Canadian Pakistani Times
Car bomb in Jamrud kills 21, injures 80 KARACHI: At least 11 people were killed and several others injured on Tuesday, including a key leader of the religious Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) party in separate incidents of violence in Pakistan’s commercial capital of Karachi, DawnNews reported. Maulana Orangzaib Farooqi, a key ASWJ leader, was injured when gunmen opened indiscriminate fire on car near Gulshan-i-Iqbal’s Moti Mahal area, killing his guard, driver, and four
policemen. Farooqi sustained bullet injuries, however, his condition was said to be stable. Following the incident, businesses were closed down as panic gripped several city areas, including Nagan Chowrangi, Abul Hasan Isphahani Road, Stadium Road, Guru Mandir and Patel Para, where miscreants resorted to arson. Unknown men also torched two cars near Rizvia Colony and Waterpump areas. Meanwhile, three people were killed by unknown gunmen in Orangi Town, while another was man was killed by gunshots in Shah Faisal Colony’s Azeempura area. A man was also injured in the firing incident in Azeempura. Another man also fell victim to firing when he sustained gunshot wounds in Landhi’s Sharafi Goth area. Earlier on Tuesday, a police officer’s son was gunned down in Clifton’s Darakhshan area. According to police sources, the incident was a result of personal enmity.
Seven dead, thousands homeless in Manila fires MANILA: At least seven people were killed and thousands left homeless as two fires struck the Philippine capital on Christmas Day, sparking riots as a slum went up in flames, Manila’s fire marshal said Tuesday. Six bodies were recovered and two other people were missing as a blaze erupted at dawn in a row of old apartments in the Baler section of northern Manila, said Chief Superintendent Santiago Laguna. Suspected arsonists meanwhile set off a second blaze at a sprawling shantytown across the city, sparking rioting that left one man dead and two others arrested, he said in an interview that aired over DZBB radio. “They (residents) started grabbing hoses from our firefighters, who could not do anything as they feared for their own safety,” Laguna said. A man was beaten up and later died from his injuries in the melee as the blaze consumed the shantytown in the San Juan district, he added.
December 27, 2012
Volume 1, 040
Ahmad Mehmood sworn in as Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood on Tuesday took oath as Punjab Governor in a ceremony held at the Governor’s House. Chief Justice Lahore High Court (LHC) Umar Atta Bandiyal administered the oath to Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood in a simple but dignified ceremony. Makhdoom Ahmad resigned as the PMLFunctional Punjab president after he was offered the coveted post by President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday. He is from the southern Punjab district of Rahimyar Khan and was elected to the Punjab Assembly in previous general elections. The oath-taking ceremony was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Punjab leader Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmed, federal and provincial ministers, Tanveer Ashraf Kaira, Abdul Qadir Gilani, JI’s Dr Waseem Akhtar, PML-Likeminded leader Humayun Akhtar, parliamentarians and a large number lawyers. Ahmad Mahmood replaced Sardar Latif Khosa who had been appointed Punjab governor on
Jan 13, 2011. After his swearing in as the provincial governor, Ahmad Mahmood said his appointment would lead to improvement in the Punjab’s situation. He added that his first priority would be to work for the betterment and welfare of the people. He said in view of the economic situation in Punjab,
Hoti calls for immediate steps to rein in militants PESHAWAR, Dec 24: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti called upon the political leadership and the military on Monday to immediately put their heads together to find a permanent solution to the problem of militancy. “Time has come that the military and political leadership take a quick decision and guide the nation. Otherwise, it will be criminal negligence,” he told lawmakers in the provincial assembly amid a sombre mood over the assassination of Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour in a suicide attack on Saturday. When the assembly’s proceedings began, Chief Minister Hoti, along with ministers and legislators, placed a wreath of red and white roses in the chair of the slain ANP leader. Mr Bilour’s portrait, red cap and shawl were put on his seat and lawmakers lit candles on his desk as a mark of respect and to pay tribute to their colleague. Women members wore black shawls and men black armbands. Bashir Bilour, who had been elected five times as an MPA, was the third lawmaker of the sitting assembly to have fallen to terrorism. Earlier, Awami National Party’s MPAs Alamzaib Khan and Shamsher Khan, from Peshawar and Swat, had died in bomb attacks. Sikandar Khan Sherpao, an MPA, and Jails Minister Mian Nisar Gul survived bomb and suicide attacks. The chief minister said a delay in taking a decision would amount to a “betrayal of the martyrs”. “The enemy will be weakened if we take a bold decision. Otherwise, our enemy will gain more strength and power,” he said. He also said that some people had a misconception that the situation would improve once Nato forces pulled out of Afghanistan.
“The people who have started terrorism and killing innocent people have already vowed to take over Pakistan after coming to power in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the nation had two choices: to fight them or leave the ground open for them. He said that if militants continued killing leaders and candidates of political parties one by
one, the general election would become doubtful. The Qaumi Watan Party’s parliamentary leader, Sikandar Sherpao, said those sitting in Islamabad did not realise the problems of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. “People in Islamabad are just watching a game and enjoying, but they should understand that this fire can also engulf other areas of the country,” he warned. Provincial Environment Minister Wajid Ali Khan said Pakhtuns had been used as fuel in an unending, bloody war while others were getting political and economic benefits from the ongoing conflict. He regretted that some leaders were still trying to justify the activities of militants. Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said it was surprising that the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan were separately holding talks with the Taliban, warning that this strategy wouldn’t succeed. Instead of holding talks separately, all stakeholders should sit together and hold a meaningful dialogue with the Taliban, he said. Mian Iftikhar also criticised the ‘good and bad Taliban’ mantra and said indiscriminate action should be taken against all terrorists.
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he would not draw salary from the exchequer. Ahmad Mahmood said his appointment as governor was “not the result of backdoor diplomacy” and any understanding. He praised the political acumen of late PPP leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The governor said he would try his best to meet great expectations of the president, adding that he would stand by the Punjab government for good governance. He also said that Dr Tahirul Qadri should not put his followers on trial with tough agenda. The newly elected governor warmly welcomed Shahbaz Sharif and discussed current national and regional issues.
Two militants, one policeman killed in Kashmir fighting
SRINAGAR: Police in Indian-administered Kashmir said two suspected militants and a police officer were killed in a gunbattle in the disputed Himalayan region. Police officer Manoj Panditha said in addition to the dead, one Indian army soldier was wounded in the fighting late Monday in the southern Kashmir village of Dodhiporao. Panditha said Tuesday that police believe men belonged to the Lashkar-i-Taiba militant group. There has been no independent confirmation of the incident. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety. About 68,000 people have been killed since 1989 in an armed rebellion against Indian rule and in an ensuing Indian crackdown that has largely crushed the militants. India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the militants, a charge Islamabad denies.
December 27, 2012
What to avoid after a full meal You have eaten really well. The cook hired for the wedding reception is well-known — for his pathir peni, fresh jelebi, mixed rice varieties, sweet pachadis and vadai. And the hand-cranked icecream, how can you resist it? Burp… Soak in the glow of satisfaction. This is how that XL-sized rock python on Animal Planet feels with an unsuspecting deer inside him. What next? A round of card games? Some coffee, tea? Test drive friend's swanky BMW? Crash to sleep the meal off? Or go adventurous, boot up the music, shake a leg! Take care, warns nutritionist Vijaya Parameswaran. “After a full meal, your body will channel maximum blood circulation to your gastro-intestinal tract, to facilitate digestion. Vigorous/Intense exercising at this time may cause your cardiovascular system (heart) to be starved of optimum blood circulation.” Translated, it means “Psy fans, curb your enthusiasm for Gangnam Style after a full meal. Not good for the heart.” And don't slide into a nap after a heavy meal, Vijaya says. “Blood sugar surges after a meal and the focus for the next few hours is to normalise it. A nap after meals increases insulin dependence to normalise blood sugar, and may precipitate insulin resistance.” High BS also means a big no to desserts and high-sugar beverages post a full meal, since these make it harder to normalise blood sugars. People who have suffered the post-meal syndrome add to the list of don'ts. Don't drink cold water after diving into a wedding spread, they say. It freezes food fat which then builds up in the intestine, narrows the digestive ducts and leads to
obesity. Eating fruits after rich food is a bad idea too. A second helping of fruit salad? Brace yourself for a bout of abdominal bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or excess stomach acid. Tea is on the “neverafter-a-heavy-meal” list. Its tannic acid forms a sediment by combining with proteins, and affects absorption of both protein and iron. Smoking after a meal makes it ten times more dangerous. If you chose to wear a belt to that reception, make sure you don't slacken it now. Comfortable, yes, but it
can lead to decreased pressure in the abdominal cavity, and weakened digestion. Elders in the family have warned us against bathing after a meal — full or less. You'll get dyspepsia, they said. And there's a surprising new rule: wait for 30 minutes before cleaning your teeth after a meal. Fruits, (particularly orange or lemon juice), vinegar, sport drinks and soft drinks have a very high level of acidity and can soften the enamel of your teeth. Brushing your teeth can dam-
age the softened enamel. Wait till saliva neutralises the acidity. How much of the amateur advice is trustworthy? In his News Today column, cardiologist and lifestyle advisor Dr. Philip Chua clears the myths about post-meal activity. Smoking is bad, he agrees, since the absorption rate following a meal is heightened, magnifying the ill effects of tobacco (nicotine) on our system. Avoid fruits only if you have intolerance, or you're on a diabetic diet. Eat fruits, they improve digestion. Question is, can you? Tea is high in tannic acid, but it acts like a tonic — invigorates the brain, speeds up circulation, makes digestion easier. Go for a light, sugarfree cup. And yes, do not loosen the belt. A tight belt makes you conscious you are full and helps you fight the temptation to overeat. Don't believe in the mumbo jumbo about twisted intestines. Tradition that doesn't allow us to bathe after a meal has some truth in it, he says. Taking a bath (especially a warm one) does divert blood from the stomach to the skin, but doesn't impair digestion significantly. The general rule is: after a meal, don't indulge in strenuous activities that will move energy away from the stomach, which needs “enough” blood for digestion. And don't sleep immediately after a meal. In some people, it causes irregular heartbeat. Habitually sleeping immediately after a meal supports the tendency to gain weight. “Don't eat again for four hours or longer, it makes the stomach grow larger” is sage advice. Eating heavily and frequently distends the stomach and conditions the brain to crave for more food. This is the inevitable path to obesity and its dangerous consequences.
