LHR 21-12-2011_Layout 1 12/21/2011 2:01 AM Page 10
wednesday, 21 december, 2011
Afghanistan appeals for help in Taliban talks UNITED NATIONS AFP
KARACHI: Punjabi Pakhtoon Ittehad leader Irfanullah Marwat announcing to join the PML-N along with his supporters in the presence of former prime minister and PML-N President Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday. INP
NATo attack violated UN Charter, Pakistan tells Security Council NEW YORK: Pakistan told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that last month’s NATO cross-border airstrikes that killed over two dozen Pakistani soldiers was a “transgression of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and a flagrant violation of the UN Charter.” “The attack on Pakistan border post on 26 November 2011, which killed 25 soldiers, was a grave incident,” Raza Bashir Tarar, acting Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, told the 15-nation council on Monday. He said Pakistan had abstained from the Bonn Conference as protest against the attack. Raza was speaking in the Security Council’s debate on the report of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Monday. Tarar cited the UN Secretary General’s report, which termed Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan “paramount in furthering peace, reconciliation and stability”. He emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to peace, reconciliation and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan, he said, greatly values UNAMA’s role in coordinating a comprehensive international effort in Afghanistan. Pakistan hoped that the review of UNAMA’s mandate would enable the UN to make more meaningful contributions to peace and development of Afghanistan, he said. Rejecting speculative statements, he said that such blame game should stop since it erodes mutual trust. ONLINE
US drone strikes in Pakistan on longest pause WASHINGTON
H E covert US drone programme that hunts al Qaeda and allied terrorists operating in Tribal Areas has entered its longest pause since the strikes were ramped up in summer of 2008. The US has not launched a predator or reaper airstrike against terrorist targets in Pakistan for 33 days, according to statistics. The last strike took place on November 16 in the Ramzak area of North Waziristan. US officials have previously said that the programme is “on hold” due to deteriorating relations between the US and Pakistan from fallout of a cross-border incident by NATO forces in the tribal agency of Mohmand that resulted in deaths of 24 soldiers. One US official told The Long War Journal there is a concern that another US strike on Pakistani soil will “push US-Pakistan relations past the point of no return.” Another official said, however, that the US would attack if “an extremely high value target pops up. The 33-daylong gap in strikes is the longest since another pause that took place in the spring of 2009 (28 days, May 16 to June 14). US officials attributed
The Afghan government on Monday appealed for international help to boost talks with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups. At a UN Security Council debate on the war-torn country, Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister Jawed Ludin stressed the government’s determination to pursue reconciliation efforts despite Taliban attacks and assassinations. “We believe the process may benefit from the establishment of an office, within or outside Afghanistan, whereby formal talks between relevant Afghan authorities and representatives of armed opposition, including the Taliban, could be facilitated,” Ludin told the council. Afghan authorities recently put forward Saudi Arabia or Turkey as the best places to set up a Taliban liaison office abroad to enable peace talks to end the devastating 10-year insurgency. The minister stressed the cooperation needed from Pakistan and other neighboring countries to overcome armed opposition groups. UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said meanwhile that the UN mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, will remain in the country long after the international military withdrawal scheduled for 2014. Ladsous said there had been a “relative” decline in security incidents in recent months though over the year so far there has been a 21 percent increase in incidents compared to 2010. The number of attacks in September, October and November is down on last year, Ladsous said, without giving detailed figures. It was hailed as “good news” but Ladsous added: “We mustn’t deceive ourselves. We have witnessed large-scale attacks over the recent weeks.” He said there had been nearly 800 civilians deaths in Afghanistan over the past three months.
