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Peshawar carnage: Condemnations pour in from home and world

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 08:29

As hundreds of children perished in one of the bloodiest insurgent attack in the country in recent years, condemnations poured in from across the globe against the heinous attack. 

Here are some the reactions from world leaders and personalities:

French President Francois Hollande condemned what he described as a “vile” attack on a school in Pakistan Tuesday that has killed at least 130 people, the majority children.

“No words can express the ignominy of such an attack against children in their school,” Hollande said in a statement.

The president said that France “supported the government of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism” and expressed solidarity with the victims and their parents.

AmbOlson Extends Condolences to Families of Army Public School Attack Victims

— US Embassy Islamabad (@usembislamabad) December 16, 2014

“On behalf of the American people, US Ambassador Richard Olson extends the deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of Tuesday’s heinous attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar,” a statement by the US embassy in Islamabad states.

“The United States strongly condemns senseless and inhumane attacks on innocent students and educators, and stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and all who fight the menace of terrorism.”

“Few have suffered more at the hands of terrorists and extremists than the people of Pakistan. That is why it remains essential for the United States and Pakistan to continue to work together to secure peace and stability in the region,” it adds.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemns attack on school in Peshawar.

Strongly condemn the insane/coward attack on a school in K.Pakhtunkhwa. I seek patience/strength from Allah(swt) to the families of victims.

— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) December 16, 2014

Germany condemns ‘cruel cowardice’ of Peshawar school attack

Germany on Tuesday condemned the “cruel cowardice” of a Taliban attack that killed at least 130 people, most of who are children.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement he condemned the “criminal attack in the strongest terms”.

“The hostage-taking and murder of children exceeds in its cruel cowardice all that Pakistan, stricken by years of terror and violence, has known before.

“We mourn with the people of Pakistan the victims of this bloody terrorist attack. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. For the many injured we wish speedy recoveries.”

Further, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth also said “there is no justification for Taliban attack on schoolchildren.”

Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief, expressed her condolences for the victims and their families.

Thoughts & prayers for the families of those school children brutally murdered today in Peshawar.

— Jemima Khan (@Jemima_Khan) December 16, 2014

Former Minister of State for Faith and Communities Sayeeda Warsi condemns the horrific attack on children and teachers.

Horrifying attack on a school in #Peshawar #Pakistan Utter condemnation for this barbaric targeting of children.

— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) December 16, 2014

Terrorism in #Pakistan will only be defeated if Politicians, Army and Intelligence services are prepared 2 work together 2 the same agenda

— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) December 16, 2014

My thoughts and prayers with the families in #Pakistan who today mourn the death of their loved ones.

— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) December 16, 2014

Indian tennis player Sania Mirza Artiste Javed Akhtar tweet about the innocent lives lost in the attack on Tuesday.

Akthar terms it as a “black day for humanity”.

Please God..hav mercy on the kids and their families..this is heart breaking and painful..What has humanity come to :( #Peshawar

— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) December 16, 2014

104 innocent children are killed by Talibans In Peshawar . A black day for humanity .

— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) December 16, 2014

104 innocent children are killed by Talibans In Peshawar . A black day for humanity .

— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) December 16, 2014

UK Prime Minister David Cameroon condemns the attack, and said it was “horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school”.

The news from Pakistan is deeply shocking. It's horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school.

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) December 16, 2014

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the “cowardly” attack.

Modi branded the attack “a senseless act of unspeakable brutality” and said India shares rival Pakistan’s pain.

Strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist attack at a school in Peshawar.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 16, 2014

It is a senseless act of unspeakable brutality that has claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings – young children in their school.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 16, 2014

My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain & offer our deepest condolences.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 16, 2014

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier said the attack exposed the “real face of terrorism”.

I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a school at Peshwar(Pakistan). This dastardly & inhuman attack exposes the real face of terrorism

— Rajnath Singh (@BJPRajnathSingh) December 16, 2014

My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshwar. I express my condolences to those families

— Rajnath Singh (@BJPRajnathSingh) December 16, 2014

Former Indian batsman Virender Sehwag tweets about the innocent lives lost in the attack.

“As a father, this pain kills me,” he tweeted.

My prayers go out to the hostages & innocent lives lost in #PeshawarAttack. Barbaric, senseless cowardice. As a father, this pain kills me

— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) December 16, 2014

Indian Test cricketer Parthiv Patel send his thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims.

Gutted to see the #peshawar news…can't even imagine wht parents of the children must be gng thru..thoughts and prayers with thm…

— parthiv patel (@parthiv9) December 16, 2014

Former England cricket skipper Michael Vaughan terms the incident as that of cowardice.

Cannot believe what I am seeing in Pakistan..greatest act of bloody coward ness..Killing kids in school… #Pakistansiege

— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) December 16, 2014

Can anyone tell me how killing 82 children can improve your beliefs/Religion/Country ???? This world is sick… #PakSchoolAttack

— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) December 16, 2014

Malala “heartbroken” by Peshawar school slayings

Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai said she was “heartbroken” by “the senseless and cold blooded killing” of scores of children by Taliban militants in Peshawar.

