect the interests of Afghanistan and not to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. But he added that Afghanistan will not allow use of its territory against third countries. With regard to peace with the Taliban Karzai any specific proposals are made. This case he lay on the Loya Jirga of Deputies.

All the deputies were distributed to 40 committees, and work was mainly on these committees. It is interesting that none of the deputies did not want to work on the Committee under number 39, even sitting in an office under that number, they refused. The fact is that in some provinces of Afghanistan, this figure is considered to be synonymous with the word “infamy” … As a result, the organizers had to turn on this issue.

The discussions in the committees continued until November 19. On this day in the presence of Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister of Germany, Guido Westerwelle, the delegates adopted a declaration, which consists of 76 items.

What is said in the declaration?

Delegates said that any agreement will be signed between Afghanistan and America, must have a guarantee that it will run. This document must be approved by parliament and is registered in the United Nations. Afghans who are in U.S. prisons, should be returned to Afghanistan. Also, the U.S. should not have their own prisons in Afghanistan.

The Declaration recommends that the Loya Jirga to place U.S. military facilities in the border areas, which are clusters of sites militants, as well as demands to ban the nighttime military operations, withdraw immunity from Americans who commit crimes in Afghanistan.

Military facilities may not be near residential areas.

The declaration also stresses that in the territory of Afghanistan’s military installations should not be permanent. Training and equipping of the Afghan armed forces should be an integral part of an agreement with the United States.

In the final declaration of the Assembly of Representatives voted in support of continuing the negotiations with the Taliban, but it required a change in the mechanism of negotiation. “The Afghan government needs to identify his friend and enemy, to demand from Pakistan’s ongoing change in policy toward Afghanistan and cooperate with the international community in combating terrorism” – the declaration said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the adopted declaration will be his guide to action.

A Reputation to Protect

A Reputation to Protect

Kazakhstan’s Response to Local Terrorist Acts is Closely Tied to Its Relationship with Foreign InvestorsRussian, Belarusian, Kazakh presidents meet in the Kremlin

By Andrew Roth 

Russia Profile

When the dust cleared last Saturday in Taraz, a city 350 miles to the west of Kazakhstan’s former capital Almaty, seven people had been shot dead by a would-be suicide bomber who then detonated his explosives, killing himself. In a country that touts itself as the richest and most stable country in Central Asia, months of bombings and shootouts between police and outlaws have convinced many that an Islamist insurgency is brewing. Yet the Kazakh government’s fears that declaring a war on terror could spook its foreign investors, who are important in maintaining the country’s economic stability and sending a steady flow of cash to the government, may prevent it from employing the same hard-line tactics against suspected insurgents that have become commonplace in the neighboring republics.

Kazakhstan has seen an unprecedented rise in terrorist attacks this year. The violence began this May, when the country’s first suicide bomber in its history attacked the headquarters of the local security services in Aktobe, a city in the west of the country. Last month, another bombing took place in the city of Atyram on the Caspian coast. A previously unknown Islamist terrorist group, Jund-al-Kalifhah (Soldiers of the Caliphate), claimed responsibility for the attack at Atyram, as well as last week’s rampage at Taraz.

All this is taking place in a country whose president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, only admitted that there was militant Islam in the country in late August. Pledging to “protect the country against religious extremism,” the Kazakh Parliament subsequently banned prayer rooms in government buildings and required missionaries to register with authorities. Jund-al-Kalifhah has claimed that its attacks have been protests against the targeted legislation.

However, just what role radical Islam actually played in much of the violence remains hotly contested. “So far it’s too early to talk about these attacks as systematic acts of violence. The acts themselves have been quite different, in terms of their technical aspects, and in terms of where they’ve taken place,” said Rustam Burnashev, director of analysis at the Almaty-based Center for Political Solutions. At its core, the violence reflects local dissatisfaction with the government. “These actions are first and foremost linked to the internal situation in Kazakhstan right now, insofar as they are tied to the activities of the security services, socio-economic conditions and the political situation. It can not be linked alone to the law [on religion], although that may have served as a kind of impulse,” he said.

Clumsy denials by the government about active Islamist groups in the country have only served to fuel rumors among rank-and-file Kazakhs about a growing Islamist threat. In an article for The Diplomat magazine, Joshua Kucera noted that officials had painted previous attacks as the work of Mafioso and criminal groups to assuage fears among foreign investors, in particular in the gas and oil sectors, who might pull out of the country if they sense a serious threat.

