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

Punjab ‘in denial’ over local militants

Punjab ‘in denial’ over local militants

* Punjab govt denies hosting militants, major operation needed in area
* Punjab governor tells provincial govt to recognise the existence of terrorists
* Analyst says Sharifs want to keep banned groups on board to use their vote banks
* PML-N spokesman says rivals are playing politics on terrorism

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government is using militant groups to drum up electoral support, analysts and officials say, preventing it from admitting it has a problem with home-grown militants and from dealing with them.

High-profile attacks in Punjab, such as last month’s suicide assaults on two Ahmedi worship places in Lahore, have outraged and horrified Pakistanis.

They have also sparked talk of an operation against Punjabi groups along the lines of the Pakistan Army’s push against the Taliban in the northwest.

The US and India are becoming increasingly concerned about Punjab as it is Pakistan’s richest and most populous province. Any large-scale insurgency there would almost certainly destabilise Pakistan even more.

Denial: But the PML-N-led Punjab government denies Punjab is hosting militants or that a major operation is needed.

“Let’s not open a Pandora’s box,” a senior provincial official said, commenting on the possibility of a strong push against Punjab-based militants. “We don’t want widespread violence along sectarian lines.”

However, the PPP, experts on militancy and much of the country’s media say the PML-N is playing politics with terrorists in a bid to retain its edge in Punjab’s local elections.

All so-called Punjabi Taliban groups are banned by Pakistan, yet all operate with a degree of openness in Punjab, said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Malik surprised many last week when he acknowledged that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba-Pakistan and Jaish-e-Muhammad – along with 29 other banned groups – were operating in Punjab and allied with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al Qaeda.

He also said 726 out of more than 1,700 members of banned groups were from Punjab.

Terrorists’ existence: “They (the PML-N) don’t use the word ‘Taliban’,” Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said. “Call them what they are, Punjabi Taliban or Taliban from Punjab. Don’t try to cover them up and say this doesn’t exist.”

While the Punjab government has often denounced the TTP and attacks originating in the Tribal Areas, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his party have yet to denounce similar attacks by banned Punjabi groups. They have also failed to crack down on public rallies by the groups or move against militant madrassas.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah in February campaigned with the head of the SSP, a group that has said all Shia Muslims should be killed.

Shahbaz was widely interpreted to have appealed publicly to the TTP in March not to attack Punjab because the PML-N also opposed American policy in the region.

He and the PML-N later said his words were taken out of context, but he was widely scorned in the media.

Vote banks: “I think there’s definitely a very mundane desire by the Sharifs to keep these groups on board so they can use their vote banks in elections,” said journalist and analyst Ahmed Rashid, an expert on militancy.

PML-N Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal denied there was anything improper about Sanaullah campaigning for the party with the head of the banned SSP.

“Those 48,000 votes he got, they were not extremists’ votes,” Iqbal said. “Politics in the rural areas are very tribal and clan based. When the candidates campaign, they try to maximise support.”

Playing politics: “They are just playing politics with Punjab because there is a PML-N government here,” he said. “It is bad politics if played on the issue of terrorism.”

The US and India have long demanded a crackdown on madrassas – key recruitment centres for banned groups. However, there has been little such action, as both parties fear a backlash from militants.

“There are many centres, madrassas in southern Punjab, which are run by these groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and so many of these,” Taseer told Reuters.

“I think you should recognise the fact that there are terrorists in Punjab and deal with them.”

Ahsan Iqbal said, unlike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where militants had taken control of territories, “not a single inch of Punjab is under the control of terrorist organisations”.

“Is the police going after the head honchos?” he said. “You certainly don’t get that sense at all.”

A real risk of a push against the groups would be that the state might lose. And even if operations were successful, the militants would likely scatter even more, leading to additional attacks from splinter groups.

“They don’t want to create a… security crisis in Punjab,” Rashid said. “But actually, there is one already, because the terrorists are not giving up.” reuters

Dangerous Repurcussions of Relgious Extremism in the Punjab

Dangerous Repurcussions of Relgious Extremism in the Punjab

Saad Khan

Saad Khan

Freelance journalist and activist from Islamabad.