“I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us. Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” Malala said in a statement.

“I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”

Saqlain Mushtaq, Former Pakistan Test Bowler, prays for the loss of innocent lives in the tragic incident.

My prayers are with the innocent school children who have lost there souls today in Peshawar.

— Saqlain Mushtaq (@Saqlain_Mushtaq) December 16, 2014

Pakistan cricket all-rounder Shahid Afridi expresses shock in regard to the incident.

Shocking news , don't have words to explain this brutality at Kpk School attacked. My heart and feelings all the way with all effectees.

— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) December 16, 2014

Categories: Pakistan & World News

'I saw death so close'

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 08:25

PESHAWAR: A teenage survivor of Tuesday’s Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar school described how he played dead after being shot in both legs by insurgents hunting down students to kill.

Militants rampaged through the army-run school in Peshawar and killed at least 130 people, most of them children, in one of the bloodiest ever attacks in Pakistan.

Speaking from his bed in the trauma ward of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital, Shahrukh Khan, 16, said he and his classmates were in a careers guidance session in the school auditorium when four gunmen wearing paramilitary uniforms burst in.

“Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks,” he said, adding that the gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) before opening fire.

“Then one of them shouted: ‘There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them’,” Khan told AFP.

“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.”
Khan said he felt searing pain as he was shot in both his legs just below the knee.

He decided to play dead, adding: “I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream.

“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.

“My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me — I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.”

The Army Public School is attended by boys and girls from both military and civilian backgrounds.

As his father, a shopkeeper, comforted him in his blood-soaked bed, Khan recalled: “The men left after some time and I stayed there for a few minutes. Then I tried to get up but fell to the ground because of my wounds.

“When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire,” he said.

“She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.”

It was not immediately clear how the female employee’s body caught fire, though her remains were also later seen by an AFP reporter in a hospital mortuary.

Khan, who said he also saw the body of a soldier who worked at the school, crawled behind a door to hide and then lost conciousness.
“When I woke up I was lying on the hospital bed,” he added.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Balochistan to soon become a land of peace: Gen Raheel

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 03:10

QUETTA: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has said a handful of elements spreading hatred and terrorism in Balochistan would be defeated completely and the province would soon become a land of peace, Radio Pakistan reported. 

Addressing the passing out parade of Balochistan recruits in Quetta on Tuesday, Sharif said Pakistan’s future is linked with the development of Balochistan and it is a matter of satisfaction that the people of Balochistan have rejected all the anti-state elements.

He said the armed forces of Pakistan are a symbol of national integrity and keeping in view this fact, thousands of youths of Balochistan have been inducted into the army as officers and soldiers.

The army chief said the incumbent Balochistan government has been taking all the possible measures for development of the province, and the Pakistan Army has been fully supporting it in all the fields including law and order.

“The Pakistan army is assisting the police and other law enforcement agencies with capacity building,” the army chief said, while addressing a passing out parade in Quetta.

Thanking Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch for being a part of the occasion, the army chief congratulated the cadets on their passing out.

“This day is not only memorable for you, but it is also memorable for Pakistan. It is an important day for the nation,” Raheel said.

He also said the Pakistan Army would recruit Baloch youth, adding, “I am sure the youth of Balochistan will not fall behind.”

“The progress of Balochistan is a priority for all of us, and Pakistan’s future is linked with the Balochistan’s progress,” the army chief said.

“It [Balochistan] will become an example of peace and prosperity.”

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Parts of Punjab, K-P, upper Sindh to remain foggy for next few days

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 01:19

KARACHI: Parts of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and upper Sindh will remain foggy in morning hours over the next two to three days, Pakistan Meteorological Department forecast stated on Tuesday morning.

According to the advisory, Motorway M3 (Pindi Bhattian-Faisalabad), sectors of Motorway M2 (Islamabad-Lahore), and one sector of Motorway M1 (Peshawar-Islamabad) will experience dense fog.

The N-5 National Highway was also affected by fog, with Kharian to Lahore, Lahore to Multan, and Multan to Rahim Yar Khan covered in dense fog, while Rahim Yar Khan to Sukkur experiencing moderate to dense fog.

The Lahore-Peshawar motorway had only 10 to 30 meters of visibility, Express News reported.

On Motorway M-1, from Peshawar to Sawabi, there was only 10 meters of visibility, while visibility on M-2 between Lahore and Islamabad is 10 to 30 meters.

IG Motorway has instructed drivers to use alternative roads instead of the Motorway. Owing to very low visibility Motorway M-3 was shut down.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

LHC dismisses Ayaz Sadiq's writ petition against recounting in NA-122

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:52

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday dismissed National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq’s petitions against an election tribunal’s verdict in favour of vote recounting in NA-122 and tribunal judge Kazim Ali Malik, Express News reported. 

Sadiq had sought contempt charges against the judge, stating that the verdict of the tribunal was in violation of the Supreme Court’s earlier judgment.

The case, which was taken up on the plea of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, was inordinately delayed after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Sadiq, who won the NA-122 seat, obtained a stay order from the LHC.

