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Showing posts from April, 2006

Pakistan and Iran agree to build pipeline without India

May 1, 2006
Pakistan and Iran agree to build pipeline without India
By Fida Hussain

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran have agreed to build a bilateral gas pipeline if India does not join the project to bring cheap Iranian gas to South Asia, officials said on Sunday at the conclusion of three days of technical talks.

Petroleum Secretary Ahmad Waqar, who headed the Pakistani side at the talks, told a press conference here that Pakistan and Iran had reached an agreement on basic principles of a gas pricing formula and decided to work on a bilateral Iran-Pakistan pipeline regardless of India’s involvement in the project.

Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, who headed an eight-member Iranian team at the talks, said he did not expect United Nations sanctions due to its nuclear programme to affect the gas pipeline to Pakistan and India or the country’s oil and gas sector.

“Oil prices are very high. Sanctions against Iran extending to its energy sector will push oil prices furthe…

Villagers' fears of nuclear waste: BBC

BBC April 28, 2006
Villagers' fears of nuclear waste
By Nadeem Saeed BBC News, northern Pakistan

Residents of a remote Punjab village in northern Pakistan say their lives are in danger from nuclear waste being dumped in their area.
"We are being slow-poisoned," said Nazir Ahmed Buzdar, a resident of the tribal village of Baghalchur some 400km (248 miles) north of Karachi.

He is part of a group in a legal battle with Pakistan's nuclear authorities over the dumping of toxic waste.

Baghalchur is the site of abandoned uranium mines now being used as a dump.

"Our land played an important role in making Pakistan a nuclear power but all we have got in return is poverty and poison," said Mr Buzdar.

The relevant authorities say nuclear waste material has been stored deep down in underground caves and poses no danger to the environment.

'Child deaths'

But Mr Buzdar and his colleagues cite one of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission's (PAEC) own reports w…

Dr AQ Khan colleague released

Daily Times, April 28 2006
Dr Farooq of KRL released
By Shahzad Raza

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday released Dr Farooq, who had been detained over two years ago on charges of helping Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan transfer nuclear technology to foreign countries.

Dr Farooq’s son Asim confirmed his father had been released, but refused further details. He added that his father was in good health.

A close aide of Dr Khan, Farooq was among 13 Karachi Research Laboratories (KRL) officials detained and questioned about nuclear proliferation. All of them had already been released, except Dr Khan. Sources said Dr Farooq’s house was heavily guarded and no outsider was allowed to meet him. “His telephones are bugged,” they added.

Dr Farooq, the KRL’s former director general procurement, was arrested on November 23, 2003. He had been awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Imtiaz after Pakistan conducted its first successful nuclear test in 1998. The KRL officials suspected for nuclear proliferation were a…

Target: Lashkar-e-Taiba

Daily Times, April 28, 2006
US sanctions two LT proxies
By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: The State Department has included the Jamaatu Daawa (JUD) and Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq (IKK), the renamed aliases of the banned Lashkhar-e-Tayyiba (LT), to the specially designated list of terrorist organisations that pose a threat to the United States.

The Lashkar has been operating with complete freedom in Pakistan under its new names and its volunteers were involved in relief work, described by many as timely and commendable in Azad Kashmir in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake. It has also held rallies in the country and raised funds without much let or hindrance from the authorities, leading to speculation that the group had backing from some section of the establishment. The US action took time because of the legal requirements such a designation needs from a number of agencies and departments.

The US action has been taken under Executive Order 13224 blocks all property, and interests in property, o…

Roving activist writes book on jail inmates

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Daily Times, April 28, 2006
Roving activist writes book on jail inmates
Punjab prisons minister promises improvement on book launch
Staff Report

LAHORE: “I don’t go to church as often as I visit jails,” said Arthur Wilson, on the launching of his book ‘Salakhoon Kay Us Paar’ at the Grand Hotel on Thursday.

Punjab Prisons Minister Saeed Akbar Khan Niwani and Bishop of Lahore Rev Dr Alexander John Malik were honorary guests on the occasion.