Swat journalist bodies elect new office-bearers SWAT STAFF REPORT
that gap to operational issues with the unmanned aircraft. The third-and fourth-longest pauses also took place earlier this year, during a time of high tensions with Pakistan. A 27-day-long gap in strikes from January 23 to February 20 occurred after CIA contractor Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis in Lahore. The US ended the pause in strikes the day Davis was returned to the US. And a 25-day-long gap from March 17 to April 13 took place after the US killed dozens of Pakistanis in a strike in North Waziristan. That strike killed a senior Taliban leader and 11 fighters along with an estimated 30 tribesmen who were said to be negotiating mineral rights
in the area. US officials had previously denied that the two pauses earlier this year were due to tensions with Pakistan and instead cited operational issues with the unmanned aircraft, to include “weather.” There have been significant pauses during that seasonal time period in previous years. But one US official told the Journal that the two long pauses earlier this year were indeed related to political problems with Pakistan encountered during those time frames. “If it isn’t clear by now, the airstrikes targeting AQAM (al Qaeda and allied movements) have been constrained by deteriorating relations with Pakistan,” a senior US official said.
The annual elections of Swat Press Club and the Swat Union of Journalists were held on Monday, and Fayaz Zafar and Salahuddin were elected unopposed as the chairman and president of the two bodies respectively. The ballot took place under the patronage of provincial legislator Sher Muhammad Khan. As nobody filed nomination papers against the two candidates, they were elected unopposed. Newly elected members for Swat Press Club include Fayaz Zafar as chairman, Ghafoor Khan Adil as vice chairman, and Mehboob Ali as general secretary. The elected members for the Swat Union of Journalists are: Salahuddin as president, Shehzad Alam as senior vice president, Qasim Yousafzai as vice president and Shirin Zada as general secretary.
Polio another threat to Pakistan’s neighbours besides terrorism ISLAMABAD ARIF TAJ
Not only terror, polio has also become a potential and constant threat to counties neighbouring Pakistan. Rise in the number of cases of the deadly virus in the country is feared spreading to India and China sooner or later if immediate steps are not taken with unprecedented sense of urgency. Many international organisations, particularly the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Interna-
tional Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have been highlighting the issue, but India and China too have felt alarmed recently, taking it as a potential threat which Pakistan offers to them apart from the menace of terrorism. According to the WHO, Pakistan has become a “hotbed” of the deadly strain of polio which threatens to spread globally if not checked. The UNICEF too said recently that Pakistan could potentially be the last polio reservoir worldwide standing in the way of global polio eradication, unless progress was accelerated. According to the WHO, Pakistan is affected by nationwide transmission of WPV1, and is the location of the only wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) case in Asia in
2011. Polio cases in Pakistan have continued to increase since the beginning of the current year and total polio cases in the country were 36 in 2010, which now stand at 63. In Balochistan alone, around 22 new polio cases have been reported. According to reports, polio virus has infected many areas of the country which were immune in the past. The WHO said that the deadly strain of polio has spread to China from Pakistan and travellers to and from Pakistan should be fully protected by vaccination. The WHO also warned countries ahead of the Haj season. “Wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) genetically linked to virus currently circulating in Pakistan has been isolated in China,” the
WHO said. Chinese news agency Xinhua also reported in August that four infants in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region had been diagnosed with polio which had a 99 percent resemblance with the wild poliovirus found in Pakistan. India too perceives the threat and fears that importations of the virus from Pakistan could in crease polio cases there. India is among the four countries, apart from Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, where polio still thrives. The Hindustan Times warned of the same on November 26, saying, “These unwanted importations have become India’s biggest worry this year, with its two large neighbours, China and Pakistan, reporting an increase in polio cases this year. After
remaining polio-free in 2010, China has had 18 cases, the last one on September 11 this year. The real worry is Pakistan, with rapid increase in cases, where the virus has spread from its three strongholds in Karachi, Quetta and the northwest tribal areas.” Though Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani launched the anti-polio campaign and made a commitment to eradicate polio from the country, the programme needs constant monitoring and result-oriented strategy to combat the disease. Pakistan has to address the problem with unprecedented sense of urgency in close collaboration with international humanitarian organisations to secure the country and the region from the crippling disease.