The LHC dismissed Sadiq’s plea on November 20, allowing the tribunal to finally proceed with the case.

Further, the tribunal had asked the LHC registrar for a safe place to inspect the NA-122 poll records, and issued a detailed verdict observing that around 10 policemen would be needed to provide 24-hour security to ensure the poll record was not tampered with before or during inspection.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Aao Parhao: Campus drive kicks off at IBA

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:25


‘Jo Seekha Hai Woh Sab Ko Sekhao — Aao Parhao’ turned out to be the students’ catchphrase at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) with the launch of the nationwide campus drive on Monday in connection with the Express Media Group’s campaign to raise the profile of the teaching profession.

Through the campus drive, the ‘Aao Parhao’ campaign aims to help students acknowledge their teachers and hold dialogues with young graduates on how they can become a part of Pakistan’s education solution.

As the event began with the heart-warming Aao Parhao anthem for which the renowned artist, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, has lent his vocals, the IBA students, many of them dressed in the campaign t-shirts, waved the flags decorated with campaign’s emblem.

“We thank the Express Media Group for this lovely initiative to acknowledge our mentors, our all-time guardians and our inspiration — the teachers at the IBA,” said Hammad Mirza, a business administration student.

Three of the IBA teachers, Professor Leon Menezes, director at the IBA’s Career Development Centre, Dr Framji Minwalla, chairperson of the social science and liberal arts department and Dr Talat A Wizarat, a professor at the social science department, were awarded mementos in acknowledgement of their services to the teaching profession.

For Professor Menezes, who continues to creatively infuse the minds of his students as a mentor, adviser and an amazing teacher, the more important aspect of education, which nowadays is restricted within the bounds of a classroom, is to revitalise the sense of a society and civic responsibilities. “Around 20 per cent of my class lectures are about inculcating these values in my students, and so is the purpose of this campaign — inspire others to act for the betterment of society,” he said.

For many students at the prestigious institution of business administration, Muhammad Abrar — a grade 10 student who also teaches chemistry to lower-grade students at The Citizens Foundation’s (TCF) Qayyumabad campus – was kind of an inspiration.

“Before joining the TCF’s school in grade 6, I had never been to a school in my life,” said Abrar. “I was lucky to find good teachers who really helped me to a degree that I am not only speaking in English today but also sharing what I have learnt with others.”

For millions of out-of-school children in Pakistan who never get a chance like he had, Abrar said that we can either wait for the government to do something or we can change the future of Pakistani children through our contribution.

“This is not a passive campaign, it is a call-to-action with a specific objective,” said Zara Basharat, the campaign director. “The Express Media Group aims to raise the profile of the teaching profession — increase its value and respect in society thereby motivating and inspiring highly-qualified young adults to enter the teaching force.”

The campaign, she added, is aimed at motivating highly qualified people to enter the teaching force, and to come together to celebrate the profession. “Through this call, we want to acknowledge their invaluable contributions and to request them to embrace their responsibility of nation building,” said Basharat.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Sadiq insulted: Man held for chanting ‘go Nawaz, go,’

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:19

LAHORE: National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq was left red faced when a man chanted “go Nawaz, go” in his face.

According to sources, the NA Speaker was about to board Kuwait Airlines flight KU206 from Benazir International Airport, Islamabad, when on-duty traffic assistant Rizwan cried out loud “go Nawaz, go,” after which Sadiq, instead of boarding the plane, went back and called the airport security.

The Speaker directed the Airport Security Force officials to arrest and hand over the man to police and file charges against him.

ASF officials promptly took Rizwan into custody, confiscated his cell phone and duty card and handed him over to the police.

ASF officials told Express Investigation Cell that Traffic Assistant Rizwan was handed over to police along with a written complaint on the direction of NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

However, the police officer concerned, Afzal, said that Rizwan was released after brief investigation. “No clause of law could be framed against Rizwan, therefore he was allowed to go,” he said.

However, sources said, that Rizwan’s case has been forwarded to DSP Legal to see if a criminal charge could be framed against him.

Meanwhile, sources in the airline claimed that Rizwan was still in police custody and has been shifted from the police station to an undisclosed location.

In this regard, when the ASF Company Commander Raja Maroof was approached for comments, he said he was not on duty when the incident happened.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Interpretation: Imran’s Plan C stands for casualties, says Pervaiz

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:11


Federal Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid on Monday said that the ‘Plan C’ of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was not aimed at promoting chaos and anarchy but for causing ‘casualties’ to the common people.

Four people lost their lives in Lahore on Monday due to Imran Khan’s politics of agitation and violence, he maintained. The minister expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of four lives. He also expressed condolences with the bereaved families.

The minister said there was no logic of agitation as the government had already written a letter for the constitution of Judicial Commission on August 13. Imran, he said, should have announced at that time that he would accept the decision of the judicial commission. But he himself was a hurdle in the constitution of the commission, he asserted.

Rashid said the people of Lahore had totally rejected the politics of agitation and sit-ins introduced by the PTI. “The moment Imran leaves his Bani Gala residence, he tramples over the corpses of people,” he added.