Medicine for the mind Nearly 30 women gathered for a gala time last week. Madurai was the tenth stop for music therapist Ayala Gerber Snapir and her team from Israel. “We travel all over the world to interact with women and help them improve themselves through music and dance therapy,” says Ayala. Though the team has often visited India, this was their first trip to the south. “This is a technique of working on the mind, body and soul,” says Ayala. “Music is a substitute for words. It transcends language and understanding. Thus, interaction through music becomes
easy. Different music brings out different emotions. Sounds have a therapeutic and purifying effect on the soul like the Hindu mantras.” Ayala says that music therapy is an experiential and entertaining method and doesn’t involve clinical procedures, though it is considered a form of medicine. “Depending on the mental state of the patient, the therapy may vary from just a short intervention involving a dramatic situation to a number of sittings extending over months.” However, Ayala believes in using the technique in a more casual format suited for relaxation and interaction. Eight years back, armed with a master’s degree in music therapy from Bar-Ilan University, Ayala and her friend Ricky thought of making music therapy more accessible and relevant to women and formed the group Masanashi (the word means ‘flying women’ in Hebrew). The group today has 20 core members from various professions and backgrounds who travel across the globe to interact with women. Masanashi has worked with tsunami victims in India, Japan and Indonesia. Ayala says that music has never failed to touch the emotive quotient in humans. “People have cried and laughed during my sessions. It’s a let-out to express suppressed feelings.” Ricky says, “Even in modern countries like Israel, women are beaten up
and are given less salaries. Women don’t have many opportunities towards themselves. Music is a wonderful way to address women’s issues.” She adds, “In India, women are more tender and fragile than women in the west. Music can make people strong. Through the therapy, character and nature of a person can be made more flexible so that they become equipped to face difficult situations.” Nily, a radio broadcaster from Israel, says, “Our group encourages women to share their inner feelings, desires and anguish. Not many societies have avenues for women to air feelings. Dance and music are art forms that can heal.” She adds, “I have been doing music therapy with women in North India, where domestic violence and mental illness among women are very high. Music also makes us forget religions. We learn ceremonies, mythology and traditions of different countries through such sessions.” Hamutan, a dance therapist, says that dance also helps in curing ailments related to the mind and nerves. “Dance is an expression of the mind,” she says. “If a person is angry, he might dance fiercely and might like loud and rocky music. If someone is in a peaceful state of mind, he/she may respond to slow music.” Ayala charges 50 dollars for an individual session of music therapy in Israel, but she says group sessions in India are free and by invitation. In the session that took place at Urbanspice in town, five instrumentals were played in sequence and the participants were instructed to listen to all of them with closed eyes and open minds. Each participant was asked to pick any one song that they liked the most. Alaya says, “Then we club the members into groups and ask them to either draw or write down the emotions they came across while listening to the particular song. The sheets are put together and a single word or feeling is taken and elaborated on. They also have discussions among the group on that particular feeling. This way, everyone gets a chance to pour out their thoughts to the other. Closing your eyes increases concentration as you shut yourself to the outer world. It helps in connecting with oneself and that’s why we close eyes while praying.” Sujatha, a participant, found the session highly refreshing and rejuvenating. Amreen, another participant, felt that more such sessions should be held for women’s groups. The event was jointly organized by Urbanspice and Soroptimist International, Madurai Chapter.
December 27, 2012
Let’s give cross-border friendship a real chance It took Pakistan and India four very long years to reconcile their differences and open the borders to facilitate business, sports and diplomatic ties. Being a complete supporter of Indo-Pak friendship, the efforts put in by both countries is both joyous and commendable. However, the fragility of our relationship makes me think if we can really put our past behind us and embark on a journey which will be mutually beneficial for both the nations. It is quite ironic but all it takes us is a second to launch senseless accusations on each other without paying any heed to the fact that most of the people residing on both sides of the border demand and are in favour of congenial relations between both the countries. A few days ago one of Pakistan’s most famous politicians visited India to propagate the message of peace and solidarity. However, some of his statements regarding Mumbai attacks and India’s alleged involvement causing instability in the province of Balochistan did not sit well with many political leaders of India. His statements instigated a series of verbal attacks from both sides jeopardising the much awaited cricket series and the overall peace process. The statements he made are quite debatable; however, what motivated him to make such claims on a peace drive is absolutely unfathomable. I personally do not agree with the words of the aforementioned state figure and believe that he should have refrained from making statements on such a sensitive issue because of their negative effects. On a completely different front, a week and a half ago, Zeeshan Abbasi, Captain of Pakistan’s blind cricket squad accidentally drank ‘phenyl’ whilst staying at a hotel in Bangalore giving skeptics another very important cue to hatch conspiracy theories. Although Abbasi drank phenyl, which is a common cleaning agent used in the subcontinent, various Pakistani news channels
reported that he was ‘made to drink acid’ adding more fuel to the already lit and growing fire. The comments made by citizens of both the countries perplexed and saddened me immensely and prompted me to hit the roads and ask people about their true opinion and feelings over both the aforementioned solitary incidents — incidents that instigated people to launch a series of verbal attacks blaming each other for malicious acts. The frantic feedback I got from people ranged from “I am sure he was poisoned out of sheer jealousy because we were winning” to “we want Pakistani authorities to handover all the alleged attackers to India as without that I don’t see any peace process happening”. Whereas other people went on to say that “I do not care who said what and what exactly took place in Bangalore but I am sure that India and Pakistan can never be friends” and “we will forget the past and be friends with Pakistan and then militant factions in Pakistan will launch another attack on Indian soil killing innocent Indian without any reason.” The other half of Indians and Pakistanis that I called and met were so enraged that they refused to give me any statement at all. However, a non-resident Indian from Detroit, Michigan agreed to sit down with me for a small interview on condition of anonymity and provided me with at least some rationale behind the anger.
“For us the most important issue is to see the perpetrators and militants behind Mumbai attacks behind the bars. We want them to be tried and punished according to the law of the state. Whether that happens in Pakistan or India we do not care. We only want to see that the justice is served. Honestly speaking when I read about how militants who took Mumbai under siege for days roaming freely around in Pakistan, I feel angry and disgusted. On the top of that when Pakistani politicians visit India and make ludicrous statements about lack of evidence for not trying the man and releasing him, I want to question them that if Ajmal Kasab is not a sufficient enough evidence then what qualifies as evidence according to the Pakistani authorities?” He went on to say that the “sheer act of negligence which resulted in the consumption of phenyl by Abbasi has been turned into several conspiracy theories. Many Pakistanis think that it was a deliberate act of hatred and are demanding justice through thorough investigation of the matter. However, these same people fail to realise that scores of Indians and citizens of many other countries lost their lives during Mumbai attacks of 2008 and there is significant evidence against the perpetrators who are still at large. Our demands are also the same. We want justice and thorough investigation of the case which will bring some consolation
to the survivors and people who were affected by the tragic incident.” The fierce reaction I received made me think that perhaps this is not the best time to ask people of their opinion as once again the emotions are at an all-time high which is why the responses are pretty much extremely naïve and unreasonable. However, it is most important to understand that words spoken by a dignitary or words written by a handful of Indians and Pakistanis on a comment box of a news website do not represent the true emotions of the majority. Many of us fail to realise that it takes years and years of effort to convince people residing on both sides of the border to even initiate a peace dialogue process and all it takes is an absurd statement or unfortunate incident to take us back to square one. The fierce reaction also makes me wonder if we have ever given peace and friendship a real chance or is it just that most of us are hypocrites. I know that it is absolutely unfair to compare an act of negligence with and act involving terror attacks, however, it is most important to understand that majority of Pakistanis have nothing to do with terrorism. Many of them have the same sentiments about Mumbai attacks and the masterminds behind them as Indians because loss of innocent lives can never be justified. Many sane Pakistanis also firmly believe that Abbasi was certainly not poisoned and the act was nothing but sheer negligence on the part of hotel personnel. The optimist inside me makes me want to believe that most of us as humans are in favour of peace and long-lasting friendship — which is not easily affected by incidents which are beyond the controls of an average Pakistani or an Indian. Many of us will continue to strive hard and will go several extra miles to bring about a positive change in the cross-border relations because it is high time for us to give peace and love a real chance.
Eimen and Chandrwati The 16th day of April 1853 is special in the Indian history. The day was a public holiday. At 3:30 pm, as the 21 guns roared together, the first train carrying Lady Falkland, wife of Governor of Bombay, along with 400 special invitees, steamed off from Bombay to Thane. Ever since the engine rolled off the tracks, there have been new dimensions to the distances, relations and emotions. Abaseen Express, Khyber Mail and Calcutta Mail were not just the names of the trains but the experiences of hearts and souls. Now that we live in the days of burnt and non functional trains, I still have few pleasant memories associated with train travels. These memoirs are the dialogues I had with myself while sitting by the windows or standing at the door as the train moved on. In the era of Cloud and Wi-fi communications, I hope you will like them. While this place was inhabited three centuries ago, it has been a little over a century since the train arrived here. The old name of this place was Saidpur. The change of its name tells the story of a king’s magnanimity and an inn-keeper’s innocence. Shahjehan, as legend goes, was very fond of Saidpur and on every trip to Kashmir, he would stop here at this particular inn, kept by a lady named “Eimen.” During one of his stays, he was particularly gracious and granted her a wish. Eimen replied that she did not need estates but eternity, so the place may be named after her. The king himself was a sanctioning authority and required no ratification so with a flick of his tongue, Saidpur was renamed Aimenabad. The origins of this city are linked with Babar’s arrival by several old historians. Baba Nanak saw this march from a roori (bed of pebbles) and has portrayed this invasion as an act of barbarianism. The roori was made into a gurudwara (Sikh temple) later on. After the city fell, Baba Nanak was taken to prison and ordered to grind the flour on a hand-mill. As he touched the mill, it started rotating automatically. Since those were the times when miracles did happen, the king was informed. Upon seeing the mill, Babar apologised to the saint and thereafter, a dialogue life and hereafter ensued between the two. This dialogue was written as a poem by Munshi Tilok Chand Mehroom and was published by Fort William College, Calcutta. The
chakki (mill) was developed subsequently as Guruduwara Chakki Saheb. A well, which was owned by a carpenter named Laloo, is another religious monument present here. A committed follower of Nanak, Laloo was amongst the first few Sikhs. The well has been preserved and made into a gurudwara known as Gurudwara Laloo Dee Khoee. There is a place in a nearby reservation forest, where Ali Hajveri meditated for 40 days and two brothers watched him silently. One converted to Islam and the other did not. The one who converted, made Gujranwala his home and his children still dwell in the city while the other, who stuck to his old religion, is believed to head the family tree of famous Prithvi Raj Kapoor. Away from the mosque, gurudwara and temple, there are other colours in this portrait. Amongst the old buildings is one Kali Kothi, constructed by Kartar Singh Manchanda. The building carries its name from the fading shadow it wears. The traveller, however, is looking for something else. While wandering in the streets of Eimenabad, I heard a whisper: Gujranwala pehlwana daa, Eimanabad deevana daa (Gujranwala belongs to the wrestlers and Eimenabad to the Deevan family). From the dust of obscurity, I picked up the shining stars and started looking for the Deevans, the men with genius of bureaucracy. The story starts when everyone in Kashmir had some estate in Punjab to visit and stay at occasionally. Deewan Amarnath Chopra was one such minister for Kashmir. The old letterheads mention his office near Forman Chapel and residence near Gumti, in Lahore. In Eimenabad, he built three havelis which were referred to as Haveli Deevana’n. While the other two buildings have collapsed, only one haveli has survived it all. At the time of construction, it had seven floors, 64 rooms and innumerable memories. The buildings were built to perfection and matched the acumen of its residents. Constructed inside the city, they displayed artistic carving and exquisite woodwork. The spiralling staircases, jharokas, and decorative windows speak of the finesse that the Deevans inherited. And then India was partitioned. Amarnath had died and Bishan Nath now headed the family. Within a night, the family rolled up their luggage and left for India through train via Lahore. On their
way to railway station, Bishen Nath’s wife stopped for a while and told his son and a daughter, aged nine and ten respectively, to go home and bring the jewellery. “And if you fail to find the home, just go to mosque and ask somebody there,” she threw them the caution. The kids never returned. Bishen Nath’s family left for India and Shafqat Ali Shah, a farmer and imam at a mosque emigrated from Karnal. On arrival to Eimenabad, the family stayed the abandoned Haveli and started making attempts to legalise the property. The allotment had to come through claims and that meant palm greasing. Getting the claim verified took almost eight years. The haveli was formally purchased by Shafqat Ali Shah and his brothers in 1955. By then, the cracks appeared in the walls but the hearts remained intact. Iqrar Hussain Shah, the present owner of haveli remembers only five stories. The first two floors were lost to earthquakes and rains. As the family grew, the space shrunk and the brothers decided to partition it. They counted the rooms and divided the area. The brother who acquired the eastern side of Haveli, razed it to the ground, stuffed the rubble in the well and sold the wood. Blue and yellow concrete cellars called houses have mushroomed in this half of Haveli. The second brother who acquired, the other half has preferred to stick to the ruins, which remain.
