Gold Hits Historic High–$1,251.85 an ounce


DOHA: Gold prices surged to an all-time high in the local and global markets yesterday.

One gram of pure (24-carat) gold was selling at QR146.50 in Qatar yesterday, a sudden jump from QR137 almost overnight.

On the London Bullion Market, gold hit a record $1,251.85 an ounce at about 0925 GMT.

The trend is particularly worrisome for citizens and South Asian expatriates, coming as it does at the beginning of the wedding season, when demand for the yellow metal soars.

In fact, the wedding season in India and Pakistan is already on and an increasing number of people are buying gold here to carry home.

“It’s the highest-ever rate we have seen for gold locally,” said Muzammil Hanif, Vice-President of Al Fardan Exchange, whose group is also in the bullion trade.

Fears that a sovereign debt crisis might spread to other member countries of the European Union (EU) are increasingly prompting investors to park their funds in gold, he said.

“This is pushing gold prices up,” added Muzammil Hanif, who has been watching the local gold trade for more than 30 years.

According to the famous jewellery chain, Damas, the price of 22 carat gold has peaked at QR139 per gram, while the prices of 21 and 18 carat gold are at QR132 and QR114 per gram, respectively.

Jewellery is made of 22, 21 and 18-carat gold. While the former versions are mostly preferred by Qatari and South Asian families, Filipinos opt for 18-carat gold jewellery.

An official from Damas said the demand for gold was peaking despite the soaring prices. “This is the marriage season in India and Pakistan, so a lot of expatriates are buying gold jewellery to carry along,” he added.

The marriage season of the Qatari community is to begin in about two weeks, when demand for the yellow metal is expected to go up further.

The nationals have two wedding seasons in a year — in January and February, and during the long summer vacations.

Qatari families are quite fond of jewellery and a family on average spends around QR100,000 on gold ornaments alone for a marriage.

As for investors here, their craving for pure gold biscuits and bars remains stable. The demand for pure gold is, though, limited in Qatar.

Internationally, as individuals and institutions with euro assets switch to other assets, including gold, which is considered the safest haven during any crisis, gold prices are likely to surge further, market sources said.


Taliban execute 7-year-old Afghan boy accused of spying

Taliban execute 7-year-old Afghan boy accused of spying

Suspected Taliban militants executed a 7-year-old boy in southern Afghanistan after accusing him of spying for the government, a provincial official said Wednesday, DPAreported.

The child was captured by the militants in Sangin district of southern province of Helmand on Tuesday, Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said.

“The militants killed the 7-year-old boy in Heratiyan village of the district, on charges of espionage for Afghan government,” Ahmadi said, citing information provided to police by relatives.

Most areas of the district are controlled by Taliban militants, while Afghan and foreign troops are only present in the centre, he said.

The Taliban had not yet comment on the reported incident.

After being driven from power in late 2001, Taliban militants have killed dozens of people accused of spying. But Tuesday’s incident was the first time a child was reportedly executed.

The Taliban insurgents are most active in southern Afghanistan, where US and NATO forces are planning a major offensive this year.

Two Billion Down the Drain or a Wise Strategic Investment?

Two billion down the drain

Aisha Berdiev
Vitali Volkov

Turkmenistan began to build a gas pipeline that should link the fields in the east to the Caspian Sea, where, according to the plans, are going to scoop fuel and the Caspian Sea project, and “Nabucco”.

31 May, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov solemnly launched the construction of the largest in the country’s main gas pipeline “East-West length of about 1000 km. Its capacity should reach 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year, and approximate value – 2 b

At his own expense

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan natural gas pipeline is designed to, firstly, the creation of a unified gas supply system in the country, and secondly, the diversification of supplies of Turkmen natural gas to international markets. It is reported that construction of the pipe will be implemented by Turkmen enterprises, and at their own expense Turkmenistan.

Plans to build a gas pipeline were discussed as early as 2008, when between Ashgabat and Moscow and Astana signed a preliminary agreement to establish a branch of the East-West “as part of the Trans-Caspian project. But the money for the construction of Ashgabat then obtain from the partners could not. Then, on what money is being built now? And Who is the East-West “- all the same to foreign consumers, whether the Nabucco pipeline, which would make Western Europe, the Caspian Sea Project, which promotes Russia, or China? Or is it primarily intended to strengthen the internal energy system, which in the reign of Saparmurat Niyazov to decline?