He said the Punjab government fully facilitated the PTI but it violated its promise by resorting to violence, closure of roads and shops, and blocking the way of ambulances.

“We have seen at the Multan rally that people were dying but Imran Khan continued his speech. Same was repeated in Faisalabad and D-Chowk Islamabad and today four more people became victim of his stubbornness,” he added.

The minister said all this happened due to provocative speeches of PTI’s leadership. “The tigers of PTI are in fact wolves.”

He said not a single person had died in the movement for restoration of judiciary and the political movements of other leaders. The PTI, he added, was promoting intolerance and violence in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Legislative business: President summons Senate session

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:09

ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Monday summoned a session of the upper house of parliament for December 19 (Friday).

The 109th Senate session has been summoned a day after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) call for a country-wide shut-down on December 18.

According to a statement issued by the presidency, the Senate session, which is slated to begin later this week, has been summoned on the advice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The session will be prorogued on the conclusion of its business, it further added.

During the last session, opposition lawmakers had warned the government that the fledgling democratic system in the country was still vulnerable to threats.

In a veiled warning to the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) administration, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had made it clear that it would not come to the government’s rescue each time it is embroiled in a political crisis.

Despite the resumption of negotiations with PTI, the government is yet to constitute a judicial commission to probe irregularities in the electoral process which has been tainted with allegations of vote fraud.

Though the Senate has not announced the agenda for the upcoming session, discussion over the political stalemate and government’s strategy to resolve the protracted crisis are likely to dominate the session.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Illegal detention: Take action against madrassa, says NA panel

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:06


A parliamentary panel on Monday rejected the Ministry of Human Rights’ report regarding the recovery of underaged girls from a house in Karachi and directed action against the madrassa from where the girls were removed.

The issue was taken up by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights.

Earlier in November, police raided a house in the Liaquatabad neighbourhood of Karachi and recovered 26 minor girls, apparently kept there in illegal detention as students of an unregistered seminary.

During the briefing, a representative of the Ministry of Human Rights informed the committee that the girls have been handed over to their parents but the committee rejected the report and sought details of all the girls.

Chairman Bashir Virk questioned representatives of the ministry regarding action against the madrassa. The committee expressed its apprehensions that these girls could have been smuggled abroad.

The ministry told the committee that all the girls have been handed over to their parents while three persons, who brought the girls to Karachi, have been arrested and are in jail.

Ayaz Somroo from the Pakistan Peoples Party pointed out that those arrested “have been released from the jail on bail”.

“Tell us whether the madrassa was registered, what course is taught there and where is Hameeda Bibi [patron of madressah] who had brought them there earlier,” the committee asked the ministry.

The committee also directed the ministry not to rely on the police report in this case and instead visit Karachi for a detailed and comprehensive investigation.

“The Ministry of Human Rights have a huge budget but its performance is zero,” commented the chairman of the committee.

Urdu as an official language

Meanwhile, the committee deferred a bill from MNA Asiya Nasir of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam seeking an amendment in Article 251 of the Constitution for calling upon the government to make arrangements for using Urdu for official purposes from January 1, 2015.

Presently, Article 251 states: “The national language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for it being used for official and other purposes within 15 years from the commencing day.”

Nasir proposed that it should be made compulsory for all national institutions to use Urdu language during official visits.

The bill was deferred after a representative of the Ministry of Law and Justice informed the committee that it was waiting for advice of the Information Ministry. The officials also admitted that Urdu had not gained the status of national language in “true sense” so far.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Net users’ rights: IHC restrains govt from blocking websites

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:48

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) has restrained Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Evaluation of Websites (IMCEW) from blocking websites after its legality was challenged.

Justice Athar Minallah on Monday issued restraining orders in response to a petition of Bolo Bhi, an NGO which is working for the rights of internet users, which described the working of the committee as non-transparent and requested the court to declare it illegal.

Babar Sattar, the counsel for the petitioner while challenging the legal position of the committee, informed the court that the workings of the committee have been non-transparent and dubious.

The counsel told the court that the committee comes under Ministry of Information Technology and was constituted in 2006 through an executive order and for eight years it has been issuing orders for content takedown without any meeting of members which is illegal. “There is no public record of its members and meetings,” he argued.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that the committee has no legal standing and it has arbitrarily conferred upon itself powers.

Justice Minallah also issued notices to chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and secretary ministry of information technology and sought their reply in two weeks. .

The court also sought a detailed report of blocked websites and also asked the ministry to submit minutes of the meeting of the committee.

After preliminary hearing the court adjourned the matter for two weeks. It may be noted that PTA blocked many websites and Facebook pages on the direction of the committee.

In a press release issued later, the NGO said through an assessment of its constituting documents, which was obtained by the NGO through a right to information request filed earlier this year, the requests the PTA was to act upon were limited to blasphemous and pornographic content. However, the committee’s directives have extended well beyond that.

According to the press release, two years of conversation and research and observing the prevailing practice has revealed the committee is prone to political hijacking and pressure. It has been used to personal and political ends to stem ‘undesirable’ and dissenting opinion.