Some eight years ago, the grandson of Bishen Das, Mahirr, reached the haveli, looking for his roots. He had camera in one hand and cell phone in the other. From other side of the border, Jogindernath, his father, guided Mahirr towards every corner of the house. Joginder told him the exact number of steps and the directions and Mahirr captured the moment with his camera. As he reached stairs, the voice trembled. “Can you see the small space created by the winding of stairs? I used to hide here.” Mahirr bent down and looked under the stairs. In an empty shoe box, a pair of chicks sat snuggled against each other. The riddle of memories is the strangest one and not everyone possesses the wisdom to resolve it. Even after trying hard, men cannot see what they don’t want to and this is where the difference starts. A tree in the backyard reminds one brother of his love lost and the other of an impending reunion. Many rooms in the house were yet to be opened. In the inner folds of the house was the safe room. The jewellery was hidden inside the earthen pots which in turn were placed inside the walls. They could only be seen after displacing a brick or two. The room was guarded by a snake that was fed milk daily and if any stranger entered the room, he was stung to death.
December 27, 2012
Iran foils new cyber attack on industrial units: report TEHRAN: Iran has repelled a fresh cyber attack on its industrial units in a southern province, a local civil defence official said on Tuesday, accusing “enemies” of nonstop attacks against its infrastructure. “A virus had penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormuzgan province, but its progress was halted with … the cooperation of skilled hackers,” Ali Akbar Akhavan said, quoted by the ISNA news agency. Akhavan said the malware was “Stuxnetlike” but did not elaborate and that the attack had occurred over the “past few months.” Stuxnet, tailored specifically to target Iran’s uranium enrichment operation, struck Iran in 2010 and reportedly dealt a serious blow to its disputed atomic programme. Akhavan said one of the targets of the latest foiled attack was the Bandar Abbas Tavanir Co,
which oversees electricity production and distribution in Hormuzgan and adjacent provinces. He also accused “enemies” of constantly seeking to disrupt operations at Iran’s industrial units through cyber attacks, without specifying how much damage had been caused. The Islamic state has blamed the US and Israel for cyber attacks in the past. In April, it said a voracious virus attack had hit computers running key parts of its oil sector and succeeded in wiping data off official servers. Tehran is at odds with Washington and its allies which fear Iran’s nuclear activity is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. But Iran says its programme is solely for peaceful purposes. The US and Israel do not rule out military action against the Islamic state if diplomacy fails to stop its controversial nuclear activity.
Gunmen kill six in northeast Nigeria church attack KADUNA: Gunmen have killed six people at a church in northeast Nigeria, the military said on Tuesday, the third year running Christmas services have come under deadly attack in Africa’s most populous nation. The strike took place after a Christmas Eve midnight service outside the town of Potiskum, in northeast Yobe state, where Islamist sect Boko Haram has carried out several attacks this year, the military said. “Unknown gunmen attempted to attack Potiskum but were repelled by the troops, while they were fleeing they attacked a church in a village known as Jiri,” Military Spokesman Eli Lazarus said, confirming six people were killed. Members of Boko Haram have killed hundreds in a campaign to impose sharia law in northern Nigeria. The group killed dozens in a series of bombings across northern
Nigeria on churches on Christmas Day last year, mirroring similar attacks in 2010 which killed more than
At least 2,800 people have died in fighting in the largely Muslim north since Boko Haram
40. This year the police and army pledged to protect churches, boosting security in major northern towns and cities and restricting people’s movement.
launched an uprising against the government in 2009, watchdog Human Rights Watch says. Potiskum, which lies in Boko Haram’s northeastern strong-
hold, has been one of the areas worst affected by the insurgency. Security experts believe Boko Haram is targeting worshippers to spark a religious conflict in a country of 160 million people split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims. Many churches in Nigeria’s biggest northern city, Kano, and elsewhere in the north were almost empty for Christmas Day services on Tuesday, local residents said. Two people were killed in separate attacks on Tuesday in Kano, a police source said. He said gunmen riding motorcycles killed the driver of a government worker and another civilian. Pope Benedict used part of his Christmas message to the world on Tuesday to highlight the need for reconciliation in Nigeria, saying “savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians”.
Mandela to spend Security beefed for Pakistan’s first Indian Christmas in hospital JOHANNESBURG: Ailing icon Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in hospital, the South African government said on Monday, dashing hopes for a festive end to his longest stay in care since being released from prison in 1990. “Former president Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in hospital, his doctors have confirmed today, on 24 December 2012,” the presidency said in a statement. The 94-year-old Nobel Peace laureate and South Africa’s first black post-apartheid president, was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on December 8. He has been treated there for a recurrent lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones. In a statement President Jacob Zuma said his predecessor “continues to respond to treatment”. “Knowledge of the love and support of his people keeps him strong,” Zuma said. “We urge all South Africans to keep Tata (father) uppermost in their thoughts at every place of worship or entertainment tomorrow on Christmas Day, and throughout the festive season. “We also humbly invite all freedom loving people around the world to pray for him. He is an ardent fighter and will recover from this episode with all our support,” Zuma said. There was no indication of when he might be discharged. “He remains in hospital, recovering,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP on Monday. “I can’t say when he will be discharged, doctors will make that decision.” Only limited details of Mandela’s condition have been made public by the South African government, which has repeatedly called on the public to respect the former president’s privacy. Before his retirement in 2004 Mandela used to host a Christmas feast in his home village of Qunu for impoverished children, a highlight for many. Since retiring from public life, Christmas has been a more low-key affair, spent with family. Neither tradition will be repeated this year.
tour since 2008 Mumbai attacks
BANGALORE: Police were out in full force in Bangalore on Tuesday as part of a massive security operation ahead of Pakistan’s first cricket tour of India for five years, after 10 Pakistan-based gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai leading to strained ties between the two neighbours. The tour, the first by Pakistan since 2007, begins Tuesday 1830 (PST) with a Twenty20 international to be played under lights at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy stadium. Analysts see the cricket series as a sign the two sides are ready to move past the enmity that followed the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. India had blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group for the attacks and demanded that Islamabad crack down on terrorism. Iron barricades were lined up and riot control vehicles on duty as security men patrolled the stadium in the heart of Bangalore, the capital of the southeastern state of Karnataka. “We have completely sanitised and secured the stadium. We are confident that the match will be played without any disruptions,” a security officer on duty told AFP. Police were seen carrying out heavy frisking at the imposing stadium gates with as many as 200 surveillance cameras mounted on mastheads for constant monitoring of all activity in and around the ground. A crack police force, including Indian army commandos, was guarding the luxury ITC Gardenia hotel, where both teams are staying. The 2008 attacks had led to a complete breakdown in relations between the two countries before efforts were renewed last year to bring their fragile peace process back on track. Hardline Indian nationalist organisations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena have both threatened to hold protests outside all the venues, slamming the Indian government’s decision to host Pakistan.
New Delhi has defended the move by stressing the need to move the “clock forward”. Cricket has been used in the past to mend diplomatic ties between the two nations, which have fought three wars since they gained independence in 1947. In the years since the Mumbai attacks, some efforts have been made to bring bilateral relations out of the deep freeze. Direct trade has been increasing steadily and both countries have made efforts to increase trade across their land border. At the Wagah-Attari land border in Punjab, India has opened a huge customs depot and warehouses that can handle more than 600 trucks a day from Pakistan. Two-way trade direct between India and Pakistan totals around $2 billion, but a large chunk of the trade is channeled through Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore. Earlier this month, India and Pakistan signed an agreement that makes it easier for business travelers to get visas. People aged over 65 also will be entitled to get visas “on arrival.” Members of families divided during Britain’s partition of the subcontinent, along with tourists and religious pilgrims, are also supposed to get quick visas. “When Indians enter Pakistan and when Pakistanis enter India, they should feel like they are coming home,” Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, said during a visit to New Delhi two weeks ago when the two sides signed the visa agreement. India has issued more than 3,000 visas to Pakistanis for the cricket matches. But analysts caution that policy makers in India should not get carried away by the ‘friendly neighbor’ rhetoric. “All forms of people-to-people contact, including sports, are important and should be pursued, but never at the cost of our main focus, which is terrorism emanating from Pakistan,” said Vivek Katju, a retired diplomat who has served in Pakistan and was India’s ambassador in Afghanistan.
Pope urges ‘end to bloodshed’ in Syria in Christmas message VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for an “end to the bloodshed” in conflictwracked Syria in a traditional Christmas message that touched on several other of the world’s conflict zones. “There is hope in the world … even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations,” he said, praying that “peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims.” Speaking from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in a message watched by millions around the world, he called “for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.” A capacity crowd of 40,000 pilgrims filled the vast St Peter’s Square to hear the 85-year-old pope, resplendent in red vestments, deliver the message under partly cloudy skies. His wide-ranging “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) message also pointed to hotspots across Africa and urged religious freedom in China, and as usual called for peace in the Middle East. He notably lamented “savage acts of terrorism” that frequently target Christian churches in Nigeria. Also Tuesday, South African former president Nelson Mandela shared Christmas greetings with visitors to his hospital bedside, including his wife Graca Machel, other family members and President Jacob Zuma. “We found him in good spirits,” Zuma said. “He was happy to have visitors on this special day and is looking much better.” The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon was admitted on December 8 to a Pretoria hospital where has been treated for a recurrent lung infection and underwent surgery to remove gallstones. Another prominent former world leader was confined to a hospital bed for Christmas this year: Margaret Thatcher of Britain. The 87-year-old former prime minister was admitted to hospital on Thursday for a minor operation to remove a growth in her bladder. Meanwhile in Australia, unseasonal cool weather kept the usual Christmas revellers from thronging to Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, while wildfires raged in other parts of the country as the summer heat flared. Prime Minister Julia Gillard thanked emergency crews and others who had to work on the holiday, paying particular tribute to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. “To our troops abroad, we honour and admire you, and I hope your families know how grateful we are to you this time of year,” Gillard said in her annual Christmas message. Seven Australian troops died in the conflict in 2012; 39 have perished there over the past decade. In Indonesia, more than 200 Muslims threw rotten eggs at Christians wanting to hold a Christmas mass outside Jakarta, police said. Some 100 Christian worshippers intended to hold a mass near the spot where they hope to build a church, in a project that was barred by district government and community members in 2009. Since then, worshippers from the Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church have held Sunday services under scorching sun outside the property. On Tuesday, however, local community members blocked the road near the land, local police told AFP. Meanwhile in the United States, the organisation responsible for monitoring North American airspace helped with the important task of helping children track Santa Claus’s progress as he completed his whirlwind journey around the globe.
