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Independence Day TUNISIA - M a r 2 0

Tunisia officially the Tunisian Republic (Arabic: ‫ةيسنوتلا ةيروهمجلا‬‎ alJumhūriyyah at-Tūnisiyyah), is the northernmost country in Africa. It is an Arab Maghrebcountry and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area is almost 165,000 square kilometres (64,000 sq mi), with an estimated population of just over 10.4 million. Its name is derived from the capital Tunis located in the northeast. Tunisia is the smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range. The south of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) of coastline. Tunisia has relations with both the European Union—with whom it has an association agreement—and the Arab world. Tunisia is also a member of the Arab Maghreb Union, the Arab League, and the African Union. Tunisia has established close relations with France in particular, through economic cooperation, industrial modernization, and privatisation programs.

Etymology

The word Tunisia is derived from Tunis; a city and capital of modern-day Tunisia. The present form of the name, with its Latinate suffix -ia, evolved from French Tunisie. The French derivative Tunisie was adopted in some European languages with slight modifications, introducing a distinctive name to designate the country. Other languages remained untouched, such as the Russian Туни́с (Tunís) and Spanish Túnez. In this case, the same name is used for both country and city, as with the Arabic ‫سنوت‬, and only by context can one tell the difference. The name Tunis can be attributed to different origins. It can be associated with the Phoenician goddess Tanith (aka Tunit), ancient city ofTynes or to the Berber root ens which means "to lie down".

History The Atlas mountains and the Sahara desert

both played a prominent role in ancient times, first with the famous Punic city of Carthage, then as the Roman province of Africa, which was known as the "bread basket" of Rome. Later, Tunisia was occupied by Vandals during the 5th century AD, Byzantines in the 6th century, and Arabs in the 8th century. Under the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia was known as "Regency of Tunis". It passed under French protectorate in 1881. After obtaining independence in 1956 the country took the official name of the "Kingdom of Tunisia" at the end of the reign of Lamine Bey and the Husainid Dynasty. With the proclamation of the Tunisian Republic on July 25, 1957, the nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba became its first president. Roman amphitheater in El Djem The country was led by the authoritarian government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 to 2011 before he fled during the Tunisian revolution. Tunisia now finds itself as an export-oriented country in the process of liberalizing and privatizing an economy that, while averaging 5% GDP growth since the early 1990s, has suffered from corruption benefiting politically connected elites.

Antiquity:

Farming methods reached the Nile Valley from the Fertile Crescent region about 5000 BC, and spread to the Maghreb by about 4000 BC. Agricultural communities in the humid coastal plains of central Tunisia then were ancestors of today's Berber tribes.

Numidians:

It was believed in ancient times that Africa was originally populated by Gaetulians and Libyans, both nomadic peoples. The demigod Hercules died in Spain and his polyglot eastern army was left to settle the land, with some migrating to Africa. Persians went to the West and inter married with the Gaetulians and became the Numidians. The Medes settled and were known as Mauri latter Moors. Sallust's version of African history must be considered with reservations. The Numidians and Moors belonged to the race from which the Berbers are descended. The translated meaning of Numidian is Nomad and indeed the people were semi-nomadic until the reign of Masinissa of the Massyli tribe.

Phoenician colonies and Punic era:

At the beginning of recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled byPhoenicians starting as early as the 10th century BC. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century BC by Phoenician and Cypriot settlers. Legend says that Dido from Tyre, now in modern day Lebanon founded the city in 814 BC, as retold by the Greek writer Timaeus of Tauromenium. The settlers of Carthage brought their culture and religion from the Phoenicians. After a series of wars with Greek city-states of Sicily in the 5th century BC, Carthage rose to power and eventually became the dominant civilization in the Western Mediterranean. The people of Carthage worshipped a pantheon of Middle Eastern gods including Baal and Tanit. Tanit's symbol, a simple female figure with extended arms and long dress, is a popular icon found in ancient sites. The founders of Carthage also established a Tophet, which was altered in Roman times. A Carthaginian invasion of Italy led by Hannibal during the Second Punic War, one of a series of wars withRome, nearly crippled the rise of Roman power. From the conclusion of the Second Punic War in 202 BC, Carthage functioned as a client state of the Roman Republic for another 50 years.