More bloodshed that claimed the lives of more than 95 innocent worshipers. It has become an unfortunate reality in Pakistan to see attacks on mosques and places of worship. In fact, it is not just the last nine years that Pakistan has seen a cataclysmic increase in religious violence. Interestingly, religious violence waned after 9/11 and the subsequent Afghan invasion. The Taliban started hitting innocent civilians without even thinking once about their caste, creed or religion. Shopping centers, hotels and bus stops became their primary targets. Although the number of attacks — and subsequently causalities — rose to an an unprecedented level, there was little hint of victimization of any single religious group, or minority.

This impartiality of the Taliban — and their associated groups — has seen a major dip in recent years. There could be many reasons for that but the joining of Punjab-based sectarian groups, who were wielding immense support from the ISI during the Kashmir Jihad, in the Taliban ranks has exacerbated this problem.

Sectarian violence is not a recently emerged issue in Pakistan. It is now an open fact that sectarian groups started slitting the throats of their rival factions during the dictatorial rule of General Zia ul Haq. Saudi Arabia and Iran also jumped into the fray with their covert — and open — support of the Sunni and Shiite extremist groups, respectively.

Violence between these two factions took a turn for the worse in the 1990s when they started attacking each others’ mosques. That was the first time when mosque committees started hiring guards for protection; government provided police guards in large places of worship.

Violence against the Ahmadis, however, was not that blatant up until now. They are, of course, subjected to grave discrimination and are treated with contempt but only 109 people had lost their lives (Link in Urdu) before this attack since the declaration of the Ahmadi sect as non-Muslim in 1974, by the secular Bhutto government.

Now the total Ahmadi casualties are in between 160 and 180 as many dead in the recent attacks were policemen and bystanders and thus not from the community. If compared with the casualties between the warring Sunni-Shiite factions in Pakistan, this figure is minuscule. However, if compared with the total population of Ahmadis in Pakistan — at 0.22% — this death toll is astounding.

Ahmadis have remained a peaceful minority in Pakistan and have not taken up arms. Chances of them turning to the guns are still low despite this carnage. The repercussions of this attack, however, can be great with a serious fallout. These attacks will encourage other militant groups to attack the Ahmadis. Thus a minority, which is already living on the fringes with threats of violence, and people who are regularly subjected to tyrannical blasphemy laws, will be hard pressed to retaliate.

Punjab remains the center of most religious attacks and it also serves as the operational nerve center of sectarian groups. Christians, who are living relatively peacefully in Karachi and Islamabad, are subjected to harassment and blatant discrimination in the Punjab. Violent attacks are not uncommon and church burnings are not unheard of.

One wonders why these attacks are mostly concentrated in the Punjab when all provinces have Muslim majority populations. The answer lies in the blatant Islamization carried out by extremist organizations. They have instilled this false notion among common Punjabis that they are the protectors of Islam and Pakistan. Interestingly, the same notion is present among the Punjabi middle classes that constitute the major chunk of Pakistan’s armed forces. A blatant hatred for India and a delusion about the grandeur of Islam and them being its protectors has muddied the political and religious landscape in the province, and in Pakistan.

The same mentality resulted in Punjabis condoning the brutal military operations in Balochistan and before that, in Karachi and Sindh. Pakistani army merely reflects this notion of silencing every voice that it deems as a threat to Pakistan, without analyzing the parallels between treason and political repression.

Nawaz Sharif, the ex prime minister and the most popular opposition leader, has not said anything concrete against the rising militancy. His power base is in the Punjab and his reluctance to tackle the militancy and sectarian issue raises serious doubts about his policies. His party is already in power in the province and has failed to do anything about this issue. They are in cahoots with the militants? Nobody knows but yes they are afraid to stir up this hornet’s nest.