December 27, 2012
Lawmakers put generals, judges’ tax returns to test ISLAMABAD – A National Assembly committee has given 10 days to the FBR to tell it how the information of parliamentarians’ tax returns got leaked, besides demanding a ‘comparative study’ on the incomes and taxes being paid by generals, judges and federal secretaries.The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance Revenue and Economic Affairs also directed the PIA on Monday to present within ten days a detailed report on recruitment in the national airliner on high salary packages, and expressed dissatisfaction over the poor performance of PIA administration.The committee meeting presided over by its Chairman Khawaja Sohail Mansoor at the parliament house, directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to complete its investigation of the leaking of the ‘secret tax information’ of the parliamentarians, as some committee members suspected involvement of FBR officials.Being under fire over an investigative report, which exposed the extensive tax evasion by the parliamentarians, the FBR members denied having any part in it. FBR Member Admin Husnain Ahmad said it was a case of ‘data theft’, pointing out that the main source of information in
the report was election commission. FBR officials said the tax department has formed a team to investigate the whole affair.The members of the parlia-
was informed that 2.2 million people had National Tax Numbers (NTN) but only 0.9 million had filed tax returns. Parliamentary penal also criticised FBR
mentary committee also insisted that date of filing tax returns should be extended for parliamentarians by exempting them from penalty. The committee
for its failure to crack down on 3.8 million tax evaders identified by Nadra.The committee learnt that a PIA plane has crew of 442 members com-
pared to a private plan’s crew of only 125 members. It was also revealed that the airliner has more than 600 pilots while the total numbers of planes are only 26, producing a ratio of 23 pilots against one plane. The committee noted that heavy recruitment has been made in PIA and its performance deteriorated over the last several years.The NA body directed the PIA MD to present a detailed report on recruitments made over last few years. The MD admitted before the committee that PIA has surplus staff and assured that they would not give further extension to any official retiring from January 2013. He also admitted that the airline has faced loss in the Haj operation “mainly due to heavy fuel charges”.However, he said that PIA would record profit within current year on Haj flights. He also asserted that financial condition of the airlines has improved in last ‘three months’ due to change in administration. “The PIA remained in profit in last three months,” the MD said. He admitted that PIA could not compete with other international airlines at present, however, he was optimistic that situation would improve in the months to come ‘with purchase of new planes’.
Muslim modernism and Jinnah There’s no controversy about Quaid-iAzam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s modernist identity. While many commentators in Pakistan and the rest of the world recognise Jinnah as such, this particular aspect of his person, leadership and social vision has escaped our attention. At a time when we as Pakistanis and our country face a challenge of identity in defining our present and future path as a nation state, we need to explore Muslim modernism in South Asia in length and engage with Jinnah’s thought, life and politics intensively. The Muslim modernist elite fought two parallel struggles that later in historical developments converged on the idea of Pakistan. The first struggle was for Muslim awakening to the challenges included modern education, joining modern professions like medicine, law and the government services of the colonial power, Britain. These are things that we take for granted in modern day Pakistan and in other societies. But think of Muslims in India in the later part of the 19th century and you will find two retrogressive tendencies among them. At large they were fatalists, pessimistic and sought refuge in the multilayered cocoon of tradition. They were comfortable within their cocoon and unwilling to experience the life and opportunity that the colonial modernity was opening up for many Indians. The forward-looking individuals, families and social groups among the Indians embraced modernity. The Muslims living in the glory of the past and interpreting history and conflict with the British more in religious tones than applying reason to their plight, hurt their interest in the social and economic power balance with other communities. This became the real concern of the Muslim modernists: how to awaken Muslims to rise and empower them-
selves. The Muslim modernist, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his great colleagues, supporters and followers understood the logic of modern education, science and technology. Every idea they had about empowering Muslim community was rooted essentially in post-renaissance enlightenment. This included faith in reason that challenged old ideas of life and living, keeping what was relevant, explainable, logical and useful and leaving what was superstitious. They were highly impressed by new learning essential in science which marked a new beginning in human frontiers at personal as well as collective level. The Mohammedans Scientific Society in the 1860’s translated scientific books into Urdu and distributed among Muslims, along with articles in magazines and newspapers, about modern sciences and how Muslims and others could benefit. The new learning couldn’t be possible without bringing Muslims to the British educational system. This was the first step that most of the Muslims were reluctant to take, fearing they would lose their faith and identity. The mullah of the subcontinent and his religious network that sustained his power and orthodoxy, built a counter movement of rejectionism presenting modern education as conflictive with Islamic ideas and ideals. Fighting this mindset we find so challenging today in the 21st century was a far greater daunting task in the latter part of the 19th century. To counter the mullah and liberate Muslims from his deadly embrace, the modernists adopted establishment of modern educational institutions like the Aligarh Muslim University and many other institutions, including the Sindh Madrassatul Islam where Jinnah got his elementary education. The mobilisation of Muslims and their educational awakening worked, though at a slower pace with resources and a culture of orthodoxy
being the major constraint. Even after almost half a century of social movement, the proportionate numbers of Muslims in modern professions and government were lower than others. The best educational institutions including the Government College in Lahore around the time of independence, had much lower enrolment of Muslims than their numbers could justify. Nonetheless, a significant section of Muslims throughout India from Bengal to the Punjab had joined the new stream of modern education and professions. Mohammad Iqbal and Jinnah, the former a great thinker and dreamer and the other a practical politician that translated the dream of Pakistan into a reality, were the product of a new cultural climate that Muslim modernists had struggled half a century ago. Iqbal ventured into complex and difficult terrain in the re-interpreting the Islamic thought and practices along with a message of hope, change, empowerment and general awakening among Muslims. He wanted them to recapture the glory of their civilization by walking step-in-step with the modern world. The past was relevant to the present, and this could be possible only through creative interpretation, leaving the well-beaten path of tradition. This needs some explanation. I am impressed by Eqbal Ahmed’s interpretation of Iqbal and Jinnah as constructivist Muslims, a lead that he takes from Iqbal’s four lectures on reinterpretation of religious thought in Islam. What does constructivism mean? It means living in the present and embracing modern institutions, law and practices, both social as well as political without losing sense of what is essential in the religion. It is never a rejection of religion but only its continual reinterpretation through modern institutions, like an elected parliament that may reflect the Muslim consensus.
Before I turn to Jinnah and his modernism, we need to mention the second struggle of the Muslims, the political equality and participation. This struggle was shaped by the first empowerment that came from education and entry into modern professions. When the British under the political reform programme in the beginning of the 2oth century opened up some space for representation of Indians, the Muslim leaders rightly raised the issue of their representation as a separate community. There had been a strong sense of Muslim community within the Indian civilisation fold for centuries that Muslim rule under four different dynasties for almost a millennium had further fostered. Its conversion to a modern notion of Muslim nationalism resulted from education and question of representation in all institutions symbolising power and authority in the context of imperial India. Jinnah was a modernist Muslim more in political, cultural and social sense of the word than in the constructivism of Iqbal. His intellectual development in Britain was rooted in modern law and constitution that had roots in British history and European modernisation. He embraced the ideal of liberation and independent nationalism. The Indian nationalism first and wider philosophy of individual and collective rights had origins in his own development and embracing of modernity as a path to national progress. Besides his profession, the practice of law, all his life was devoted to the independence of India and later how to secure representation of Muslims in the British and post-British institutions through lawful, constitutional and democratic means. Once that quest lasting until the Cabinet Mission plan failed, he
found the ideal of an independent Muslim state the only idea for many Muslims. There are too many interpretations of Jinnah on this, and this is not the right place to get into them. What is relevant for us today in Pakistan, the Pakistan of the 21st century, is the larger discourse on modernity and modernism. While we may learn from Iqbal about creative interaction between civilisation and modern times, we can learn from the life and though of Jinnah about modern politics of individual rights, constitutional argument, freedoms, and democracy. The last thing, and I believe the most significant point if the idea of the state of Pakistan as a neutral space among religion that Jinnah placed before the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. We have deviated from that vision, a modernist vision of Pakistan according to which religion is safer in the civil society that being a strong arm of the modern state. Sooner we get back to this modernist vision, the better for our social order, peace and stability.
Indian policeman injured in gang-rape protest dies: official NEW DELHI: An Indian policeman who was injured in clashes during a protest over a gang-rape in New Delhi died on Tuesday, a police spokesman said. The 47-year-old police constable, Subash Tomar, was deployed at the India Gate monument on Sunday to control the protests. He was beaten up by a mob and rushed to hospital by the police. “The protesters pelted stones at Tomar, he was unconscious for two days and today he died,” New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP. More than 50 policemen were injured in Sunday’s violence as police struggled to quell increasing outrage over sex crimes following the gangrape of a student. Tomar’s cousin Ajay who was in the hospital to claim the body said he had joined the police in 1985 and never spent a single festival with the family. “My cousin was always out on streets maintaining law and order. The mob attacked him for no reason. They just killed him,” said Ajay Tomar. Much of central Delhi remains sealed off after the wave of violent protests over the gang-rape of a 23year-old student in the capital and a surge in violence
against women. Protests have taken place across India over the last week to denounce the police and government. National figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year were against
women, with the number of rapes in the capital rising 17 per cent to 661 this year. The biggest protests were in New Delhi on the weekend, prompting police to cordon off areas around government buildings. More than 100 people were injured including dozens of policemen. The clampdown was tightened Monday, with commuters having to make lengthy detours to get to work.
Riaz’s lawyer may file case in UK LAHORE/ISLAMABAD- Zahid Bokhari, counsel for property tycoon Malik Riaz, will leave for UK on Tuesday to explore the possibility of filing a case against Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. “Had Pakistani courts done justice, there would have been no need to approach foreign courts,” Mr Bokhari told journalists at the Lahore High Court on Monday. He said the Supreme Court had declared that the case between Malik Riaz
and Mr Arsalan was a private one and they could resort to legal proceedings against each other. He alleged that Mr Arsalan had enjoyed benefits in London with the money provided by Malik Riaz and a competent court of the UK could be approached for legal action. However, he added, he would consult British legal experts before filing a civil or criminal case against Mr Arsalan.
December 27, 2012
Zardari chairs law and order meeting KARACHI - Terming terrorism and insurgency biggest issues of the country, President Asif Ali Zardari Monday urged all political parties and civil society to play their role to get rid of the country from the problems.Strictly condemning recent target killings, and shooting incident in Jinnah Hospital, President Zardari ordered law enforcing agencies to ensure the protection of the lives of people. He also directed stern action against criminal elements. The meeting decided to install CCTV cameras and computerised check posts at all entry and exit gates of Karachi and Sindh. It also decided to provide 5,000 bullet proof jackets and over 100 armoured vehicles to police. The meeting also decided special training to police. Later, the president addressed to a book
itage.The President said that research on tiles was a rare subject to write on. He said that the authors by tracing the origin and history of ceramic tiles have traced the history of the art and craft of ceramic tiles. They have informed us about how the art and craft of ceramic tiles traveled from Central Asia, China and Prussia to Sindh, Multan and Lahore. "Pakistan is a land of beauty and splendour. It is the land of Sufis and saints. Our religion and culture teaches us tolerance. He said that Hazrat Data Ganj Baksh, Qalander Lal Shahbaz, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Rehman Baba, Mast Tawakli and Bilawal Faqir, all have preached peace and harmony. We need to imbibe their spirit of tolerance, peace and harmony", he added.