The presence of ample direct investment from oil and gas majors is one of the key reasons why Kazakhstan has not rushed to tighten the screws over its civil society, as regularly happens in Uzbekistan and other neighboring Central Asian republics after similar violence, noted Eric McGlinchey, an associate professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University and an expert on Central Asia. In Uzbekistan, rich Muslim oppositionists have challenged the state’s ability to control the country via a system of patronage – in that country, controlling any kind of Muslim uprising is not only a question of security, but one of political survival for the government, he said. “Kazakhstan’s got a lot of money, so Kazakhstan doesn’t have to worry about Islam as a challenge to the state patronage network. So it doesn’t face the same incentives that the Uzbek government does to really ratchet up its response to eliminate potential competition,” said McGlinchey.

Investors in the region are on edge, but most seem to be staying put. The first and only organization to leave Kazakhstan wasn’t even a major investor, but, unexpectedly, the U.S. Peace Corps, which is pulling close to 120 members out of the country. According to Kazakhstan’s education minister, the official reasoning was that Kazakhstan was no longer a developing country that required support from the Corps, but the Wall Street Journal reported that concerns over sexual assaults and local terrorism led the Corps to close its last major program in Central Asia.

“There is a sense that while there isn’t a political threat [to the Kazakh government], there is a real security threat, and the United States wouldn’t pull the Peace Corps unless they had a sense that there was a serious security threat in the region,“ said McGlinchey.

Other investors, especially in the oil and gas industry, will be tougher to dislodge from the country. While Peace Corps’ sudden exit from Kazakhstan may serve as an “indicator” of the rising dangers in the country, the oil and gas majors that contribute heavily to Kazakhstan’s prosperity have a “greater tolerance for risk,” said Louise Taggart, an intelligence analyst for Central Asia at the U.K.-based EKA risk management consultancy. “In the short term they have a higher risk threshold than other investors would because the majority of them are used to operating in less stable, even dangerous environments. That begs the questions of whether terrorism might start targeting the oil and gas infrastructure in the country in the longer term. If that happens, then that could be the start of a major problem for them, and we would see a very serious response from the government.”

Propagandastan–CENTCOM’s Central Asian Disinformation Site

“CentralAsiaOnline.com is a website sponsored by USCENTCOM to highlight movement toward greater regional stability both through bilateral and multilateral cooperative arrangements.”

Propagandastan

Why is the Pentagon spending tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars to whitewash the image of Central Asian dictatorships?

BY DAVID TRILLING

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – When people read a news website, they don’t usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America’s foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight “influence websites” funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy’s rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.

Central Asia Online was created in 2008, a time when Washington’s ability to rely on Pakistan as a partner in the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan was steadily waning. In the search for alternative land routes to supply U.S. troops, Uzbekistan seemed the best option. Nearby Iran was a non-starter, and Uzbekistan’s infrastructure — used by the Soviets to get in and out of Afghanistan during their ill-fated war there — was far superior to that of neighboring Tajikistan. Today, the U.S. military moves massive amounts of cargo across Uzbekistan. By year’s end, the Pentagon hopes to see 75 percent of all non-lethal military supplies arrive in Afghanistan via the so-called Northern Distribution Network, a web of land-based transport routes stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Amu Darya River.

Gas-rich Uzbekistan, the most populous of the formerly Soviet Central Asian republics, has been ruled since before independence in 1991 by strongman President Islam Karimov, who is regularly condemned in the West for running one of the world’s most repressive and corrupt regimes. Freedom House gives Uzbekistan the lowest possible score in its Freedom in the World report, while watchdog groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported on widespread torture and forced child labor. The respected Russian human rights group Memorialsays Karimov holds more political prisoners than all other post-Soviet republics combined, often through an “arbitrary interpretation” of the law. The overwhelming majority of those convicted are somehow linked to Islam. Memorial has found that thousands of “Muslims whose activities pose no threat to social order and security are being sentenced on fabricated charges of terrorism and extremism.”

Nonetheless, with Pakistani-American relations at a desperate low, Washington now seems more eager than ever to make overtures to Tashkent. In the past, Karimov has responded to U.S. criticism by threatening to shut down the supply route to Afghanistan. In 2005, after Washington demanded an investigation into the massacre of hundreds of civilians in the eastern city of Andijan, he closed the American airbase at Karshi-Khanabad. So Washington’s expressions of disapproval have given way to praise. In September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautiously commended Tashkent for its “progress” on political freedoms, and, more significantly, President Barack Obama moved to end restrictions on military aid, in place since 2004. Then, during an Oct. 22 visit to Tashkent, Clinton thanked the Uzbek leader in person for his cooperation. A State Department official traveling with her said he believed Karimov wants to leave a democratic legacy for “his kids and his grandchildren.”