There needs to be something done about this false notion of superiority and the acceptance of militant organizations. Nawaz Sharif, who many say is counting his days to become the next PM of Pakistan, needs to tackle this issue without hesitation. There is already enough hatred of Punjab in other provinces and in Balochistan, Punjabis are being attacked. These innocent Punjabis, who are working as teachers, doctors and nurses, are victimized because an average Baloch thinks that they are responsible for his destitution. In actuality, it is the political leadership of Punjab, and more importantly, the military leadership that is responsible.

It is high time that both issues should be dealt with accordingly. Military leadership needs to stop political maneuvering and military operations in Balochistan. There is also a need for equal representation of other ethnic groups in the officers’ cadre of the armed forces. Similarly, it should start operations against the militant organizations in the Punjab, which it is hesitant to do so.

As for the political leadership of the Punjab, they need to educate their supporters to embrace and not disgrace. Blasphemy laws need to be repealed and religious organizations need to be reined in if they really want to stop this violence. Otherwise, we all are sitting on a volcano that is about to explode.

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Again, what Punjabi Taliban?

Again, what Punjabi Taliban?

By Ahmed Quraishi

The term Punjabi Taliban was not first coined by anyone in Pakistan, including the so-called Punjabi Taliban themselves. It was coined in the United States by self-styled terrorism experts.

Analyzing Pakistan in ethnic terms is a distinctly Indian practice that flourished after 1971. It moved to the United States during the China- and Pakistan-specific US-India strategic alliance of the 1990s. It found wide currency in American policymaking circles after 9/11 as US officials and media became increasingly hostile to Pakistan and receptive to anti-Pakistan ideas, including the fantastic idea of dividing Pakistan into three states, a la Iraq. It is interesting to note how the US media and think tanks followed the same Indian areas of interest in the last three years: from the initial talk about Pashtunistan to the extensive attention to the idea of an independent Balochistan and now Punjab.

For the Americans and Indians, Punjabi Taliban is euphemism for Kashmiri groups. The United States is not suffering in Afghanistan because of militants based in Punjab. India is. And as with everything else, the United States is using the Afghan war to give an indirect strategic favor to India. The whole talk about differences between Obama’s Washington and India is superficial. There is no sign yet that these differences affect the United States long term vision for India and its expanded strategic role in Afghanistan. The incumbent US administration is stuffed with Indian lobbyists and blunt India sympathizers.

India-inspired elements in Afghanistan have been using variations of the term Punjabi Taliban much before the Americans discovered it. They talked about Punjabi volunteers fighting along with Afghan Taliban. The ethnic part was deliberate since no one talked about the scores of Pakistani volunteers from Urdu-speaking, Kashmiri, Pashtun, Sindhi, and other Pakistani backgrounds. Singling out Pakistani Punjab has been a distinctly Indian practice for two reasons: One is the belief that Pakistan’s military brass is Punjabi-speaking and thus attacking Punjab [and especially attacking the officers and their families] is the only way to scare and hurt this brass. And second is that many Kashmiri freedom activists and groups resisting Indian atrocities took refuge in the plains of Punjab, for practical reasons of proximity to the conflict zone in Kashmir.

So the target this time is Pakistan’s support for pro-Kashmir groups. This perfectly syncs with how our American friends have recently been coming up with outlandishly bizarre theories about the ‘global ambition and reach’ of Kashmiri groups such as Lashkar e Tayyeba, which is a localized group at best and a result of Indian atrocities in Kashmir. Instead of helping India and Pakistan resolve Kashmir, our American allies are opportunistically browbeating us into starting a war in Punjab in the name of Punjabi Taliban.

Many Pakistanis know this, but some elements in our government are appeasing the Americans and using foriegn-coined names for groups that did not exist as recently as three years ago.

What is confusing Pakistanis is the actual presence of leftovers from sectarian groups that were financed by two Mid-Eastern countries in the 1980s and ‘90s. That funding is nearly over now but the sectarian cadres are now being used by other terrorists, including the TTP. In other words, someone is recruiting our assets and using them against us. And it makes sense. If we can do it, so can others. One of the terrorists involved in murdering Pakistani Ahmedis in Lahore confessed he was misled into thinking he was targeting the creators of blasphemous cartoons. Last year a terrorist who attacked a military industrial unit said he was told Americans, and not ordinary Pakistani mechanics and engineers, were working there.