launching ceremony. He said the country is passing through turbulent times and the need for imbibing the spirit of tolerance and harmony has never been as great as it is today. He said that there is an urgent need to undertake efforts for preservation of the cultural heritage of the country. He said that the youth needs to be educated in the richness of Pakistan's cultural her-
Assad meets envoy as regime suffers blow Change only through DAMASCUS - Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held talks in Syria on Monday with President Bashar al-Assad, as rebels seized large parts of a village populated by the embattled leader’s Alawite community. The opposition National Coalition, meanwhile, accused Damascus of committing a “massacre” of dozens of civilians in the bombing of a bakery - an allegation fended off by the Assad regime. “I had the honour to meet the president and as usual we exchanged views on the many steps to be taken in the future,” Brahimi said a day after arriving in Damascus to launch a new bid to end the conflict. The UN and Arab League envoy said the crisis was “always worrying” given the scale of the bloodshed. More than 44,000 people are estimated to have been killed since the eruption in March 2011 of a Sunni Muslim-led uprising against Assad’s regime dominated by his Alawite offshoot of Shia Islam. Brahimi, who last visited Syria on October 19, expressed hope “all parties are in favour of a solution that draws Syrian people together”. “Assad expressed his views on the situation and I told him about my meetings with leaders in the region and outside,” said the veteran Algerian diplomat who took over from former UN chief Kofi Annan. Assad said his “government is committed to ensure the success of all efforts aimed at pro-
tecting the sovereignty and independence of the country,” state television reported. Brahimi’s arrival in Syria coincided with reports at least 60 people were killed in a regime air strike on a bakery in the town of Halfaya, in the central province of Hama.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented 43 names of people killed in Halfaya, among them 40 men and three women. Activists said the attack amounted to a “massacre”. But the official SANA news agency blamed the killing on an “armed terrorist group” the regime term for rebels - saying “many women and children” had died. The opposition National Coalition,
which is recognised by dozens of countries and organisations as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, blamed Assad’s regime for the “massacre” in Halfaya, saying it “targeted children, women and men who went out to get their scarce daily bread ration.” Also in Hama, the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and other Islamist groups overran on Monday large parts of Maan an Alawite village, said the Observatory. The monitoring group said at least 11 rebel fighters and 20 regime troops were killed. Rebels last week launched an allout assault on army positions across Hama, home to a patchwork of religious communities, says the Observatory. While anti-regime sentiment in the province is strong, regime forces had so far suppressed any major signs of insurgency in Hama, which links strategic provinces such as Damascus, Idlib in the northwest, and Homs in central Syria. Activists meanwhile accused Assad’s regime of unleashing killer gas bombs in the central city of Homs. The Observatory said six rebels died in Homs on Sunday night after inhaling “odorless gas and white smoke” emanating from bombs deployed by regime forces in clashes with rebels. Russia, one of the few staunch allies of Syria, downplayed fears of chemical weapons being deployed. “I do not believe Syria would use chemical weapons,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told English-language television channel RT. “It would be a political suicide for the government if it does.”
ballot, says Nawaz
LAHORE - PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has underscored the need for timely general elections for the survival, integrity and stability of the country. “The way to change the government is only the ballot and survival of the country lies only in timely and transparent elections,” said the PML-N president while addressing the party committee on the code of conduct here Monday. Nawaz said Pakistan came into being through a democratic process and the next government should also come through democracy. Timely and transparent elections, he said, was the right of every Pakistani. He said holding of the elections would not only be recognition of the right to vote but also go a long way to lend respect to the country in the comity of the civilised world. Nawaz said elections under an independent election commission and an interim government would be a gift to the nation, adding the election results would reflect the aspirations of the masses.While referring to the heavy turnout in the last by-elections, he said it was reflective of the public commitment to a change through the ballot. He said the masses were anxiously awaiting the elections so that they could get rid of the elements that had made their lives a hell and elect those capable of serving them and steering the country out of the present quagmire. The committee also presented report to the party chief on the code of conduct and discussed its different aspects.
MQM challenges SC orders for delimitation President Zardari visits Mazar-e-Quaid KARACHI - The MQM on Monday filed two separate review petitions at the Supreme Court against its orders of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi.The petitions – filed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders Farooq Sattar and Senator Dr Farogh Naseem at the Karachi Registry of apex court – stated that redrawing boundaries of the constituencies was illegal, and that it could not be done without census and house count in the
city.They also said that ‘singling out’ Karachi for the delimitation process reflects a ‘biased’ conduct of authorities, demanding that new constituencies should be redrawn in the whole country. The petitioners prayed to the court to review its November 26 and 28 orders it issued while hearing a suo moto notice regarding law and order in the city.Farooq Sattar said the SC verdict tantamount to pushing the MQM mandate to
the wall. “This verdict runs contrary to law and constitution as no ambiguity exists in law and constitution in this regard,” he told reporters.The court has ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to draw new electoral constituencies in consultation with political parties, besides conducting a door-to-door verification of electoral rolls in Karachi, with assistance of army and Frontier Constabulary. On Thursday, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim rejected MQM’s reservations and vowed that the task of drawing up new constituency boundaries would be completed in the light of the apex court orders.
President Asif Ali Zardari visited the Mazar of Quaid-e-Azam in Karachi on Tuesday and offered fateha.
December 27, 2012
Trade with India Javed Husain
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Education system in Pakistan It is heartening to see the recent step taken by the Government of Punjab to organise the Punjab Youth Festival 2012 in order to promote youth development. Unfortunately, it is a reality that successive governments, both federal and provincial, in Pakistan have seldom planned large-scale events for the betterment of youth. However, the large number of participants in the festival proves that lack of opportunities, not lack of spirit is the problem. It is high time that the incumbent federal and provincial governments formulate and implement policies focusing mainly on academic programmes for students. Or, perhaps, even if they are doing so, it’s just not good enough! They need to “do more”. If the governments sincerely want children to grow into productive members of the society, then change should be brought at the grassroots level. Pakistan’s education system has been criticised for not concentrating on youth development that is absolutely true. Therefore, first the governments should focus on revising or otherwise updating the current system adopted for Matric students, since it is deeply flawed. The biggest flaw is that examinations are held annually for the students who opt for Matric than O’ levels. It would be better if the semester system is effectively implemented at all levels throughout Pakistan, rather than the annual system. This, indeed, will help teachers, parents and students themselves to review their performances during the semesters, and also the mid and final exams, so that they can make up for the deficiencies gradually.
Further, since questions in the exams are selected only from the textbooks taught in class, the students rely more on rote learning, rather than understanding the concepts. In the long run, this will prove detrimental for the nation’s progress, because when students stop learning facts meaningfully, they stop asking questions and eventually they stop thinking and rationalising. And if this happens, they will fail to bring about the much needed change that Pakistan so desperately desires. Hence, the shortcomings in the education system will spell disaster for the country’s coming generations; so they need to be eliminated as soon as possible. The quickest solution would be to adopt an external examination system. Examination systems such as the International Baccalaureate (“an effective, instructionally sound, exam-based system”) offer a wide range of subjects that are designed to encourage students to ask questions; adopting it will help remove many of the faults prevalent in our own education system. Further, it will be better to analyse the criteria adopted by top educational institutions around the world. By doing so, we can improve the standard of education in Pakistan, which will benefit the students in particular and the nation in general. It will also motivate our students to compete with foreign students at international levels. As a final word, we need to make quick decisions to improve the education system for our youth and for an educated, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan.
The rise of cheddar “THEY do take a lot of convincing,” admitted Marie Quatrehomme, an award-winning Parisian cheesemonger, “but once they do, they’re very happy with it.” The problem, she said from her illustrious Left Bank cheese shop, Quatrehomme, is that “cheddar is well-liked by the French once they try it, but at the same time it’s very little known”. Slowly, though, the French palate — spoiled after being weaned on the ripest brie and most sumptuous camembert — is coming round to the idea of British cheddar. “Its appeal in France lies in its wonderful shape and texture and in the fact that it is very close in appearance to the French cheese cantal and yet has a totally different taste,” says Quatrehomme. “We stock cheddar all year, but I’ve just taken a large order for Christmas and I’m really proud to offer two of the best varieties.” The rise of cheddar is arguably best exemplified by the success of Cathedral City, made by Dairy Crest and recently voted one of Britain’s favourite brands, which entered the French market five years ago and now sells about a quarter of a million packets every year. Sales in France are up five per cent year on year. British cheese generally has never been as
popular abroad, according to Nigel White, secretary of the British Cheese Board, an education body funded by British cheesemakers. “120,000 tonnes of British cheese was exported last year across the world — more than double the amount 10 years ago,” he said. Before then, British cheeses were too mild for continental tastes, said White. “Until 1990, about 60 per cent of cheddars made in Britain were mild. Now, twothirds are mature, which appeal more to countries used to stronger cheeses.” Stilton has long found foreign favour, and now more than 1,000 tonnes are produced for the export market each year, said White. But these days, that once respectable variety has been dwarfed by cheddar exports, which have reached 35,000 tonnes a year. Cathedral City’s appeal — to foreigners and Britons alike — is partly based on its packets being emblazoned with an oldeworlde church, and customers probably imagine the cheese is churned by God-fearing monks in a monastery in some ancient English town. In fact, it is made on an industrial scale in Davidstow, Cornwall, which does not have a cathedral and is not a city.
The liberal class and the Indophiles in Pakistan are the most vocal champions of the liberalisation of trade with India, irrespective of its consequences for Pakistan’s economy. On the other extreme are those who oppose this process because apparently they consider it a favour by Pakistan to India and, therefore, would link it to the resolution of the outstanding Pakistan-India disputes. Pakistan’s best interests are not served by either of these two extremes. There is, of course, a strong case for trade with India on a mutually beneficial basis in accordance with the principle of comparative advantage. Such an approach would require the liberalisation of trade with India on a level playing field with due safeguards for protecting the health of our economy and ensuring that it does not capture the commanding heights of our economy. Trade with India on these lines would be in the interest of both Pakistan and India, and not a favour to India. It defies logic, therefore, to make such trade conditional upon the prior resolution of the outstanding disputes between the two countries. This is not to deny, however, that progress towards the resolution of the bilateral disputes would help create a propitious political climate for the promotion of Pakistan-India trade and economic links. Conversely, India’s intransigent attitude on the peaceful settlement of the Pakistan-India disputes would act as a serious obstacle in exploiting the full potential of bilateral trade on a mutually beneficial basis. From purely economic point of view, the promotion of external trade helps accelerate economic growth in the trading partners through a more efficient allocation of resources, economies of scale and the beneficial effects of increased competition. It also works to the advantage of consumers and producers by making the finished goods and raw materials available at lower prices. Of course, the increase in external trade invariably involves the cost and the inconvenience of the adjustment process through which the resources are diverted from less efficient to more efficient sectors in the trading partners. In particular, this factor may have serious implications for the employment situation in the countries engaged in external trade, thereby providing political support to protectionist policies. It is not surprising, therefore, to see the governments of even the most developed countries bending over backwards to protect those industries whose existence is threatened by foreign competition. A better approach is to facilitate the adjustment process through appropriate fiscal and monetary policies and to make it less painful through appropriate educational and training programmes. There is also the risk that infant industries in which a country may have a long-term advantage may not be able to compete in the short term with the corresponding highly developed industries in the trading partners. Such infant industries would need a measure of protection in the short term to enable them to grow and gain strength so as to stand on their own feet. The infant industry argument, however, should not be used to protect inefficient industries or industries in which a country does not enjoy comparative advantage. For instance, the infant industry argument should not be applied to our textile sector, which has received enough featherbedding in the past and now should be able to face the competition from India because of our comparative advantage in this sector. The question arises: whether our Ministry of Commerce and its affiliated agencies have carried out studies with the help of economists specialising in international trade to identify the likely effects of the liberalisation of trade with India on the overall health and growth of our economy as well as on different economic sectors? At a recent panel discussion arranged by
the Lahore Council for World Affairs on trade with India, I was shocked to hear from a senior representative of the Ministry of Commerce that no such study had been conducted while carrying out the process of liberalisation of trade with India. If this information is true and I believe it is, it reflects a serious dereliction of its responsibilities by the Ministry of Commerce. Even now, perhaps, it is not too late for our government to commission the required studies to assess the likely effects of the process of liberalisation of trade with India on our economy and its different sectors. More specifically, these studies should focus on the following aspects of this process: Its likely effects on Pakistan’s GDP and its growth as well as on employment in the country; The trade diversion and trade creation effects of the liberalisation of trade with India; The likely effects of a liberalised trade regime with India on different components of our industrial and agricultural sectors; A comparative study of the tariff and non-tariff barriers in Pakistan and India to ensure that our producers and exporters are assured of a level playing field in trade with India. The government should formulate policies relating to trade with India in the light of the findings and conclusions of these studies after consulting our leaders in industrial, agricultural and commercial sectors. Pakistan already faces a huge deficit in its balance of trade. It is not in our interest to allow the trade with India to be conducted in such a manner as to increase this deficit substantially. Therefore, we must study carefully the manner in which the Indian government provides open and hidden subsidies to the agricultural and industrial sectors. Keeping in view the findings of those studies, our government should adopt the necessary fiscal and monetary policies to ensure that our producers and exporters are not at a disadvantage in competing with India. Our Indophiles would like us to ignore security considerations in conducting our economic and commercial relations with India. This is not an advisable approach. Even developed countries, like the US and Canada, take into account security considerations in taking decisions on major economic and commercial issues relating to foreign trade and investment. For instance, it has been widely reported by the international media that the governments of the USA and Canada have not allowed Chinese companies to buy local firms, which in the view of those governments had some strategic value. Pakistan and India, unfortunately, have had a history of difficult relations marked by wars and conflicts. There is still a great deal of mutual suspicion and mistrust between them. Further, Pakistan is unlikely to acquiesce in India’s quest for hegemony in South Asia. These realities cannot be ignored in the management of Pakistan-India economic and commercial relations. The demand of security considerations, therefore, is that under no circumstances we should allow Indian firms and entities to capture the commanding heights of Pakistan’s economy. Similarly, we should not become dependent on India for the import of goods of strategic value. In dealing with the issue of liberalisation of trade with India, we should adopt a balanced approach. Trade with India would be in our interest if it is conducted in such a manner as to safeguard our economic, commercial and security interests. This would require that the subject of trade with India is studied from different angles and the policy framework for Pakistan-India trade is devised in the light of the conclusions of these studies. We should open the doors of trade with India, keeping in view all the likely effects of this step on the current condition and the future prospects of our economy as well as our national security.