Concrete agreements yet

According to the expert of the international organization Global Witness Tom Maina , the pipeline “East-West” in general is useful for Turkmenistan – it binds the individual fields in a single system. However, now it is impossible to say exactly what role it will play trumpet in the export of Turkmen gas, as there is no specific agreements on deliveries.

“It is unlikely that Russia was interested in this project. Russia is now buying less gas from Turkmenistan, so it is now no need to build a Caspian pipeline. With”Nabucco”the situation is similar. The German energy company RWE previously argued that the soon to be contracted to 10 billion cubic meters of gas. But the signing of the contract is delayed, and the West still agreements on gas deliveries there. In fact, one can assume that links the gas fields of Turkmenistan, with the hope of the East: for the supply of deposits Dowletabat in China “, – said Tom Mayne.

In Ashgabat is unknown reserves?

However, in his view, the pipeline of the East-West “- an important project for energy security, Turkmenistan, and the fact that it occurs, indicates that Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, there are some unknown world reserves. “But the problem is that Turkmenistan is so opaque, that it is impossible even to say how this country is rich or poor” – said in an interview with Tom Mein Deutsche Welle.

Swedish expert on CIS Torgny Hinnemu statement Ashgabat to start self-build pipe “East – West” finds evidence that Turkmenistan has become more proactive: “Theoretically,”East-West”offers the prospect of exporting natural gas in Russia and in Europe “. This, according to the expert, vantage point for the republic, although there is a risk that future sales of gas will not cover all expenses. But at the same time, Turkmenistan will be easier to compete on the world market, if the pricing policy will suit all parties.

For example Rogun

By the fact on what the money Turkmenistan is building the East-West “, Torgny Hinnemu draws an analogy with Tajikistan. “All this reminds me of a story with Rogun in Tajikistan, where the country’s leadership after many attempts to come to realize that international investors are not willing to invest in their brilliant idea. This fact seems to me, nudged now official Ashgabat to act independently. Obviously the tender, which Turkmenistan has announced early last year, has not brought the desired result.

In addition, the expert says, there is still no favorable investment climate. A relationship with potential investors stoyatsya on the principle of “invest money, despite all the risks and dividends get if Allah wills!”

According to both experts, the announcement of the construction of the “East-West” should not be interpreted in the context of the movement of Ashgabat in the direction of “Nabucco”, of interest to western Europe. “The Turkmen government has long pits potential buyers of gas in their own interests, keeping the West in an agony of waiting for gas the last two or three years. At the same time, the Turkmen officials confirm that the ground gas deposits in the West will not go, and”East-West”connects these fields. So too early to talk about a turn to the West in gas policy of Turkmenistan “, – concludes Tom Mayne.

Chemical Castration for Violent Pedophiles and Rapists In Poland

Man behind barsTo require the person to undergo a course of medicines will be able to court after consultation with a psychiatrist

In accordance with the law, is now forced chemical castration would be subject to all the men convicted for pedophilia and sexual abuse by close relatives.

The law, approved by the Polish Parliament in September last year, entered into force on Tuesday.

It applies to men who commit sexual violence against children or family members.

Until now the procedure of chemical castration was used in several countries, but usually on a voluntary basis.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk suggested to make it compulsory after the country was rocked by series of high-profile crimes committed by pedophiles.

In addition, increased prison sentences for criminals, pedophiles and those convicted of violence against family members. Previously such crimes were punished by imprisonment for a term of two to 12 years, but now the court may send the offender to imprisonment for a term of three to 15 years.

Now the men who served time for rape of minors will be required to start a course of medication that suppress sexual desire.

However, judges appointed before the measure would need to consult with a psychiatrist, watching the prisoner.

According to Polish politicians, to date in the country operates the most stringent legislation in Europe against pedophiles.

Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan relations experience stage of new rapid development

Ambassador: Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan relations experience stage of new rapid development

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, June 9 / Trend H. Hasanov /

Today, the eighteenth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations betweenAzerbaijan and Turkmenistan is marked. Now it experiences a new phase of rapid recovery, Azerbaijani Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Turkmenistan Vahdet Sultanzade told Turkmen media.