This brings us to foreign meddling in Pakistan. Our national security managers erred when they allowed foreign spy agencies direct access to Afghan and Kashmiri religious groups during the 1992-95 Bosnia war. Brits, Americans and Saudis used Pakistani assets to wage a proxy war in the Balkans against Russia. This process created multiple agents within Pakistani ranks. These multiple agents who are Pakistanis and operate in the name of religion are suspected now to be working on multiple agendas considering the fluid security situation on our eastern and western borders.

The writer works for Geo television. Email:

Punjabi Taliban claims responsibility for NATO convoy attack in Pakistan 2010-06-09 15:43:55

At least eight were killed, five injured when 10 to 12 unknown gunmen reportedly attacked 50 NATO tankers carrying oil and other essentials for supply in Afghanistan near Islamabad early morning on June 9, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

ISLAMABAD, June 9 (Xinhua) — The Punjabi Taliban, a group of disbanded Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Wednesday accepted the responsibility for the attack of a NATO supply convoy near Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad late Tuesday night, which killed at least 8 Pakistani nationals and wounded another 6 in addition to the destruction of some 60 trucks, local sources told Xinhua.

The attack took place in a parking lot at Tarnol area, some 50 km southwest of Islamabad, at around 11:30 p.m. local time. Witnesses told Xinhua some 30 unknown gunmen attacked the 60-plus NATO vehicles carrying oil tankers and other essentials for supply in Afghanistan. The attackers opened the fire at the fleet parked there indiscriminately and then set the oil tankers on fire.

Shortly after the incident happened, the local police rushed to the site for rescue work and conducted a large scale search operation in the nearby area. Police sources said that some of the attackers have fled the site while 26 suspected people at the site were arrested.

The fire set on the NATO vehicle fleet were put off in early Wednesday morning, said the police sources, adding that the injured people have all been shifted to a nearby hospital.

An official with the Islamabad police department said that ensuring safety of oil tankers is the responsibility of NATO.

Witnesses told Xinhua when the attack was launched there was only one security guard at the parking lot to protect the NATO fleet parked there.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered a probe into the incident and demanded a report on the attack in three days.

Nato convoy attacked by gunmen in Pakistan

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50 NATO trucks torched on Motorway, 4 people dead

LAHORE: Unidentified militants attacked and set fire to a convoy of about 50 tankers and containers of the NATO forces heading towards Peshawar on the Motorway, in the Sangjani area of Ternol near Islamabad, a private TV channel reported on Tuesday. According to the television channel, four people were killed in the attack while another three were injured. Police sources said the convoy was heading towards Peshawar carrying oil and food supplies for the NATO forces. The vehicles and the supply items were completely burnt in the attack, the sources said. The Capital Development Authority has sent five fire-brigade vehicles to extinguish the fire, the channel reported. Rehman Malik, the federal minister for Interior, has asked security agencies to probe into the incident and present a report. No militant organisation has as yet claimed responsibility for the incident, the channel said. Law enforcement agencies have arrested some 26 people in Islamabad and recovered weapons from them, the channel said. daily times monitor

What Is the Military Objective of Latest Balochistan Operation? Why Now?

[Who is the Pak Army pursuing in their latest major assault upon the Baloch people?  Why is that particular piece of ground being taken over?  Is it to oppose any US plans for the zone?  In support of American plans for the zone, or to support the Kandahar offensive by blocking the borer?  Only the generals know this answer and they never answer questions.]

WPP protests in Islamabad against military operation in Mekran

on 2010/6/8 2:00:00 (24 reads)
Islamabad: The Worker’s Party Pakistan organized a day-long protest camp at Aabpara chowk to condemn the intensification of military operations in the Dasht area of Mekran division and the simultaneous lack of government relief efforts in the same region which has been ravaged by Cyclone Phet over the past few days. Dozens of party activists manned the camp throughout the day and welcomed visitors from other political parties, student organizations, trade unions as well as ordinary citizens who came to express solidarity with the people of Mekran.