Wilson, the executive member of Prison Fellowship of Pakistan, gave a brief account of how he wrote the book when he was visiting Christian prisoners to help them. “A friend of mine told me to not limit my study to jails and look at all the aspects of being a prisoner. I believe that although I may not be able to visit all jails of Pakistan, my book would.”

“Visiting jails is not easy and neither is knowing about prisoners, but one has to play one’s part to help those who are unable to help themselves, as a duty towards one’s country,” he said. “Whether i…

Gary Milhollin's Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

April 28, 2006
US should reward Pakistan, not India: N-expert
By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: A leading nuclear expert told the Senate this week that Pakistan was a closer ally of the United States than India, and yet it was Pakistan which had been discriminated against and even humiliated.

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, said, “Under any calculation of America’s strategic relations, Pakistan ranks higher than India. Pakistan is essential to our ongoing military and political efforts in Afghanistan. Pakistan is also essential to our campaign against Al Qaeda. Without the aid of General Musharraf, we would have a much harder time accomplishing our goals in either of these endeavours. Pakistan is also a leading power in the Muslim world, a world with which the United States needs better relations. Yet, our deal with India is a blow to General Musharraf’s prestige at best, and at worst a p…

"Brain Damage from our American connection"!

Daily Times, April 28, 2006

SECOND OPINION: Brain damage from our American connection — Khaled Ahmed’s Review of the Urdu press

Pakistan has been aligned with the United States right from the start. Also right from the start, it began having pangs of conscience about being America’s ally. This relationship was never properly digested and Pakistanis could only live with it through a kind of split personality. Outsiders may think Pakistan has acted wisely, given its anti-India nationalism, but Pakistanis are too brain-damaged from it to accept that.

Reported in Khabrain (March 5, 2006) former ISI chief Hameed Gul said that President George Bush’s March tour of India had pushed Pakistan into a corner while making India into a regional hegemon. He said Pakistan was put under pressure to vote against Iran at the IAEA and to get rid of its nuclear programme.

In these circumstances Pakistan’s friendship with China had become more crucial and the Mekran Coast had become strategic. He said Manmoh…

An interesting perspective from a Pakistan security analyst

The News, April 27, 2006
US-Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan
Ikram Sehgal

On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off from Etzion airbase near Eilat at 4:00 pm; at 5:35 pm, in an action lasting less than 80 seconds, the nuclear reactor at Osirik being built with French assistance was left in ruins. Osirik would have given Saddam Hussain an Iraqi bomb in less than 10 years. After the Osirik raid, nations, (among them India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, South Africa, etc.) developing nuclear weapons through clandestine means dispersed their nuclear facilities and buried them deep in secret locations, making it all that much harder for an Osirik-type 'solution'.

On the other hand the development of stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, precision-guided bombs, remotely-piloted aerial vehicles, extremely accurate GIS maps, etc. gives a potential attacker numerous options, many of them already field-tested in battle in the last 15 years. During the Iraq war the US used covert means…

Musharraf's intriguing remark about Dr. AQ Khan's planned secret visit to Iran

New York times, April 17, 2006
New Worry Rises on Iranian Claim of Nuclear Steps
William J Broad and David E. Sanger

Of all the claims that Iran made last week about its nuclear program, a one-sentence assertion by its president has provoked such surprise and concern among international nuclear inspectors they are planning to confront Tehran about it this week.

The assertion involves Iran's claim that even while it begins to enrich small amounts of uranium, it is pursuing a far more sophisticated way of making atomic fuel that American officials and inspectors say could speed Iran's path to developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran has consistently maintained that it abandoned work on this advanced technology, called the P-2 centrifuge, three years ago. Western analysts long suspected that Iran had a second, secret program -- based on the black market offerings of the renegade Pakistani nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan -- separate from the activity at its main nuclear facility at Natanz.…

Nuclear risk reduction talks in South Asia

The News, April 26, 2006
Pakistan, India discuss nuclear risk reduction
By Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India held two rounds of talks to discuss an Indian draft proposal on nuclear risk reduction at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Tuesday.

Additional Secretary Tariq Osman Hyder and his Indian counterpart, KC Singh, led their respective delegations at the talks. The delegations comprised experts and officials of the two foreign ministries of Pakistan and India. This is the fourth round of talks on nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two countries.