Roman era:

Following the Battle of Carthage in 149 BC, Carthage was conquered by Rome. After the Roman conquest, the region became one of the main granaries of Rome and was fully Latinized. The Romans controlled nearly all of modern Tunisia from 149 BC until the area was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century AD, only to be reconquered by Roman general Belisarius in the 6th century, during the rule of Emperor Justinian I. During the Roman period the area of what is now Tunisia enjoyed a huge development. The economy, mainly during the Empire, boomed: the prosperity of the area depended on agriculture. Called the Granary of the Empire, the area of actual Tunisia and coastal Tripolitania, according to one estimate, produced one million tons of cereals each year, onequarter of which was exported to the Empire. Additional crops included beans, figs, grapes, and other fruits. By the 2nd century, olive oil rivalled cereals as an export item. In addition to the cultivations, and the capture and transporting of exotic wild animals The Great Mosque of Al-Zayfrom the western mountains, the principal production and exports in- tuna cluded the textiles, marble, wine, timber, livestock, pottery such as African Red Slip, and wool. There was even a huge production of mosaics and ceramics, exported mainly to Italy, in the central area of El Djem (where there was the second biggest amphitheater in the Roman Empire). During the 5th and 6th Centuries (from 430 to 533 AD), the Germanic Vandals invaded and ruled over a kingdom in North Africa that included present-day Tripoli. They were defeated by a combined force of Romans and Berbers.

Middle Ages:

Around the second half of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, the region was conquered by ArabMuslims, who founded the city of Kairouan, which became the first city of Islam in North Africa. In this period, the Great Mosque of Kairouan (also called the Mosque of Uqba) was erected in 670 AD. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is considered the oldest and most prestigious sanctuary in the western Islamic world as well as a great masterpiece of Islamic art and architecture. Tunisia flourished under Arab rule as extensive irrigation installations were constructed to supply towns with water and promote agriculture (especially olive production). This prosperity permitted luxurious court life and was marked by the construction of new Palace cities such as al-Abassiya (809) and Raqadda (877). Successive Muslim dynasties ruled Tunisia (Ifriqiya at the time) with occasional instabilities caused mainly by Berber rebellions; of these reigns we can cite the Aghlabids(800–900) and Fatimids (909–972). After conquering Cairo, Fatimids abandoned North Africa to the local Zirids (Tunisia and parts of Eastern Algera, 972–1148) and Hammadid (Central and eastern Algeria, 1015–1152). North Africa was submerged by their quarrels; political instability was connected to the decline of Tunisian trade and agriculture. In addition, the invasion of Tunisia by Banu Hilal, a warlike Arab Bedouin tribe encouraged by the Fatimids of Egypt to seize North Africa, sent the region's urban and economic life into further decline.The Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert. The coasts were held briefly by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th century, but following the Arab reconquest the last Christians in Tunisia disappeared either through forced conversion or emigration. In 1159–1160, Tunisia was conquered by the Almohad caliphs. They were succeeded by the Berber Hafsids (c.1230–1574), under whom Tunisia prospered. During the reign of the Hafsid dynasty, fruitful commercial relationships were established with several Christian Mediterranean states. In the late 16th century the coast became a pirate stronghold (see: Barbary States).

Ottoman rule:

In the last years of the Hafsids, Spain seized many of the coastal cities, but these were recovered by the Ottoman Empire. Under its Turkishgovernors, the Beys, Tunisia attained virtual independence. The Hussein dynasty of Beys, established in 1705, lasted until 1957. The Maghreb suffered from the deadly combination of plague and famine. The great epidemics ravaged Tunisia in 1784–1785, 1796–1797 and 1818–1820.

French era:

In 1869, Tunisia declared itself bankrupt and an international financial commission took control over its economy. In 1881, using the pretext of a Tunisian incursion into Algeria, the French invaded with an army of about 36,000 and forced the Bey to agree to the terms of the 1881 Treaty of Bardo (Al Qasr as Sa'id). Bab Souika in Tunis c. 1899 With this treaty, Tunisia was officially made a French protectorate, over the objections of Italy. Under French colonization, European settlements in the country were actively encouraged; the number of French colonists grew from 34,000 in 1906 to 144,000 in 1945. In 1910 there were 105,000 Italians in Tunisia.