WPP Punjab general secretary Zahoor Khan said that the camp had been set up to inform working people in the twin cities as well as Punjab about state repression in Balochistan and warn of the dangers of ordinary Punjabis not voicing resistance to the oppression of the Baloch people. He said that through the late 1960s right uptil the secession of east Pakistan there was similar silence in Punjab in the face of repression against the Bengali people and that it was this silence which fueled the separatist movement. Zahoor Khan said that alienation in Balochistan is intensifying with each passing day and said that the ongoing military operation in Mekran in spite of the devastation of the Cyclone Phet is the most pointed indicator of the state’s attitude towards the Baloch people.

The WPP leadership lamented the lack of media reporting on the operation in and around the Dasht area. They said that despite promises by the federal government, the kidnappings of Baloch youth continues in earnest, and particularly in Mekran. They also noted that despite the presence of many navy vessels and other major military infrastructure on the Mekran coast, there had been no aid supplies provided to the thousands who have been displaced from their homes due to the cyclonic conditions.

Zahoor Khan also condemned the constant polemic spewed out by state functionaries about the Baloch nationalist movement being funded by ‘external forces’. He said that the Baloch demands for control over their own mineral resources, the establishment of a genuine federal system of government, and the protection of Baloch cultural heritage are genuinely popular and these sentiments must be acknowledged so as to prevent further radicalization of society. … itary-operation-in-mekran

Gwadar Area Declared Disaster Zone–Exclusive Photos, Baloch Hal

The Baloch Hal News

GWADAR: The Provincial Chief Minister, Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, on Tuesday declared three Tehsils of Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwanri as calamity-hit areas and assured all help to the affected people.

Accompanied by a team of orovincial ministers and local officials, the Chief Minister undertook a visit to the parts of Gwadar where he had met the people inquiring about their problems following cyclone and rains.

Talking to the affected people in Gwadar on Tuesday, Nawab Raisani announced that the Government would provide Rs 5000 to each affected family as a help sustain the present difficulties.

He said that the Government would not leave the affected people alone in this hour of difficulty and provide all possible help to the needy and affected people. The Chief Minister said that the Government would rehabilitate the people and ensure that they return to their normal life with the help of the Government.

The Chief Minister undertook a flying visit to Kolanch, Pasni and Jiwani and made a personal assessment of the extent of damage to the regional economy and to the people in the cyclone and torrential rains.

He issued instructions to the Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Coast Guards and other Federal agencies deployed in the coastal regions to undertake rescue and relief operations minimizing the agonies of the people. He instructed them to undertake the responsibility on war footing ensuring relief to the people, including women and children.

He announced that the Government had already released Rs 60 million for the affected people and the Government would release more funds meeting the requirements of the people. Nawab Aslam Raisani made a commitment that the Government would adequately compensate the losses the affected people suffered.

Referring to his meeting with the Prime Minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani said that Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had assured him of all Federal help to the calamity-hit people of Balochistan Coast. He said that the Federal Government would fully compensate the affected people rehabilitating their regional economy at the earliest.

“The first step of the Government is to rescue the people from distress and provide them shelter first and then other comforts and relief,” Nawab Aslam Raisani told the gathering in Gwadar.

He said he had asked the local administration, including the Pakistan Navy and Coast Guards officials, to prepare a credible list of losses so that the affected people are compensated.

Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, Lt-General Nadeem, had a meeting with the Chief Minister and briefed him about the extent of damages and plans to rehabilitate the people.

World Hunger

World Hunger

Clemente Ferrer

An infant’s semblance is the image of an adult’s moral condition. Any civilization that fights against infancy is a world that has lost all sorts of hope. Infancy in poverty, sacrifice, and abuse is a crime against humanity that will sooner or later be judged by its own descendents.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 50 million children are not registered under any record. It is almost 100 million the abortions that are annually conducted throughout the world. It is more than 120 million children that lack basic nourishment. About 50,000 children die of Gasusa on a daily basis. Not to mention that 1 out of 4 children less than five years will live the effects of pauperism, anemia, paralysis, and physical and mental deficiencies. About 250,000 children are estimated to die from measles each year.