Theoretically, with the restrictions lifted, General Dynamics stands to profit. The company has already shown interest in finding clients in Central Asia, hawking its wares at a defense exposition in Kazakhstan last year. This potential self-interest casts an unflattering light on Central Asia Online’s flattering coverage of the region’s calcified dictatorships, especially Uzbekistan.

Take a March story praising Tashkent’s effort to register religious groups. The story does not mention reputable organizations’ allegations about arbitrary arrests of Christians and Muslims from unregistered groups, but cites state-affiliated clergy lauding the country’s religious freedom and praises the feared security services for acting within the law. The story ends by saying, “Uzbekistan is doing everything necessary to ensure its citizens have the proper conditions to exercise freedom of conscience.”

That is patently not so, says John Kinahan of Forum 18, an Oslo-based religious freedom watchdog: “The only thing harmonious in Uzbekistan is a constant picture of violations of just about every human right you can name, which is certainly not producing any meaningful exchange of views of what is going on or how people relate to each other.”

Tajikistan releases Russian and Estonian pilots In Kurgan-Tube

[It cannot be a coincidence that the Uzbek railway line which suffered a terrorist bombing on Nov. 16 services the Tajik city where the Russian pilot was sentenced to eight and a half years.  This implicates either the Russian secret service in the bombing of the NDN (Northern Distribution Network), or links Uzbek terrorists to Russian interests.  Either way, the terror attack was a message to Obama to end the Tajik pilot gambit.  It should be remembered that the IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) was created by a Russian Special Forces soldier, allegedly gone rogue Juma Namangani.]

Tajikistan releases Russian and Estonian pilots

Russian pilot Vladimir Sadovnichy (left) and his Estonian colleague Alexei Rudenko outside court in Tajikistan The pilots were detained in March after flying from Afghanistan

A Tajik court has freed a Russian and an Estonian pilots whose jailing this month led to a major row with Moscow.

Russia’s Vladimir Sadovnichy and Alexei Rudenko from Estonia were jailed for eight-and-a-half years for smuggling and illegally crossing the border.

But the men, who both denied the charges, have now been released at the request of the prosecutor and following heavy pressure from the Kremlin.

Many Tajik migrants were rounded up in Moscow after the initial guilty ruling.

And in another, apparently tit-for-tat, move, Russia’s chief medical officer last week expressed concern about whether ethnic Tajik workers in Russia were carrying the HIV virus that causes Aids.

Migrant work in Russia is a vital source of income for many nationals from Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet Republic.

Amnesty applied

Tajik migrant workers unload a lorry in Moscow, 11 November Tajiks are a cheap source of labour in Russia

The result of Russia’s pressure was that on Tuesday Tajik prosecutors returned to the court in the southern town of Kurgan-Tyube  [SEE:  Uzbekistan has suspended the movement of trains on the line of Termez – Kurgan-Tube]

and asked the judges to reduce the pilots’ original terms to two-and-a-half years.

The prosecutors were also urged to apply a new amnesty law to shorten the sentences by a further two years.

The judge agreed and the result was that the two pilots were released from court immediately because of the time they had already spent in jail.

Moscow earlier condemned the jailing of the pilots, saying the verdict was politically-motivated.

The pilots were detained on 12 March after landing their An-72 cargo planes at Kurgan-Tyube airport.

They were flying back to Russia from the Afghan capital, Kabul, where their company, Rolkan Investments, had been working for the Afghan government, delivering aid from Russia.

Russia and Tajikistan are nominally allies but have long had frictions over each other’s treatment of human rights.

Chinese central bank to replace IMF in Ukraine

Chinese central bank to replace IMF in Ukraine

Azarov: We can survive without IMF

Ukraine is set to rely on Chinese funds after Kyiv surprisingly announced it was turning away from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help finance its struggling economy.

The Central Bank of China has offered a credit line to Ukraine, the Ukrainian daily Kommersant reported today (21 November).

The announcement comes after the IMF published on 18 November a report on the implementation of the stand-by agreement with Ukraine, deploring a lack of political will from Kyiv (see background).

The IMF said that the stand-by programme initiated for Ukraine in 2008 had brought short-term positive results, but not the broader improvement of the economic situation it had expected.

“Progress [in structural reforms] hasn’t been as fast as we would like it to be,” Max Alier, the IMF’s resident representative in Ukraine said recently, quoted by the Kyiv Post.