“The establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which are two identical in spirit, having common historical development, ethnic and linguistic affinities, is sure to represent a landmark milestone in the centuries-old relationship between our brotherly peoples”, the diplomat said.

He said that the Azerbaijani-Turkmen relations experience a new stage of rapid recovery now.

“The common interests of two countries that support the positions and initiatives of each other in international affairs and influential international organizations is confirmed daily and hourly,” he said.

This community is clearly demonstrated by the existence of a number of important agreements in the field of education, cooperation in the field of transport, activities of the Azerbaijani-Turkmen intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation, the diplomat said.

Vahdet Sultanzadeh also quoted President Ilham Aliyev. He said that we as two independent states fully realized our full energy potential. Those investments and projects which we have implemented, ensure now and will ensure a happy future for our peoples for many more decades.

The article stressed “the continuing importance of friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan for the entire region of Central Asia, Caspian Sea, the Caucasus.”

Vahdet Sultanzadeh also notes that an attractive feature of neutrality and the corresponding  foreign policy of Turkmenistan is all possible support for the international community in its efforts to sustain and enhance global security, prevent and neutralize the threat of conflicts, ensure conditions for a stable and sustainable development of countries and peoples.

The landmark in this context is the opening of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia in 2007, with headquarters in Ashgabat, the diplomat said.

“There is no doubt that the factor of strategic importance is that Turkmenistan is among the countries having the largest reserves of hydrocarbons, energy, transport and communications capabilities”.

Azerbaijani ambassador said that foreign policy initiatives of the Turkmen leadership are aimed to use this potential for the benefit of all mankind, for the sake of regional cooperation and development.

“Turkmenistan is making its invaluable contribution to the formation of an international legal basis. In particular, it is the initiator to develop a document of global significance in the energy sector and a secure transit of energy.

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Musharraf’s political party launched–When Is Altaf Returning?

Musharraf’s political party launched

By Habib Khan Ghori
Former president Pervez Musharraf. — Photo by AP

KARACHI: With self-exiled retired General Pervez Musharraf as its chief, the All-Pakistan Muslim League was launched by his close aides here on Tuesday.

Equating the present situation with that of 1906 when the All-India Muslim League was launched, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, a central leader of the new party, said that as the AIML overcame hurdles on its way to success, “God willing, ours would also become a popular political party and play its role in Pakistan’s progress.”

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club with retired Major-General Rashid Qureshi, another central leader of the party, Mr Saif said the party was against hereditary politics and would carry out its politics in a democratic manner to serve the people.

“Our motto remains ‘Pakistan first’, and remaining above all personal, regional and group considerations we will make every necessary sacrifice for Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Saif said their party had received a good response from the people and political activists, including leaders from the PML-Q, the PML (Likeminded) and the Awami Muslim League. He added that during his three-day stay in Karachi, he had been contacted by a number of representatives of labour, women and youth organisations who wanted to join the party. He mentioned some of the men seated with him, including Zubair Khan and Anwar Warsi.

He said that in the first phase, organisational councils at the district, divisional and provincial levels were being set up and in the second phase those who were made council members would be given responsibilities after forming Karachi and provincial councils. They would be visiting Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Balochistan.

In reply to questions repeatedly asked by journalists that before entering politics, Gen Musharraf should clear himself of the charges of massacre at Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad, the May 12 killings in Karachi, the assassinations of PPP leader Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti in Balochistan, Mr Saif said those were political allegations and would be responded to at a proper platform and at an appropriate time through the presentation of facts. Doubts were created in people’s minds by opponents of Gen Musharraf and “we would fully satisfy the people”, he added.

Regarding the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, he said: “They are our brothers” and that he hoped they would extend cooperation in “our political journey”.

Rashid Qureshi said Gen Musharraf would soon return to Pakistan. He, however, could not give a date or month of his return, saying that it would be determined by the former president himself.

After the press conference, responding to a question, Rashid Qureshi said the PML-N — instead of being concerned about Pakistan’s wellbeing — was doing politics of vendetta and that was why Pakistan had reached the present crisis situation.