A foodie in Vietnam Irfan Husain ALL foodies should visit Vietnam at least once. For a relatively small country, it has an amazing spectrum of dishes on offer. Some are simple, others complex and sophisticated. But even the simplest ones are delicious, thanks to the fresh ingredients. Take pho as an example: this uncomplicated dish is a great favourite in the North, and is sold at a large number of roadside stalls. The base for the dish is beef broth prepared by boiling bones and meat for hours; after skimming the surface of any scum, it is then served with thin pasta strands and slices of chicken or beef; prawns are another option. Sliced into the bowl are green scallions, and you add red chilli paste to taste. This is simple but delicious fast food eaten by millions of Vietnamese for breakfast, or just as a quick snack. In Hanoi where we spent one night, our guidebook sent us to Highway 4, a restaurant in the old city a few streets away from our hotel. Here, the menu stretched from crocodile ribs to roast crickets, with lots of fish, beef and chicken dishes in between. The spicing is often complex, but does not disguise the flavour of the ingredients. Starters have lots of rolls and other small offerings also available at street stalls. Due to its long coastline, Vietnam is blessed with fine beaches, stunning bays and lots of seafood. Understandably, foreigners have begun flocking here for holidays. And so far, prices are very reasonable. When I first started to spend time in Sri Lanka over a decade ago, the cost of living
was below Pakistan’s; but years of inflation have changed this equation until now, Sri Lanka is a more expensive destination than Thailand or Vietnam. Hanoi, the capital, is not as crowded or as commercial as Ho Chi Minh City (as Saigon is now known as), but the streets are still full of cars and motorcycles. The latter are piloted by young men and women who hurtle about as though they were on suicide missions. Dressed alike in jeans, jackets and helmets, they all seem to be in a desperate hurry to get somewhere. In fact, most people are either talking rapidly on their cell phones, or speeding along on cars or scooters. All too often, they are doing both. And when they dismount from their bikes, they park them on the pavement, forcing pedestrians on to the roads, never a very safe place to be. Oddly, driving on motorways is far more sedate, with drivers sticking scrupulously to the speed limit. Landing at Danang on our way to our destination, Hoi An, we passed a famous marble quarry as well as shops selling large relief carvings and sculptures. The small, charming town of Hoi An contains numerous art galleries, apart from many restaurants, bars and curio shops. There are also innumerable tailors happy to turn out suits or shirts made to measure in a couple of days for amazingly low prices. In fact, ordering a new wardrobe here would offset the price of the air ticket. I plan to shame my tailor in (Cont.. to next page)
December 27, 2012
Pakistan, Afghanistan trying to turn Taliban into political movement KABUL - Pakistan is genuine about backing a nascent Afghan peace process and shares the Kabul government’s goal of transforming the Taliban insurgency into a political movement, a senior Afghan government official told Reuters.Pakistan is seen as critical to US and Afghan efforts to promote peace in Afghanistan, a task that is gaining urgency as Nato troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014 and hand over security responsibilities to government forces.“They have told us that they share the vision contained in our roadmap which is basically to transform the Taliban from a military entity into a political entity to enable them to take part in the Afghan political process and peacefully seek power like any other political entity in Afghanistan,” the official said, referring to Pakistan. “This is the vision that they share.”The official’s remarks signalled unprecedented optimism from Afghanistan that Pakistan was willing to put its weight behind reconciliation efforts, which are still in early stages and vulnerable to factionalism.“I think we are also seeing a situation where the extremist threat is developing in a direction that is getting out of everybody’s control,” said the senior Afghan government official. “That is only bad news for everyone who has any interest in stability for their own country.”The official, who is closely involved in reconciliation efforts, said recent faceto-face talks between senior Taliban members and Afghan officials in France were an “enormously helpful” step in building a wider environment for
peace.The Taliban spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the discussions in France. The talks included former members of the
are genuine in this discussion with us,” said the Afghan official.Another track for talks, between the Taliban and the United States held in Qatar,
Northern Alliance faction, which fought the Taliban for years, and Afghan peace negotiators.The Taliban say they were represented by prominent figures in the movement such as Shahabuddin Delawar, from its political office, which is based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar.Until now, the Taliban and Afghan officials only made indirect contacts. “We are very optimistic. We believe that they
was suspended by the militants. They said inconsistencies in the US negotiating position were discouraging.The Afghan official cautioned that in order to sustain Kabul’s confidence, Pakistan would need to take further concrete steps after releasing some mid-level Afghan Taliban members from detention, who may be useful in promoting peace.Pakistan would gain more trust from Kabul
by meeting a request to release from detention the Taliban’s former second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.Asked whether Pakistan had indicated it would hand him over, the Afghan official said: “Not in concrete terms”.“I think there is a sense that we are also getting, that cooperation from Pakistan now is bound to be meaningful, substantive,” he said.“The reason is frankly, most in Pakistan, in our view, have reached the conclusion that time is running out. That it is no longer just about Afghanistan’s instability and Afghanistan’s insecurity but it’s very much a question of security for themselves.” The Haqqani militant network is seen as a potential spoiler in the peace process. The group is allied with the Taliban but diplomats say it is highly unpredictable.Nevertheless, it would be welcomed to the peace process as long as it met certain conditions, said the official.“From our point of view, the door of peace is open to anyone. The Haqqanis are a pretty challenging group of people,” he said. “But if they choose to come over to the peace process, then I am sure the peace process will include them.”The senior Afghan official said Afghanistan hoped to start formal negotiations with the Taliban next year.“The Taliban should be able to make some form of transformation towards being a political entity soon,” he said.“The key period is 2013. If Pakistan and Afghanistan work hard enough we should be able to achieve some progress on that front.”
A foodie in Vietnam Four securitymen killed in Balochistan attacks Karachi by telling him about the prices here, not that Karachi tailors are capable of being embarrassed… Although GDP per capita is around $1,500, it is growing rapidly. Many forecasts indicate that the economy will soon be growing at 10 per cent annually as market reforms increase exports, and more foreign visitors and investments flow in. Although Vietnam is ruled by the Communist Party, its economy is increasingly taking on a capitalist hue, much as it has done in China. Oil is the biggest export, contributing around 22 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. The number of tourists visiting Vietnam is currently around six million, and growing at over 10 per cent annually. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before this small country is overrun by visitors, and the coastline covered by holiday resorts. Already, a large number of tourist hotels block the view of the sea between Danang and Hoi An. Many of the names of places and towns one sees and hears in Vietnam remind me of the terrible war that ended in 1975 with the defeat of the United States. Danang was one of the largest American bases; Hanoi was bombed relentlessly for months; and Hue was the site of a protracted battle that saw the ancient seat of power virtually destroyed. The city is now slowly being restored to its past glory. But despite the terrible destruction visited on the country by American forces, I find no great
anger towards their erstwhile foes among the younger generation of Vietnamese. American tourists and investors seem to be as welcome here as any other foreigners. So here’s an odd thing: Vietnam, a country that lost around 1.5 million dead in the war apart from countless wounded and displaced, harbours no hatred for America. Pakistan, a country that has lost a few hundred innocent people in drone attacks, but has received scores of billions of dollars in American aid, is one of the most virulently anti-American countries in the world. Vietnam is clearly a country that is modernising rapidly, and does not dwell on the past in its keen desire to join the ranks of developed countries. Most Muslims, on the other hand, live mostly in the past, embittered by our slide to the bottom in a highly competitive world. Blaming the West for our misfortunes, we nurse ancient grievances, refusing to accept any responsibility for our predicament. Returning to my favourite topic of gastronomy, I am glad to report that I am booked for a cooking lesson by a top chef in Hoi An. But before you ask me for details in case you want to visit, be warned that getting a Vietnamese visa is not a simple affair if, like me, you have a green Pakistani passport. So thanks for all your help in getting my visa, Mosharraf.
QUETTA – Five people including four securitymen were killed in different bomb and gun attacks in Balochistan on Monday.Three people, including two personnel of Balochistan Constabulary (BC) were shot dead in two separate incidents of firing in Quetta, while two personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) were killed and four others wounded in two separate armed and bomb attacks in Mashkey and Hub.According to details, three people, including two personnel of Balochistan Constabulary (BC) were shot dead in two separate incidents of firing in Quetta.A party of BC was passing from Eastern Bypass area near cattle market when unidentified armed men sprayed bullets on it. Resultantly, three BC personnel sustained serious injuries.“The injured were being shifted to hospital when two personnel succumbed to their injuries before reaching hospital,” police said.Police and other law-enforcement agencies rushed to the site after the incident and cordoned off the area.The victims were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta where deceased were identified as Abdul Haleem and Muhammad Arshad while the injured was identified as Yar Muhammad.