Ukraine next year will face considerable challenges related to the worsening global economic situation, which will make GDP growth slow to 3.5% from this year’s 5%, Alier said.

He also said the country needs to maintain its attractiveness to investors as it requires large external injections of capital.

Gas talks

One reason for Ukraine to suspend IMF talks also appears to be related to Kyiv’s ongoing negotiation with Russia over natural gas prices. Sergiy Tigipko, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Social Policy, said on Monday that the Ukrainian government expects gas talks with Russia to be completed in this month.

Tigipko said the negotiations with the IMF mission, which are now suspended, will depend on the outcome of the talks.

Ukraine is buying gas from Russia at $400 (€297) per thousand cubic metres, which is substantially higher than the price Western Europeans pay for Russian gas. A new price at the level of $200 (€148) per thousand cubic metres is reportedly under negotiation.

On 14 November Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov surprisingly said that the country could survive without the help of IMF.

Addressing a press conference in Kyiv, Azerov said that after almost a full year, Ukraine had not received “a single dollar” from the IMF.

“We survived this year, we will survive the next one,” Azerov said, adding that thanks to a balanced economic policy, the government had been able to stabilise the internal situation and to reduce the ratio of the external debt to GDP.

According to the Russian website Lenta.ru, even if China grants Ukraine the funds which were expected from the IMF, the presence of the latter in Ukraine is still needed, as it provides a climate of confidence needed by foreign investors.

China has already provided credits to Belarus, another former Soviet country.

EurActiv.com

Bahrain braces for unveiling of probe into unrest

Family members carry the body of 16-year-old protester Ali al-Badah during the funeral procession in Sitra, south of Manama, November 19, 2011. Crowds of mourners confronted police in Bahrain on Saturday after a teenage protester was killed by a police car, residents said, heightening tensions in the Gulf state.

Bahrain braces for unveiling of probe into unrest

The Daily Star – Lebanon

By Lara Sukhtian

Agence France Presse

DUBAI: Bahrain is bracing for the findings of a probe into a government crackdown on protesters as tension escalates in Shiite areas and the opposition vows not to back down from demands for democratic reform.

The report due out on Wednesday, commissioned by King Hamad, will unveil the findings of Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry into alleged government misconduct during the February-March crackdown on Shiite-led protests.

Authorities say 24 people, including four policemen, were killed in a month of unrest, while the Shiite-led opposition puts the death toll at 30. Hundreds more were injured.

Anti-government protests in mainly Shiite areas on the outskirts of Manama have intensified this month, resulting in clashes with security forces that have left dozens injured and one 16-year-old boy dead.

The mass demonstrations which rocked the Sunni-ruled kingdom earlier this year were violently crushed as government forces used live ammunition and heavy-handed tactics in clashes with protesters.

The final blow to the protests, inspired by the Arab Spring, came in mid-March as Bahraini security forces, boosted by troops from Gulf nations, drove demonstrators out of Manama’s Pearl Square — the focal point of protests.

Speaking at cabinet meeting on Sunday, King Hamad warned Bahrainis to steer clear of “anything that adversely affects” their unity.

Sporadic protests since March have intensified in anticipation of the commission’s findings.

“The real question is what happens after the report,” said human rights activist Mohammed Maskati.

“The situation is already very tense. The number of protests in the last two weeks is steadily increasing, as is the number of arrests,” said Maskati who heads the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

He warned that the report should “at the very least reflect the conclusions of other international human rights organisations … Otherwise, the crisis will escalate.”

International organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN human rights agency, have repeatedly accused the government of violating citizens’ rights, citing allegations of torture, unfair trials, excessive use of force and violent repression.

Since the protests broke out, hundreds of Shiites have been arrested, including prominent members of the opposition, medics, teachers and youth activists.

Bahrain’s opposition groups have withheld comment until after the report is released, but at a joint press conference late Sunday they reaffirmed their commitment to democratic change.

“The Bahraini people will not go home-empty handed and we will not accept the status quo,” said prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, who heads Bahrain’s largest opposition group, Al-Wefaq.

“After the report is released, we will meet to plan our next steps,” said Salman.

“Our demands are clear: an elected government, a parliament with full authorities, an independent judiciary, security for all and a just electoral system,” he said.

Salam warned that there was “no way out” of the current political crisis unless the demands were met.

“The opposition will continue with its demonstrations and protests and the peaceful actions inside and outside Bahrain, and we will not back down,” he vowed.