Facebook’s most recent transparency report is a testament to that. The report reveals 1,773 pieces of content were restricted by Facebook in compliance with Pakistan government requests, not only on grounds of blasphemy but also ‘criticism of the state’, the statement said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Fire erupts in Karachi building

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:41

KARACHI: A fire erupted in a building in Karachi on Tuesday, Express News reported.

People – who were trapped inside the building located near Baloch Colony bridge –  were rescued after they reached the top of the building using an emergency exit.

Five fire brigade are busy extinguishing the fire that erupted on the seventh floor of the building.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Promoting tolerance: Punjab proposes a minority friendly curriculum

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:30


The higher education department of Punjab is planning some major changes in the curricula to promote religious and social tolerance in view of the Supreme Court’s observations in its June 18 verdict regarding the protection of minority rights.

The three judge bench, headed by chief justice Nasirul Mulk, will resume hearing of the case on Tuesday (today), wherein the federal and all provincial governments will submit their reports. Punjab home secretary, through Additional Advocate General Punjab Razaq A Mirza, has submitted a compliance report in the matter regarding the implementation of court’s judgment on the protection of minority rights.

The Punjab government in its report stated that the provincial higher education department had constituted a committee to give its recommendations for the inclusion in the college curriculum. The committee has given seven recommendations in this regard.

The committee proposed that myopic interpretation to be discouraged and the students to interpret religion in the spirit of Islamic liberalism, which says that “message of all faith is common and for benefit of the entire humanity”. Students will learn they are “different worshippers of a peaceful God”. They will learn to act upon the dictum “Love God and your neighbour”, it suggested.

The students will learn that “the spirit of pluralism reflected in the Holy Quran constantly points out that Muhammad (PBUH) had not proceeded to eliminate older religions.”

The proposed changes in curriculum further suggested that students will understand that “we are all members of one race of humans with similar challenges and we cannot confront these challenges without forging a common alliance. Sectarian, racial and ethnic biases will be discouraged,” it asserted.

The report submitted by provincial authorities stated that on the basis of these recommendations, specific suggestions have been prepared for changes in the curricula for language, social sciences, Islamiat and Psychology. According to a report of Schools Education Department, the top court’s instructions have been followed in the textbooks of different classes.

The report further revealed that five per cent quota has been reserved for minorities for all services in the province. “Special efforts are made for intelligence gathering and strict instructions are issued accordingly from time to time for the security of minorities and their worship places.”

Report on Kot Radha  Kishan incident

Submitting a report over Kot Radha Kishan incident, wherein the Christian couple was burnt alive in a brick kiln on November 4, the Punjab police told the apex court that 138 persons were nominated as accused but only 59 are arrested in this case so far.

“The postmortem report also reveals that the cause of death of both the victims is burning with dry heat,” it submitted. The report was submitted by DCO Kasur and RPO Sheikhupura region, wherein it was stated that a joint investigation team (JIT), headed by SP Investigation Kasur, probed the case and hectic efforts are afoot to arrest the remaining accused.

About the collection of circumstantial evidences, the report tells that tractor trolley, broken articles including TV, papers including “Taweez” etc, broken lock, torn police uniforms and wooden rods used for torturing the couple have been taken into custody.

The report also said that police have been deployed in different areas to control any untoward situation.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Uplift projects: Our plan-D is development, not destruction, says PM Nawaz

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 17:07


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday that demonstrations and negotiations cannot go hand-in-hand and no one would be allowed to create hurdles in the way of progress and development of the country.

He expressed these views while addressing a foundation stone-laying ceremony for the renovation of the 357km-long Islamabad-Lahore M-2 Motorway.

As Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has already announced its Plan-D to shut down the entire country on December 18, PM Nawaz has come up with his own version of Plan-D and dubbed it ‘development’.

He said the word ‘D’ can mean both: development or destruction. However, he believes in development unlike those who are bent upon ‘destruction’.

“No one would be allowed to create any hurdle in the way of progress and development of Pakistan,” the prime minister maintained as he unveiled his development plans including construction of roads, infrastructure and end to power crisis.

“The people of Pakistan have already rejected those who are trying to push the country over the edge,” he said while addressing a large gathering at the Balkasar Interchange.

The prime minister said hurdles against his government were not new and those who hold protests and demonstrations against him regularly travel on the same road they use to criticise.

He said a lot of hue and cry was raised when work on Lahore-Islamabad Motorway was initiated.

However, the whole project was completed with honesty, transparently and devotion. Despite the efforts of opponents, no one could find even a shred of evidence against the project.

PM Nawaz hoped that when his party goes back to polls in 2018, they will proudly carry with them fulfilled promises such as an end to load-shedding, lowering of exchange rate, completion of mega development projects, lower inflation, elimination of extremism and terrorism.

Without naming PTI, he told the audience that on the contrary, his opponents would show off how they closed down cities and staged protests, arson and looting; created obstacles in the path of progress and development; launched attack on parliament; inflicted damage to democracy and did nothing constructive.