Hospital sources said that condition of injured is serious. Police said that investigations were underway to ascertain motive behind the attack.Separately, unidentified armed men shot dead a driver of a container in Sariab locality. Police said that the incident occurred in New Sariab police station area when armed men opened indiscriminate firing on a container killing its driver identified as Muhammad Qasim on the spot.Police said that assailants in both the incidents managed to flee from the scene. Meanwhile, a Frontier Corps (FC) party was moving from Mashkey to Quetta when armed persons attacked it. As a result, two soldiers were killed in the attack.The deceased were identified as Saifullah and Shahzad.When contacted Home Secretary Balochistan Captain (Retd) Akbar Hussain Durrani confirmed the incident and said that two of the FC soldiers were killed in the ambush. However, he denied that Army soldiers were killed in the attack. Separately, an explosive attached with a motorcycle parked at Sakran Road Hub of Lasbela district went off with a huge blast when the convoy of FC passed by.
06 December 27, 2012
December 27, 2012
Enter tainment Movie Review:
Dabangg 2 As an industry of thoroughbred masala movies, Bollywood is a difficult animal to understand – much less pass judgment on. On one hand there are those who live for mindless entertainment, eulogising even the most irksome codswallop to godly status; one can often find these ‘attention handicapped’ people belonging to certain starbacked factions – be they critics or choleric howlers in the comments section. Then there are those who live to thrash the ‘blockbusters’ with new-age, in-
dependent or art-house films, protesting favour to the pseudo-intelligent cinema – which there is too little of anyways. To spank or slaughter a movie – as some-
one told me in a conversation sometime back – in the age of the internet is child’s play; all it takes is an internet connection and maybe a blog. Ergo: a long-line of media-age critics are born; good, bad, irrelevant, become a meaningless point of view backed by quick-tempered writing and personal bias, if anything else. That is why I estimate that Dabangg 2, the self-effacingly natural extension to Dabangg, restarring Salman Khan, will get a motley show of votes from these ‘so called’ critics of cinema. An entertaining blockbuster may not be their thing, but denying of what it is, is anything but stark biasness. How did that Habib Jalib verse go? –Main nahin maanta, Main nahin maanta! As Dabangg 2 opens, a ‘splat and splash’ title sequence recounts what happened in the first movie, followed by a homage-esque baddie beat-em-up (think of this type of opening to become its franchise staple). We learn that Chulbul Pandey – the coolest of avatars Mr. Khan has done to date – has a new affix appending his name: he is Chulbul, Robin Hood “Kung-Fu” Pandey. The tag has an uncanny adhesive-like quality to it; it sticks well to Chulbul’s frame as he whips baddies throughout the 120-odd
minute running time. The action – the neatest mix of physical and wirework since the original – is offset by the subtlest narratives a continuation gets to expand on. Chulbul, with a once-estranged father and brother (Vinod Khanna and director-actor Arbaaz Khan) and wife – an enrapturing Sonakshi Sinha, who justifies the film’s ace song “Dagabaaz Naina” – are now stationed at Kanpur. As it happens (ala Singham style), it is a suburban state with a trademark goon, Bacha Bhai (a brilliantly stereotypical Prakash Raj), running for the local office. The bulk of their interaction is about flexing muscles. Bacha Bhai – and his brothers – flex theirs, Chulbul flexes his; with Mr. Khan’s still-
Indian acid attack victim who became a TV millionaire When Sonali Mukherjee spurned the advances of three of her fellow students, they responded by melting her face with acid. But rather than hide herself away, the 27year-old applied to appear on India’s mostwatched TV quiz show, and walked away a millionaire. “If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too,” Mukherjee tells AFP in her tiny home in the capital
New Delhi. “It’s very easy for victims of acid attacks to swallow poison but I made the choice to stand up and scream and shout against the violence.” The recent gang-rape of a university student on a bus in New Delhi, which sparked angry protests across India, has again shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the levels of violence against women in the country, where sex assaults are often dismissed as mere “eve-teasing”. National crime records show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year were against women. Nine years ago, Mukherjee was a promising student at a college in the eastern city of Dhanbad when the three students broke into her home while she was sleeping and hurled acid on her face for rejecting them. They used a liquid known as “Tezaab”, which is normally used to clean rusted tools. Her attackers used it to melt Mukherjee’s eyelids, nose and ears.
Even after 22 subsequent surgical procedures, she remains blind and partially deaf. No one has ever been convicted of the attack. The three were arrested and spent some time behind bars on remand but were later freed on bail and the case has been bogged in India’s notoriously slow justice system. “They couldn’t take a ‘no’ from me and so they decided to snatch my face, and steal my life away,” she said as she groped for water to
wash down medicine administered by her father. The Indian government does not keep specific figures on acid attacks. According to the London-based charity Acid Survivors Trust International, about 1,500 acid attacks are reported globally each year. But many more victims do not report their injuries to the authorities and instead suffer in silence. Mukherjee says that numerous appeals failed to produce any financial or legal support from the state. Instead her family had to sell their two-storey home, farmland, gold and the cattle to meet medical expenses. In one letter to the government she even said that she would prefer to commit suicide, which is illegal in India, rather than live in continuous pain. But as she despaired of funding her treatment, Mukherjee decided to apply to appear on “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and which was featured in the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”.
After being chosen as a contestant, she went on to win 2.5 million rupees ($45,000) last month after successfully answering 10 questions. The money will be used to fund a round of plastic surgery next year for Mukherjee, who keeps a portrait of herself as a fresh-faced teenaged cadet. She said that letters appealing for help had failed to yield results but the sight of her injuries had a much more profound impact. “Once everything else had failed, I decided to use my face.” Mukherjee says that her winnings may be welcome but they still will not be enough to cover all her medical bills. “I won some money but I need much more for my treatment,” she said. Her determination not to be a victim has inspired viewers and members of the audience were in tears when she won the contest. The host of the show, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, called her “the epitome of courage” for “continuing her fight against all the odds”. “Sometimes we think that our lives are miserable, everything is against us and then (when) we come across someone like Sonali we realise how lucky we are and how much we have got going for us,” he said on the show. Mukherjee wants to use her high profile to campaign for fellow victims to push for specific legislation on acid attacks, which are currently covered by domestic violence laws that carry relatively light sentences. In 2011, neighbouring Pakistan adopted legislation increasing the punishment to between 14 years and life for acid attacks and a minimum fine of one million Pakistan rupees ($10,200). “The men who threw acid on me are roaming in the open but if there were stricter punishments then they would be behind bars,” Mukherjee said. Indian lawyer Aparna Bhatt, who has fought a legal battle in the Supreme Court for another acid victim, has filed a public petition seeking free medical treatment for acid victims and to regulate the sale of acid. “India needs a new law to define acid crime in a far more comprehensive manner. There should be free medical care, rehabilitation for the victims,”said Bhatt. “Acid is a dangerous weapon.”
primed physique – and his puckish cheekiness – is there really a competition here?…I didn’t think so either. Dilip Shukla’s screenplay flips the bible of sequel-writing away as it concentrates on prioritising. First served are Chulbul’s relations, then the waggishness and finally the mandatory clobbering. Mr. Shukla’s sequencing gets results. It is breezily wholesome, even when it’s everything we’ve seen before. Even the songs by duo SajidWajid, which include the Kareena Kapoor semishow stealer “Fevicol” (though nowhere near “Munni’s” level), happen somewhere in-between without hindrance; as do the rest of the film’s many product placements.
Taylor Swift keeps Bruno Mars out of Billboard 200 top spot
Country pop star Taylor Swift held her reign at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart, keeping retroinspired R&B singer Bruno Mars’ new album at bay. Swift’s latest album, “Red,” released in October, held the No. 1 slot for a fifth non-consecutive week with sales of 208,000, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan. Mars’ second album, “Unorthodox Jukebox,” sold 192,000 copies in its opening week to take the No. 2 slot. The album’s lead single, “Locked Out of Heaven,” stayed at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a second week, and is the singer’s fourth chart-topping single. It also tops the Digital Songs chart this week. Hip hop artist The Game entered the chart at No. 6 with his fifth studio album, “Jesus Piece,” selling 86,000 copies. Four festive albums sat in the top ten this week, with Michael Buble’s “Christmas” at No. 3, Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas Baby” at No. 5, Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” at No. 8, and Lady Antebellum’s “On This Winter’s Night” at No. 10.
December 27, 2012
“Fascism becomes an instrument by default to make good art happen” It may not seem the most obvious setting, but a squat building overlooking a slum is home to one of Pakistan’s leading galleries, which for 30 years has defied dictatorships and fundamentalists to champion cutting-edge art. Rohtas Gallery was founded in 1981, at the height of military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law, as Pakistan was undergoing a programme of Islamisation that imposed Draconian restrictions on culture and entertainment. With all but the most insipid forms of visual art officially banned as “un-Islamic”, architect Naeem Pasha and a group of friends decided Pakistan’s artists needed a space to express themselves freely. “Abstract art was un-Islamic,” Pasha told AFP. “Calligraphy, landscape without even a crow or a goat or anything living in it, insipid crayon portraits of your gardener that the expatriates would take home and say ‘this is what Pakistanis look like’ – they were allowed. “But we did what we had to do, and we showed nudes, we showed abstracts, we showed everything.” Maintaining the gallery’s commitment to showing progressive art meant a delicate game of cat-and-mouse with Zia’s powerful intelligence agencies – and taking advantage of Cold War rivalries. Diplomats would vie with each other for invitations to exhibition openings at Rohtas’ tiny original venue. “The American ambassador would make sure he came before the Soviet ambassador and the Soviet ambassador would try to beat him to it because they wanted to show they supported art,” Pasha explained. “Zia-ul-Haq always gave you the impression he was very magnanimous and non-interfering – at least that’s the impression he wanted to give to
the diplomats, so they didn’t touch us.” But the secret police came calling after a picture appeared in a newspaper of the Soviet am-
Berlin’s Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle. Pasha said the censorship of the Zia-era acted as an inspiration to artists.
bassador at an exhibition next to the drawing of a tailor’s dummy wearing a general’s uniform with a snake coming out of the sleeve. After a tip-off from a friend in the InterServices Intelligence agency, Pasha rushed to the gallery to take down the pictures – which the newspaper article said had all been sold. “Sure enough by 11, 12, o’clock these people came and they said ‘where are these pictures?’” said Pasha. “So I said ‘Well, you saw it in the newspapers, they’re sold, they’re gone.’ Usually if somebody buys the picture will stay on the wall for a month.” Rohtas helped launch the careers of many of the biggest names in modern Pakistani art, including Quddus Mirza, Rashid Rana and Irfan Qureshi, who has been named artist of 2013 by
“Fascism becomes an instrument by default to make good art happen,” he said. “It is against that repression that the artist woke up and today what you see in Pakistani art – the breeding ground was in that 1980s martial law.” Mirza, who curated a show celebrating Rohtas’ 30th birthay in October, said the gallery had encouraged artists to follow their creative impulses free not only from political restrictions, but also commercial pressures. “Installation or sculpture or digital prints at one time were not sold. When you have that kind of show, it’s not going to be beneficial commercially but Rohtas supported it,” he said. “I think that role was important – it supported young artists and artists who were not given the chance anywhere else.