In the 1990s, the archipelago state was also hit by a wave of Shiite-led unrest which abated after the government launched steps to convert the Gulf emirate into a constitutional monarchy.

The commission, which has interviewed thousands of opposition officials and government representatives, is composed of five lawyers, including foreign nationals, and headed by international law and human rights expert Cherif Bassiouni.

In August, the commission was forced to close down its office in Manama after it was stormed by a mob angered by media claims that the panel had cleared authorities of crimes.

The incident demonstrated the sensitivity of the report and the potential for further escalation if the findings released on Wednesday do not live up to the expectations of the opposition.

“If the report’s conclusions are weak, there is real potential for escalation,” predicted Maskati.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2011/Nov-21/154758-bahrain-braces-for-unveiling-of-probe-into-unrest.ashx#ixzz1eR0LueB5
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham Highway Worn-Out By Heavy NATO Traffic

Worn-out Torkham Highway becomes nuisance for truckers

By Sudhir Ahmad Afridi 

LANDIKOTAL: Taking advantage of dilapidated Pak-Afghan Torkham Highway, drug addicted people has started repairing the craters at main road to collect money from the truckers.

Sajid Shinwari said that administration has nothing to do with repairing of the road while media has been throwing dust into the eyes of the local tribesmen saying that the political administration has repaired Torkham Road.

By filling the big holes with mud the roads cannot be repaired. A Subedar of Khasadar Force told that he had filled the big cavities of Torkham-Landikotal Road with mud and sprinkled water over the soil. Though Torkham Road is still dilapidated with big craters, which cause traffic accidents on daily basis.

Arshad Ali Afridi, a local resident and social activist criticizing the media report regarding the repairing and reconstruction of Torkham Road said that the entire road from Peshawar to Torkham was presenting a deserted look, which he said was totally expired.

He asked the government to allocate budget for reconstruction of the Pak-Afghan highway to facilitate the transporters and the local people. Peshawar to Landikotal distance could be traveled in more than two hours, which has become headache, he regretted. Making patches in the road is not a right solution, he pointed out, saying that the complete road was no more usable.

It is worth mentioning that every segment of society including political parties have time and again protested against dilapidated condition of Pak Afghan highway but they all failed to force the government and the concerned department to start repairing or reconstruction of this important road. Additional Political Agent Syed Ahmad Jan talking to Daily Times few days ago said that there was a shortage of funds with the government to repair this main road.

“Jesus Christ” Banned In Pakistani Text Messages

Angry MPA: If you block ‘Jesus Christ’ how will we text over Christmas?

PPP MPA Salim Khursheed Khokhar sat down in front of Speaker Nisar Khuhro to protest against the PTA’s alleged ban on the words ‘Jesus Christ’. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: If we are barred from using the words ‘Jesus Christ’ in text messages, how will we celebrate Christmas and other religious events, protested a Christian MPA on Monday.

The ruling party’s Salim Khursheed Khokhar tried to lodge his point with a sit-in protest once he was denied permission to move a resolution. “When the American priest desecrated the Holy Quran, we [the Christian community] condemned it and criticised those who used derogatory language against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),” he said. “What about the fact that we are deprived of our religious rights and face discrimination in Pakistan.” The MPA requested the speaker to take up the resolution because if he didn’t how would Christians celebrate Christmas and other religious events.

On Monday, Pakistan’s mobile operators deferred implementing a ban on nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages, saying they were seeking further clarification from the telecom authority.

In a harsh voice, Speaker Nisar Khuhro asked the MPA to settle down and gave him permission to move the resolution later. Khokhar responded by saying that the issue was an important one, so if the speaker could bend the rules for other resolutions, then why not this one. Khokhar then started to shout and threw the assembly agenda aside as he went to sit in front of the speaker’s chair in protest. “I am being deprived of my religious rights and will not move till the resolution is taken seriously,” he said. “I do not care if anyone votes for it or not.”

Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Sindh Local Bodies Minister Agha Siraj Durrani rushed to reassure Khokhar and took him back to his seat. They said that the matter would be resolved. The speaker said that he was not opposing the resolution, but the MPA should have informed him earlier. Khokhar responded and said that he had submitted a copy of the resolution to the speaker and the law minister. Soomro said that he would contact the chairman of the PTA and discuss the issue with him.

The MPA also said that people who faced blasphemy charges were awarded capital punishment but no action was taken against those who used derogatory words for Jesus Christ and attacked the minorities. Sindh Archives Minister Rafique Engineer, Sindh Power Minister Shazia Marri, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza and Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Faisal Sabzwari condemned the PTA decision.