“They are damaging entire Pakistan as they damaged one province,” he said.

The prime minister said he was pleased to be there on the renovation and improvement of the six-lane Lahore-Islamabad Motorway section, adding that the road was a wonder when it was constructed around 16 years ago.

He mentioned that the modernisation of the M-2 Motorway would jointly be undertaken by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and National Highway Authority (NHA) within a stipulated time of three years.

Though the FWO chief, PM Nawaz said, has assured him of completing the road in the shortest possible time.

He said the overlaying, fencing, beautification of the road would make travel along it a wonderful experience.

He said that the government was not seeking any loans from abroad for the construction of the road. On the contrary, FWO would pay an amount of Rs206 billion to the government of Pakistan over the agreement period, besides looking after the road. The very first day the project kicks off, Rs9.5 billion would be paid to the government, he added.

Premier Nawaz also assured that the proposal by FWO for setting up industrial zones would be undertaken on priority by the government and a feasibility would be prepared in due course.

He lauded FWO for constructing roads in parts of Baluchistan where no private organisation was willing to work. The next project, PM Nawaz announced, would be the motorway from Karachi to Lahore, Peshawar to Kabul, and Kashgar to Gwadar.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

‘Plan C’: Lahore lockdown

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 17:05


As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) paralysed life in Punjab’s provincial capital on Monday, Imran Khan warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to form the proposed election inquiry commission, or else his party will make it difficult for him to govern the country.

“Mian sahib, form the proposed judicial commission to probe into rigging in the 2013 elections, or else we will make governance difficult for you,” Imran said while addressing thousands of PTI supporters at Charing Cross on Monday.

PTI workers had blocked 28 key points of Lahore since morning. Business activities in the city remained nearly suspended as majority of mainstream trading areas were closed. They burnt tyres, put up barbed wire and barricades on the city’s main roads. Few shops on main arteries were open as the shopkeepers didn’t want to take risk. However, most markets located in the periphery of the main roads were open, but with little economic activity.

Babu Sabu Interchange and Thokar Niaz Beg – two entry points of the city – were also blocked for traffic early in the day. Commuters travelling to Lahore by buses were seen lugging their bags on the roads.

According to officials, 15,000 policemen were deployed at 28 points in the city while 3,600 traffic police officials were deployed across the city to ensure a smooth flow of traffic.

Expressing joy over the success of his call, the PTI chief thanked Lahoriites “for proving to Nawaz Sharif that the 2013 elections were rigged”. Imran said the entire nation has given its verdict against the rigged elections by coming out on the streets. “Lahore had witnessed massive rigging during the previous elections”, he said, “I want to thank you all for coming out on your own.”

However, the PTI chief also urged Nawaz Sharif to get back to the negotiating table. “We are a democratic party. We want to see transparent elections in our country,” he said.

During his speech Imran made several references to the ongoing talks between his party and the government. He added that if the government sat for talks with the PTI’s negotiating team, a judicial commission could be formed within the next 48 hours.

“If left with no other option, we will come out on the streets,” he said. But he insisted that the party wanted to remain peaceful. “We have always held peaceful protests.  Now, this nation wants justice,” he said.

Imran also lashed out at Punjab’s former law minister and said it was Sanaullah’s ‘goons’ that had caused the clashes on December 8 between the workers of the PML-N and the PTI – an event that resulted in the death of PTI worker Haq Nawaz.

“Rana Sanaullah should be put in jail,” he added.

Taking notice of an incident earlier in the day, involving misbehaviour of some PTI supporters with television journalists, Imran asked his workers to respect the media and women. “The media should be protected. If it weren’t for the media, today we wouldn’t have been here,” he said.

“I see a new Pakistan. I see a new country. If Nawaz Sharif doesn’t return to the table, Lahoriites, be prepared. My next plan is ready,” he added.

Imran was scheduled to visit Thokar Niaz Baig, Babu Sabu and Chungi Amer Sindhu among other protest points but later cancelled the plan due to time constraints.

Govt blames PTI causing damage

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said Lahore has rejected PTI’s call for strike. He said businesses opened as usual in all important markets of the metropolis. “However, some shops were forcibly shut down by the PTI and trade was affected in areas where the protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads,” he added.

The Punjab government criticised the PTI for “damaging public property and causing inconvenience to general public” and invited Imran to take up his demand for formation of a judicial commission in parliament.

The government also announced to Rs0.5 million compensation to families of two youngsters – a 17-day-old girl and a 15-year-old boy – who allegedly died on Monday as they could not reach Children’s Hospital due to PTI’s roadblocks.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Blackout was a result of Guddu power plant's mismanagement: report

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 06:57

ISLAMABAD: After large swathes of the country were in the dark for six hours following a massive breakdown at the national power grid on December 12, the Ministry of Water and Power on Sunday submitted a report of the breakdown to the premier leading to the suspension of three members of Guddu power plant.

As per the investigation report of the Ministry of Water and Power, the power outage was due to the negligence and lack of coordination on the part of Guddu power plant management.