Egypt awaits referendum result CAIRO - Egypt on Monday was awaiting official results of a referendum on a new constitution reportedly backed by two-thirds of voters but which the opposition alleged was riddled with fraud. No official date has been fixed for the final polling figures, a member of the electoral commission, Mohamed el-Tanobly, told AFP. “We are examining the complaints and we will tally the results,” he said, adding that all the alleged irregularities would be studied, so that the referendum “really reflects the will of the Egyptian people.” President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and state media say an unofficial tally
shows 64 percent of ballots backed the new charter after a staggered referendum held December 15 and 22. If confirmed, the text would be adopted and new legislative elections would have to be called within two months. But the National Salvation Front opposition coalition claimed numerous instances of polling “fraud and violations” and is demanding the electoral commission investigate before issuing its official figures. “The referendum is not the end of the road. It is only one battle,” the Front said. “We will continue the fight for the Egyptian people.” The challenge suggested no quick end to Egypt’s political crisis, which erupted a month ago when Morsi allocated himself near-absolute powers to push through the charter written up by an Islamist-dominated panel. Fierce protests ensued, including violent clashes on December 5 that killed eight people and wounded hundreds, eventually leading Morsi to give up those powers while defiantly maintaining the referendum. As a consequence, Egypt is now a deeply polarised nation. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, testing newfound power after decades of being sidelined by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, are spearheading changes to infuse the country with a more Islamist character. They say the new constitution will usher in stability. Against them are ranged the largely urban, liberal, leftwing, Christian and secular supporters of the opposition who feel alienated by Morsi. They see ambiguities inserted in the charter as opening the way to future sharia-style strict Is-
lamic law. “I’m convinced this constitution will have negative repercussions on us and on all the country,” said Marlene, a 35-year-old saleswoman in the city of Minya, in a poor rural area on the Nile south of Cairo with a big Christian minority. She said she did not bother to vote “because of polling fraud” in the December 15 first round of the referendum. Merzek, a 29-year-old health ministry employee who also declined to give his last name, said the Islamists “say they want to apply sharia even on Christians. If that happens, we can’t say no, but I will stay in my country because, if we go, Egypt is finished.” His wife, Mariane, 25, added: “If they try to force the (Islamic) headscarf on us, I will certainly not wear it.” Egypt’s turmoil has deepened uncertainty generated by Mubarak’s overthrow, and created international unease. A $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund was put on hold this month, adding pressure on Egypt’s central bank, whose foreign reserves have more than halved since Mubarak’s ouster to less than $15 billion. Germany is echoing the call for an investigation into the alleged voting fraud, saying the new constitution can only be seen as valid “if the process of its adoption is beyond reproach.” The United States, which provides Egypt’s powerful military with $1.3 billion in aid per year, has kept mostly quiet on the turmoil buffeting its key Middle East ally. But the Republican chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, called the vote “a defeat for the Egyptian people” at the hands of “an Islamic dictatorship.” Only Iran, which is trying to claim the ongoing Arab Spring was inspired by its own 1979 Islamic revolution, welcomed the referendum. It said it promoted “progressive, Islamic and revolutionary goals” in Egypt.
“If there’s no place to show you amend, you censor, you clip your vision. In that way it was very important.” Demand for contemporary art among collectors in Pakistan is growing, particularly among the young, Pasha says, but shows sell 25 per cent of the exhibits at most. His architecture practice supports the gallery financially and Pasha said he was proud to have been able to maintain its commitment to progressive art without watering it down with more commercially friendly pieces. “We knew the type of art that we wanted to show, which is not economically viable, if our architecture practice doesn’t subsidise it, it will not last,” he said. “So it’s more madness, indulgence, a commitment that this is something that one must do. That’s how we survived and we still do. “If we were going to be commercial maybe we would have changed direction and not shown art of this calibre, mixed it with folk and trinkets and all this.” The overt oppression of Zia’s rule has long gone, but Pakistan remains a deeply conservative country where religious extremists seek to impose limits on culture. Pasha says the fundamentalist religious movements are now inspiring artists. “Now we have got another fuel to make art which is the ‘fundo’ label and the ‘terror’ label,” he said. “A lot of work you see is coming out and in one kind or another it represents that.” Qadir Jhatial, 26, whose debut exhibition opened recently at Rohtas, said a show at the venerable gallery was something to which all young artists aspired. “Rohtas is really supporting young talent,” he told AFP. “In Pakistan definitely I will get good exposure, people will get to know my work.”
Two firefighters shot dead in NY NEW YORK - Two firefighters were shot dead and two others were wounded in New York state on Monday when at least one gunman opened fire as the emergency personnel responded to a blaze, local media reported. The incident - which comes as debate rages in the United States about gun control following the Newtown school massacre - happened in Webster, a suburb of Rochester, the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper reported, citing officials. Webster police chief Gerald Pickering said shots were fired at the firefighters after they arrived at the scene of the early morning blaze. The two wounded firefighters were listed in guarded condition at a local hospital.
Drone kills six Yemeni Qaeda militants
SANAA - At least six militants were killed on Monday in what security and local officials said was a US drone strike on a suspected position of al Qaedalinked insurgents in southern Yemen. Washington has escalated its use of drones to kill suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen, where the group exploited anti-government protests last year to seize swathes of territory in the south of the country before being driven out by a military offensive in June. The officials said the drone hit a vehicle in a town in southern al-Bayda province, killing at least six suspected militants. One of those killed in the attack was a Jordanian citizen, a local official and a resident said.
December 27, 2012
SPORT NEW DELHI: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting once said that he would probably be batting in a wheelchair if he survived in world cricket as long as Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar spent 23 years at the crease in the one-day game before retiring from 50 over cricket on Sunday with a record unlikely to be matched. The 39-year-old amassed a record 18,426 runs in 463 one-dayers with 49 centuries. South African Jacques Kallis is his nearest active contemporary with 11,498 runs and 17 hundreds. “I think he is an amazing player,” Ponting once said. “You look at his records, and they are quite incredible. And to think that someone can stay in the game for 20 years is pretty remarkable as well.” Feared and respected by opponents, Tendulkar changed the definition of Indian batting, shrewdly combining orthodox and unorthodox shots to dominate any attack on any surface at home or abroad. He brought not only flair and flamboyance, but also aggression to Indian batting, doing away with the days of the defensive approach with his attractive stroke-making against both pace and spin. Legendary India opener Sunil Gavaskar, the first batsman to complete 10,000 Test runs, said he
Tendulkar, a record-setting batting ‘god’
was convinced Tendulkar would achieve greatness when he first saw him bat in the nets more than two decades ago.
by his fans, but humility remained his prime virtue. If there was any arrogance, it was only in his batting because he loved to dominate bowling
“It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little champion does. There is not a single shot he cannot play,” he said. Tendulkar shattered batting records, earned millions of dollars and was revered as a demi-god
with exciting and aggressive strokeplay, always putting the team’s interests first in a glorious career. As he helped India rise steadily in both Test and one-day cricket, his refrain was often that “I never play for records” or that “individual delight fades before a team’s celebration”.
“The way he conducts himself and handles fame and everything that goes with being Sachin is a great example for all sportsmen,” Australian leg-spin great Shane Warne wrote in his book “Shane Warne’s century”. “On the field, he has never put himself before the team.” Technically sound, temperamentally unflappable, quick to adapt to different conditions and a shrewd judge of line and length, Tendulkar came very close to batting perfection. Tendulkar earned the sobriquet of “Master Blaster” for the audacious batting in the first decade of his career before becoming more selective in his shot-making following injuries to his elbow, back and ankle. Such was his stature that his failures were as hotly debated as his successes and when he missed a match due to an injury his medical bulletins became a national obsession. Australia’s Don Bradman, widely considered the greatest Test batsman of all time, once said Tendulkar’s style of batting reminded him of his own, which was based on dominating and demoralising the opposition. That Tendulkar will still be available for India in Test cricket will come as a relief for team-mates and fans alike despite his lean streak in recent months.
Cricket tackles for popularity in football-mad Nigeria India down Pakistan to reach Doha final LAGOS: Near the parade ground that Queen Elizabeth II once toured when Nigeria was still under British rule, the sharp crack of a ball against a bat marks the rebirth of a colonial sport now finding a second life. Cricket, once the preserve of Nigeria’s educated elite, is finding favor in schools for poor children and in the streets of some of the nation’s most violence-torn cities. “We want cricket to reach across the country,” said Nigeria cricket federation president Kwesi Sagoe, whose father and grandfather both played on Nigeria’s national cricket teams. “We need to get the kids right from birth to accept the culture of cricket. … We want to get
to the point where a kid is born and, at (age) two or three, they’re already thinking about playing cricket, so it’s as popular as football.” Football remains unchallenged as Nigeria’s favourite game. Drivers show off license plate frames or stickers from their favourite English Premier League clubs in snarling Lagos traffic; Nigerian names dot rosters in top-flight European teams. Football, which can be reduced to just a ball and some space, is also more accessible, as pieces of rubbish often demarcate goal post areas in pickup games. Yet cricket has a long history in the country. British colonialists introduced the game to boarders in Nigeria’s top secondary schools in the 19th century. Nigeria played its first recorded international game in 1904 against present-day Ghana, local cricket officials say. A lack of cash to buy equipment, however, fettered cricket’s appeal over the years, leaving most Nigerians today puzzled by the bat-and-ball game. That is changing as cricket federation officials like coach Joseph Oche Onoja adapt the game on the cheap to Nigeria’s realities. Fielders at his matches don’t wear kits and batsmen don’t don helmets. They use an $8version of the professional bats that can cost between $250 and $400. Instead of a hard leather
ball, his players make do with tennis balls. And players accept that the pitch’s bumps may divert the ball from its intended target. In Nigeria’s north, street hawkers see Onoja and shout in the local Hausa language, asking if they can play, too. “I tell them to drop their oranges or whatever they’re selling and join the game,” Onoja said. He’s even worked to win over new cricket fans in places such as Borno state, which faces near-daily attacks by the radical sect, Boko Haram. The violence has prevented the federation from organizing games there in recent months, but it continues to donate free gear to those determined to keep playing. Only a sliver of the cricket federation’s budget comes from the government; about half comes from the Intern a t i o n a l Cricket Council and the rest comes from income-generating initiatives such as renting the pitch for social events that will not damage their prized field. The efforts to develop cricket are bringing results. In 2002, Nigeria graduated from being an affiliate member to an associate member of the International Cricket Council, bringing it one step closer to the league of such cricket powerhouses as South Africa, India, Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies. In 2008, Nigeria was ranked for the first time among cricket-playing nations, in 39th place. It is now ranked 37th out of 106 cricket-playing countries and fifth in Africa, the International Cricket Council’s website says. The federation also formed its first national women cricket team last year. Coach Onoja proudly shows anyone who asks pictures of hijabwearing women playing cricket in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north. More than an alternative sport, the game also serves as one more avenue to escape hardship in a country of more than 160 million people with few opportunities for its youth. He also plays for Britain’s MildenHall Cricket Club during the seven-month season. Akolade offers this advice to young players: “Give it a try. … Imagine if years back I hadn’t given cricket a try; what would I be doing today?”
DOHA: Defending champions India edged Pakistan 2-1 in a thrilling Asian Champions Trophy clash at the Al Rayyan Hockey Stadium on Monday. With the win, India made it four wins out of four to go top with 12 points and qualify for the final while Pakistan are second, level on seven points with Malaysia who suffered a shock 2-1 loss at the hands of China on Monday. Rupinder Pal Singh opened the scoring in the 36th minute and India doubled their lead in the 51st as Pakistan struggled to establish a foothold in the game. They did reduce the deficit in the dying
minutes through a penalty corner but it was too little too late for Akhtar Rasool’s men. Pakistan face Japan in their final match on Wednesday with their hopes of reaching the final also depending on the outcome of the match between India and Malaysia on the same day. Pakistan have a better goal difference over Malaysia but Japan are on a high after crushing Oman 7-1 on Monday. Earlier on Sunday, Pakistan mounted a spirited fightback to come from 2-1 down to hold Malaysia 3-3 in an entertaining match while a dominant India humiliated minnows Oman 11-0 and China defeated Japan 4-2.