On the other hand, child mortality rate varies according to the world’s geographic regions. In rich countries, child mortality rate approximately 6 for every 1,000 successful child births. Moreover, in Latin America the rate is about 31 for every 1,000, in Southern Asia 89 for every 1,000, and in Sub-Saharan Africa 169 for every 1,000. It is approximately 25 million under aged children that live in refugee camps. They are picked up from war conflicts. About 16 million children are orphans, one of the reasons being AIDS. And, around 80% of them live in Africa.

It is also estimated that 400 million children are slaves, due to the tyranny of exploitation. Among them there are children in forced labor – due to the poverty their families merely survive within – in the fields of agriculture, mines, industries, and as landowners’ own slaves. Actually, there are about 500,000 child soldiers and approximately 2 million children are used for sexual ends; they are treated like crude sex objects.

Lastly, the Annual FAO Report, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World” of 2009, promotes “the right to food” as a “basic human right enshrined in international law”. Furthermore, the right to food has the “overarching objective of promoting the well-being of humanity and the dignity of every human being”. Hunger is an offence to human dignity. (Translated by Gianna A. Sanchez-Moretti)

Author and journalist Clemente Ferrer has led a distinguished career in Spain in the fields of publicity and press relations. He is currently President of the European Institute of Marketing.

He can be reached at

Towards a New Strategy For Pakistan

Musharraf reversed the pro-Taliban Afghan policy. He allowed Pakistan to support the imperial occupation of Afghanistan. The reversal can only be condoned to the extent that it finally exposed the abuse of Pakistan and Afghanistan for American imperial designs.  The US imperial game in Af-Pak is destroying the economy that sustains all other facets of Pakistan’s sovereignty. We are holding on to the begging bowl and will sink deeper unless we end the war and take steps to regain our sovereignty. American pundits are saying the war is unwinnable and the coalition of the willing is no longer willing: Israel and India stand exposed for their role as imperial tools. American strategy is receiving setbacks that an economically weakening super power is finding difficult to cope with.

We need to understand our interests in the war’s end game. Leadership is about knowing your interests and maximising your power to create political space to freely pursue them. In international relations there are no enemies and no friends; strategy is employed to create your own space for manoeuvre. In the absence of a credible strategy our space is being compressed by American occupation and demands to eliminate al Qaeda to protect American controlled Muslim governments’ interests. No Pakistani interest is being served by fighting al Qaeda unless those governments demonstrate visible action to stop funding and arming our religious right.

America and Pakistan benefitted in their own ways from this alliance. Our common ground on the future of this region ended after USSR collapsed. Pakistan’s survival depends on ending any illusion we have about our alliance with the US. America is not an enemy; it pursued its interests after the collapse of the USSR because we ceded it space to do so.

We need to regain our space. Should we continue to support the war of occupation? Should we allow undercover presence of unknown US agencies? Afghan and Pakistani soldiers and civilians are dying. This must stop. When the occupation ends, the patriotic fighters will lay down their arms; foreign funding of thugs conducting mayhem will stop; we will be able to handle the “mercenaries by economic default” through a policy of alternative employment and education. Pakistanis do not want theocratic control of the state. The religious right has never won more than three per cent votes in elections. This highlights the small strength of externally funded militants. Without America, Israel, India and Muslim monarchies and revolutionaries in the mix, we may be able to eliminate internal militancy even without a military solution.

There is a lot to be grateful to America for. We have survived; we have become a regional conventional, sub-conventional, and even nuclear power with their “tacit ignorance”. We can now become an economic power, and give our people the Pakistan that the Quaid wanted for them. The re-construction of Af-Pak, building of trade corridor infrastructure, pipelines and infrastructure will see investment and job creation with exponential expansion of this region’s economies.

We must frame an independent national security strategy and let American forces go home without disgrace. There will be many common interests with America emerging in the future. All options should remain open. The hand of friendship must be extended to all in the region, and to America, for more equitable relationships. We should start behaving like the nuclear and regional power that we have struggled for over six decades to become.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 9th, 2010.