“The 220 to 500 KV step-up grid station at Guddu was overloaded and resulted in the tripping of the Northern transmission system,” the report stated.

The report resulted in action against Guddu Genco CEO Rukhsar Qureshi, resident engineer Maula Buksh and senior shift engineer Mohammad Momin, who have been suspended from their posts.

The breakdown resulted in power outages in districts of Peshawar, Mardan, Sawabi, Azad Jammu Kashmir, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Attock, Chakwal, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore and Multan.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Two players banned from tonight's Champions Trophy final despite Pakistan apology to India

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 04:07

Amid a brewing controversy over Pakistan hockey team’s behaviour after their historic win against India in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, the International Hockey Federation has banned two Pakistan players for ‘uncouth behaviour’ from the final against Germany tonight.

Muhammad Tauseek and Amjad Ali will not be allowed to play in today’s final. While, Shafqat Rasool has been warned about his conduct.

Meanwhile, Pakistan hockey team goalkeeper Imran Butt says they will appeal to the tournament director before the match to lift the ban of two players.

The decision is in stark contrast to an earlier statement by the tournament’s director Wiert Doyer who had then said he had investigated the incident and did not deem it necessary to take action against anyone.

“I have spoken to Shahnaz and told him that the behaviour of Pakistan players went beyond what is acceptable to standards of the FIH,” Doyer said in the statement issued by the world governing body.

“The behaviour in question concerned many members of the Pakistan team. It is difficult to find any particular miscreant, and it is possible that the behaviour of the players may have been a reaction.

“Mr. Shahnaz Sheikh has apologised and assured me that this behaviour will not occur again. Given these matters, I’ve decided that no further action is warranted,” Doyer said.

Earlier in the day, Hockey India President Narinder Batra said Pakistan would have to apologise for its ‘inappropriate’ behaviour, while also slamming the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH)’s decision to take “no further action” against Pakistan.

The president of India Hockey Federation Narinder Batra told The Express Tribune that the IHF should have taken a strong action on the players who took off their shirts and made obscene gestures towards the spectators and the media of India.

“I have asked the tournament director to take some strong action on the players otherwise we will boycott all the upcoming matches with Pakistan till  proper apology by Pakistani players,” said Batra. ”We have left the decision to be taken by the tournament management and hope a neutral action is taken.”

It seems tournament director Wiert Doyer caved into Indian pressure and accepted the host countries request for an unconditional apology from Pakistan. Doyer has asked the Pakistani management to ask their players to apologise in order to play the final match, a PHF official revealed to The Express Tribune.

Moments later, the head coach of Pakistan’s hockey team, Shahnaz Shaikh, apologised to the Indian team on behalf of the Pakistan team. Earlier, Shaikh had apologised to the tournament director but said that the reaction of the players was a reply to Indian spectators, while refusing to apologise as the incident happened in the “heat of the moment”.

Further, the India Hockey President had said FIH’s decision is unaccpetable to India, the Hockey India president wrote, “I am instructing my CEO to inform FIH that in case this kind of behaviour by teams is within normal and tolerable limits of FIH, then we may not be interested to host any more tournaments in India and the tournaments may be shifted to countries which tolerate this kind of nonsense and uncouth behaviour.”

Batra also said there will be no friendly series with Pakistan until their federation issues an unconditional apology.

“Further there will now be no friendly series on annual basis with Pakistan until an unconditional apology is received from Pakistan Hockey Federation on the uncouth and undesired behaviour of their athletes with spectators and media after the semi-finals on 13 December 2014,” he said.

As Pakistan edged past arch-rivals India 4-3 in a thrilling semi-final match at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar in India on Saturday, advancing to the final, team players removed their T-shirts to celebrate.

Last night, Pakistan team’s head coach Shahnaz Shaikh boycotted a press conference following objections over his team’s behaviour by Indian media.

Responding to the statements, Shaikh while speaking to The Express Tribune said, “The players only expressed their happiness over their victory and I wrote a written apology to the tournament director.”

A copy of Shahnaz Shaikh’s apology:

“If such reactions continue then the subcontinent and South Asia’s hockey will not benefit,” Shaikh warned.

Further, the coach said the team is focused on the match and are hopeful they will win the final.

Pakistan take on Olympic champions Germany in the final on Sunday night. The semi-final helped Pakistan avenge their defeat by India in the Asian Games final in South Korea in October that denied them a direct entry to the 2016 Olympics.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

A week on: Courtesy calls hold up poll commission meeting

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 03:44

ISLAMABAD: In his first week in office, the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Sardar Raza remained busy in accepting courtesy calls from opposition parties, especially the ones who had shown no trust in the other four members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The CEC’s appointment was made last week after a delay of over 16-months. During the long delay, the top electoral body worked on an ad-hoc basis, and many important tasks kept piling up, including key appointments in the top bureaucracy of the ECP.

The first formal engagement of the new CEC was his meeting with a delegation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). This was followed by his meetings with a delegation of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a meeting with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) delegate.

ECP sources said the new CEC has not held any formal meeting with ECP staff or members of the commission so far.