“Today was the first day of talks on nuclear and conventional CBMs. These talks will continue on Wednesday and we hope to have a joint statement at the end of the day,” an official confided to The News.

When asked whether or not Islamabad expected a breakthrough on the draft proposal and an agreement, the official said, “This evening I cannot speculate a breakthrough. However, if there is good movement in the …

Icons from Pakistan

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Daily Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006
WASHINGTON DIARY: Icons from Pakistan — Dr Manzur Ejaz

An organisation involved in collecting donations for the purpose has revealed that Dr Shazia Khalid has donated all the money to a crisis centre for women she is helping set up in Lyari, Karachi. The bravery, generosity and tenacity of these repressed women are a source of inspiration to many at home and abroad

By the time this column is read, Mukhtar Mai may have completed her US tour to which was hastily added a reception by Pakistan’s embassy in Washington. Dr Shazia Khalid, another rape victim, is also starting her VIP US tour in a few weeks. While these Pakistani victims of rape are becoming icons of women’s liberation in the US, the Pakistani government and US politicians are trying to make the best use of the situation.

As a Pakistani activist said recently it was ironical that the only citizens Pakistan could present to the world were rape victims. While that may not be true, Mukhtar M…

Revolution comes to Nepal: Lessons for South Asia

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The News, April 25, 2006
Revolution comes to South Asia
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

The writer is a political activist associated with the People's Rights Movement. He also teaches colonial history and political economy at LUMS

Over the past few years, radicals and idealists of all stripes have invoked Latin America time and again when responding to the by now familiar 'we are saving the world for democracy' rhetoric of the Bushs and Blairs of the world. The radicals and idealists have asserted – quite rightly – that the arguably revolutionary upheavals taking place across the Latin American continent suggest that class struggle is alive and well, in spite of the best efforts to make it disappear with the magic wand of hype and propaganda in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's disintegration.

But it has been difficult to ignore the fact that the re-emergence of a working class politics has been largely confined to Latin America. While many have hoped for the emergence of anti-sys…

State of Healthcare in Pakistan

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Daily Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006
VIEW: Why Pakistanis are dying earlier — Syed Mohammad Ali

For the PMDC to become more effective, its scope must be broadened beyond mere registration of doctors and recognition of medical colleges. To this end, it may be necessary for the PMDC to become more representative of the healthcare sector rather than being dominated by government officials

Life expectancy in Pakistan, never impressive, has declined even further. Until recently, an average Pakistani had an estimated lifespan of 63 years. This has now come down to merely 60.

This is not the only bad news concerning the health situation in the country according to the Pakistan Medical Association Annual Report for 2005. Infant and maternal mortality rates also remain unacceptably high. Besides the 80 newborn babies out of every 1,000 who die within the year, 103 children under the age of five are dying annually out of every 1,000. Around 500 out of 100,000 women die during pregnancy due to l…

South Asia Needs a Bomb-less Deal: An argument that must be taken seriously

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Chowk.com, April 20, 2006
South Asia Needs a Bomb-less Deal
Pervez Hoodbhoy

For all who have opposed Pakistan’s nuclear program over the years – including myself – the US-India nuclear agreement may probably be the worst thing that has happened in a long time.

Post agreement: Pakistan’s ruling elite is confused and bitter. They know that India has overtaken Pakistan in far too many areas for there to be any reasonable basis for symmetry. They see the US is now interested in reconstructing the geopolitics of South Asia and in repairing relations with India, not in mollifying Pakistani grievances. Nevertheless, there were lingering hopes of a sweetener during President George W. Bush’s furtive and unwelcome visit in March 2006 to Islamabad. There was none.

This change in US policy thrilled many in India. Many enjoyed President Musharraf’s discomfiture. But they would do well to restrain their exuberance. The nuclear deal, even if ratified, will not dramatically increase nuclear power pro…

Pakistan Navy - new role

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Online News; April 23, 2006
Pakistan navy to take control of RMSF today
Karachi: The official handover of command of Regional Maritime Security Force (RMSF) to the Pakistan Navy will take place today (Monday) in Bahrain.