Responding to another question, he said had there been any other ruler in Pakistan at the time, he would have carried out an operation against Lal Masjid, or else the fate of Islamabad would not have been different from that of Swat.

Are we doing enough in Balochistan?

Are we doing enough in Balochistan?

By Alam Rind

The situation in Balochistan is turning from bad to worse. It seems that the foreign intelligence agencies are doing their best to push the province into darkness of illiteracy, and to alienate its population to take up arms against their own state. The irony is that serious law and order situations can be created by a handful of people, which certainly doesn’t represent majority. It is true that a lot needs to be done to improve their quality of life, but at the same time it is also true that Balochis are patriotic and nationalist people those who understand the motives of the perpetrators of lawlessness and terrorism in the province. One can find some solace in the fact that out of about seventy Baloch tribes residing in Balochistan, sixty-seven are peace loving and wish to register their discontent while remaining within the bounds of the constitution.

Marri, Bugti and Mengals tribes are more violent and are aggressively pursuing their agenda. Their activists at times initiate terrorist attacks blowing up pylons, railway tracks, gas pipelines etc. Without realising that in fact they are hurting themselves.

We need to admit that Balochistan is the least developed province of Pakistan. Poverty is wide spread and means of earning are limited. These mainly comprise of cattle and sheep farming, agriculture in a limited area and trade mainly comprising of smuggled goods. Traditionally tribal chieftains had always maintained control over these resources and used the same to strengthen their authority over their tribes. Due to their ill-placed wisdom, they kept their tribesmen uneducated as in their perception it guaranties their unopposed chieftainship. In fact, in the process they denuded them of the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, rendering them vulnerable to the propaganda unleashed by anti-state elements. A striking example is that of tribal areas, where chieftains have been systematically eliminated and leadership role taken over by so-called religious leaders. They exploited the deep reverence of the people for Islam to propagate their own brand having zero tolerance for other school of thoughts. People innocently went into their fold due to lack of knowledge. For this difficult situation besides chieftains, the government is to be blamed for not being able to provide education to the masses.

The government is still showing apathy towards education, which is evident from budgetary allocation, wherein, HEC’s budget has been reduced from around Rs22 billion to Rs15.7 billion for the year 2010-11. As a fraction of GDP, Pakistan is spending 2.1% on education. In contrast Nepal is spending 3.2%, Iran 5.2%, Vietnam 5.3% and even India 3.3% of its respective GDP’s. Low investment on education on one hand will curtail the government’s efforts to rebuild schools destroyed in tribal areas and on the other hand will limit its ability to reduce illiteracy from the country creating conducive environments for terrorism to thrive.

In fact this gap has aptly been identified by those who are perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan. Destruction of schools in tribal areas and target killing of teachers in Balochistan is not without a purpose. It is aimed at keeping the areas underdeveloped, preventing people from having better understanding of what actually is happening, and keeping them subservient to their foreign masters desirous of creating commotion in the society. The absence of formal education results into illiteracy that breeds poverty. It forces parents to send their children to madaris where ill-gotten religious teachers transform them into terrorists. So under these circumstances it is but natural for them to attack any and every individual and institution that endeavours to educate people.

To arrest the situation in Balochistan, the government will have to really exert in multiple directions. It is always very difficult to alleviate the general sense of deprivation prevalent in the major segment of society especially in the face of foreign intervention. The first and foremost step that government needs to initiate is to increase its interaction with the locals and to get involved in continues dialogue for better understanding of their grievances and point of view. This process can only reap fruit only if it is complemented by physical actions transforming into developmental works best meeting their requirements.

The government has made a substantial effort to address their general complaints through enactment of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, NFC Award and 18th Amendment but so far these are only confined to papers. It is only once these provisions are implemented and the public starts benefiting, their perceptions will change.

To expedite the process government needs to take extraordinary steps for their transparent and speedy implementation. Another important area that will restore confidence of the people is fulfilment of promises made by the government. For example the government must go out of its way to provide 5000 jobs to the people of Balochistan as promised by the prime minister of Pakistan.

The interactive process should involve exhaustive research for the uplift of the people of Balochistan that should identify ways and means that may be deployed for poverty alleviation and capacity building for optimum resource utilisation.

The News will welcome other point of view in its columns