Without taking the four members into confidence, these courtesy calls with opposition parties were accepted by the CEC.

“Some of these parties not only expressed their reservations on the integrity of the members but also demanded their removal in their meeting with CEC. They do the same on live TV cameras outside thae ECP building,” ECP officials said, referring to PTI and JI delegations.

Unless they resign themselves, the CEC and four members of the ECP are appointed for a period of five years and cannot be removed without adopting a very complicated procedure provided in the constitution.

In the existing constitutional framework adopted through the 18th amendment in 2010, the CEC is merely a figurehead and all important decisions have to be made through joint decisions among the five top officials of the commission.

One of the reasons for the abrupt resignation of Raza’s predecessor Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim in July last year was that he felt powerless as head of the top electoral body, when three members of the commission rejected his decision to go for a review against a decision given by the Supreme Court under the then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The Justice Chaudhry-led bench had advanced the date of the presidential polls by accepting the plea of the incumbent government, which the then CEC thought was based on flimsy grounds.

The opposition parties protested that they were not given a chance to present their point of view before the court. Justice Ebrahim, a top jurist himself, viewed it as an encroachment of the top court in the administrative affairs of ECP and wanted to go for a review. However, his attempt was foiled by members of the commission through a majority vote of three against the move.

On Friday, the hearing date was fixed of an important election case in which Sindh chief minister was a party against Syed Ghous Ali Shah. However, ECP sources said that due to the CEC’s scheduled meeting with the JI delegation it was postponed for Monday.

The officials said since they had no formal meeting with their new boss, they do not know the priorities of the new CEC and how he would want to run the affairs of the commission.

“Except a few bureaucrats in the commission who always try to cosy up to every new boss, there was no formal meeting in the ECP during the week,” said officials, adding that there were over 100 important files pending at the office of new CEC which need his formal nod. They implied that with certain deliberate delay tactics, things are kept pending “just on the pretext that the new CEC would need to sign summaries”, the officials said, claiming that it was not a legal requirement but bureaucratic maneuvering to continue typical red-tapeism.

The appointment of Justice Raza came at a time when the post of the ECP is seen as tainted with allegations of failure to stop rigging in last year’s general elections. His important tasks include holding of the Local Government elections in three provinces which have been lingering on since 2009 and conducting new delimitations, an exercise that has always remained contentious. He would be leading the execution of electoral reforms, now pending with the Parliament for an approval. ECP is without its top bureaucrat – the secretary – a post that actually runs the affairs of the commission.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

NA-125 constituency: NADRA report shows 280 out of 1,254 votes fake

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 03:38


Over 20 per cent of the votes cast in Lahore’s NA-125 constituency were “bogus”, according to a National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) report.

The vote verification report – spread over 125 pages – was submitted to the election tribunal on Saturday.

NADRA checked a total of 1,254 votes and declared 280 bogus. The said votes were rejected for want of verification of thumbprint and CNIC numbers, whereas at some instances, one person had cast multiple votes, the report said.

The NA-125 seat was won by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. The runner-up was PTI candidate Hamid Khan, who challenged the results in the Election Tribunal seeking vote verification by NADRA.

The database registration authority submitted its report before the tribunal stating that among the five polling stations it had checked, 280 out of 1,254 votes were bogus and at one polling station one person had cast six votes, while at another 12 persons had cast their ballots twice.

The five polling stations that were checked by NADRA included PS-110, PS-107, PS-98, PS-6 and PS-5. Thumb-impressions of several of the voters at these five polling stations could not be verified.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Ahead of Kot Radha hearing: SC moved for minority rights protection

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 03:36

ISLAMABAD: With the Supreme Court scheduled to take the Kot Radha lynching case on December 16, the country’s Catholic prelates and religious congregation leaders have moved an application in the apex court asking for the implementation of the court’s June 19 landmark verdict about the protection of minorities’ rights and promotion of religious and social tolerance.

Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference and Major Superiors Leadership Conference of Pakistan submitted a six-point ‘charter of demands’ to the Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk on Saturday.

Both organisations also requested a fair investigation of the Kot Radha case involving the burning of a Christian couple on November 4 on the charge of blasphemy. The copy of a two-page letter has also been sent to the United Nations Council on Human Rights.

“A fair investigation of the incident should be conducted and the perpetrators of this gruesome crime be brought to justice by setting a strong precedence for the future,” says the letter.

The Catholic prelates also demanded that the government take measures to stop the misuse of the blasphemy laws by adopting the recommendations of the Gojra Inquiry Commission 2009.

They stated that while the government’s response is appreciated, serious measures need to be taken in order to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future.

They recommended stringent measures to control incidents of mob violence by training and sensitising its police force and hold them accountable in future for any negligence on their part.

Similarly, World Human Rights International Thailand has also sent a letter to the CJ seeking direction on the registration of cases under section 295 PPC against 600 persons who were allegedly responsible of the murder of Christian couple.

The Express Tribune has learnt that both letters have been converted into constitutional petition and the CJP has decided to fix the case before the bench on December 16.  The notices have also been issued to DPO and RPO concerned.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2014.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

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