United States Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan C. Crocker congratulated the Pakistan Navy on its impending takeover of Coalition Task Force 150 ("CTF-150") at a reception at the American Consul General’s residence in Karachi.

The official handover of command to the Pakistan Navy will take place on Monday, April 24, in Bahrain.

Coalition Task Force 150 is a maritime security force responsible for operations in the Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the North Arabian Sea.

This will be the first time for the Pakistan Navy at the helm of this important task force, which is made up primarily of ships from NATO countries. The only two non-NATO ally members are Pakistan and New Zealand.

"In taking command of CTF-150, Pakistan is again showing its strong com…

Who had appointed him?

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Reference the news item below, many a retired and even serving army officials have been appointed in Pakistan on civilian posts in the last 5 years - most on the direct instructions of President Pervez Musharraf. It is indeed a welcome development that an army officer is being taken to task for corruption but it should also be probed who recommended him for this job in the military hierarchy. Only the well connected could get such favors.

Daily Times, April 23, 2006
PM sacks Postal DG for corruption

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Saturday sacked Post Office Director General (DG) Brigadier (r) Agha Masoodul Hassan on corruption charges and appointed additional DG Ziaur Rehman Zamir in his place.

Sources in the Communication Ministry said an investigation committee headed by Shahid Jamil, the state minister for communications, had found Hassan guilty on eight charges of corruption. The allegations include establishment of an illegal telephone exchange in the Post Office colleg…

Demystifying Jihad

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The News, April 13, 2006
Demystifying jihad
By M.B. Naqvi
Book Review of : Jihad, Hindutva and the Taliban: South Asia at the Crossroads
By: Iftikhar H. Malik Published by: Oxford University Press

Distinguished academician Iftikhar H. Malik has portrayed the politics of South Asia early in the new century. He finds three main forces at work: jihad, Hindutva and the Taliban. The book is really addressed to Western scholars and media. He wants to convince the informed and academic Western opinion about where South Asia is going and that it is not engaged in an unending jihad against the West, or Christianity.

Basically, the topicality of jihad and Taliban in the West is what informs the book. What the author does is to juxtapose it with India's Hindutva and other ethno-nationalisms of the region to show the universality of fascistic ideas in the region that is causing so much trouble in the Middle East, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. And the author's main inte…

Traded like animals....

Traded like animals - the blood feuds settled with 'gift' of a wife
Outlawed custom that parcels out young women in marriage survives in rural Pakistan

Declan Walsh in Malmundi
Friday April 21, 2006: The Guardian

Eyes glimmering with worry, Tasleem Bibi peered through the slits of her pitch-black veil. Seventeen years ago her father had struck a devilish deal to stay out of jail. Now his daughter was paying its price. A rival family was demanding that Tasleem marry one of their sons. Her hand in marriage had been promised back in 1989, they insisted, as part of an agreement to end a blood feud between the two clans.

But then Tasleem was five years old. Now, at 22, she was refusing to go through with the wedding. The other family, angered and armed with rifles, had been threatening to kill her. "This is so cruel," she whispered, her hands quivering as she stared out at the farmhouse door. "I committed no crime, so why am I the one being punished?"

She is a vict…

"Liberating the Muslim mind": A tilted perspective but worth a read

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The News, April 21, 2006
Liberating the Muslim mind
Quantum Note
By Dr Muzaffar Iqbal

"Without flattering the English, I can truly say that the natives of India, high and low, merchants and petty shopkeepers, educated and illiterate, when contrasted with the English in education, manners, and uprightness, are like a dirty animal is to an able and handsome man." If one were to ask an educated Muslim today about the man who wrote these words, she or he would mostly think of an outlandish English bigot. Those with a little more interest in history would probably think of men like Mustafa Kamal of Turkey (incorrectly called Ata Turk, the father of Turks) or one of his latter-day fans.

The guesswork can be cut short, however, by a further clue. The author of these words also wrote a tafsir, because in all previous tafsirs of the Noble Quran he "could find nothing but grammatical and lexicographical niceties, statements concerning the place and time of revelation and commentaries…