World War II:

In 1942–1943, Tunisia was the scene of the third major operations by the Allied Forces (the British Empire and the United States) against the Axis Powers (Italy and Germany) during World War II. The main body of the British army, advancing from their victory in the Battle of el-Alamein under the command of British Field Marshal Montgomery, pushed into Tunisia from the south. The U.S. and other allies, following their invasions of Algeria and Morocco in Operation Torch, invaded from the west. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Axis forces in North Africa, had hoped to inflict a similar defeat on the Allies in Tunisia as German forces did in the Battle of France in 1940. Before the battle for el-Alamein, the Allied forces had been forced to retreat toward Egypt. As such, the battle for Tunisia was a major test for the Allies. They concluded that in order to defeat Axis Powers they would have to coordinate their actions and quickly recover from the inevitable setbacks the German-Italian forces would inflict. On February 19, 1943, Rommel launched an attack on the American forces in the Kasserine Passregion of Western Tunisia, hoping to inflict the kind of demoralizing and alliance-shattering defeat the Germans had dealt to Poland, Britain and France. The initial results were a disaster for the United States; the area around the Kasserine Pass is the site of many U.S. war graves from that time. However, the American forces were ultimately able to reverse their retreat. With a critical strategy in tank warfare, and having determined that encirclement was feasible, the British, Australian and New Zealand forces broke through the Mareth Line on March 20, 1943. The Allies subsequently linked up on April 8, and on May 12, the German-Italian Army in Tunisia surrendered. Thus, the United States, United Kingdom, Australian, Free French, and Polish forces (as well as others) were able to win a major battle as an Allied army. The battle, though overshadowed by Stalingrad, represented a major Allied victory of World War II largely because it forged the Alliance that would one day liberate Western Europe.

Independence:

Tunisia achieved independence from France in 1956 led by Habib Bourguiba, who later became the first Tunisian President. In November 1987, doctors declared Bourguiba unfit to rule and, in a bloodless coup d'état, Prime Minister Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumed the presidency. He and his family subsequently were accused of corruption and plundering the country's money and fled into exile in 2011.

2010–2011 Tunisian revolution:

The Tunisian revolution is an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia. The events began when Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year old Tunisian street vendor, set himself afire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the humiliation that was inflicted on him by a municipal official. This act became the catalyst for mass demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country. Anger and violence intensified following Bouazizi's death on 4 January 2011, ultimately leading longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on 14 January 2011, after 23 years in power. Street demonstrations and other unrest have continued to the present day. International Tunisian organizations, like the Tunisian Community Center The first Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba paying in the US, has supported the protesters' aims tribute to Tunisian national flag. toward democracy as well, in addition to TCC's efforts to freeze Ben Ali's assets abroad. The demonstrations were precipitated by high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, a lack of freedom of speech and other political freedoms and poor living conditions. The protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades and have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces against demonstrators. Labour unions were said to be an integral part of the protests. The protests inspired similar actions throughout the Arab world; the Egyptian revolution began after the events in Tunisia and also led to the ousting of Egypt's longtime president Hosni Mubarak; furthermore, protests have also taken place in Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Mauritania, Pakistan and also Libya – where a civil war broke out – as well as elsewhere in the wider North Africa and Middle East.

Anniversary of the death of President Said Mohamed Cheikh COMOROS - M a r 1 8

Said Mohamed Cheikh (1904–16 March 1970 in Mitsamiouli, Comoros) was the head of the Government of Comoros from 1962 until his death in 1970.Cheikh served in the French National Assembly from 19461962 and He was also the president of the Parti Vert and of the Governing Council.

Biography

Cheikh was born in 1904 but he completed his education in Madagascar qualifying in 1926 in medicine. When he returned to the Comoros islands he was the first doctor. He worked as a doctor until the end of the second world war in 1945. In 1954, he was the diplomatic representative at United Nations General Assembly on behalf of France. Dr. Said Mohamed Cheikh was considered to be, in the period leading up to independence, the most important political leader in the islands. Cheikh was elected to be the first president of the Governing Council of the Comoros Chamber of Deputies in 1961, a post he held until he died of a heart attack in 1970 in the capital of Madagascar (Antananarivo). Cheikh was buried in Moroni in the Comoros.

Legacy In 1978, the government issued high value gold coins

worth 10,000 and 20,000 francs which bore the likeness of Cheikh. Postage stamps bearing his likeness were issued in 1973.

National Flag & Anthem Day ARUBA - M a r 1 8

March 18th is the official holiday on which we celebrate the existence of our National Anthem “Aruba Dushi Tera” and our blue, yellow, red and white National Flag. This year we are celebrating the 36th anniversary. Driving around on the main roads especially from the hotels to Santa Cruz one finds open stands at or next to the houses displaying printed t-shirts, bandana, banners, and caps with Aruban flag theme available for purchase. Preparations already started for the Annual Song Festival "Un Canto pa Aruba su Himno y Bandera" where local talents; kids and adults can romance the flag with their compositions with their muse wholly infused with love for the island Aruba. This year the festival will be taking place at the Community Center in Tanki Leendert for 3 days in a row. Each year brings forward brand new talents which is very positive. The 3 days will take on the weekend before the Flag and Anthem day. The grand final, which judges will be selecting a winner takes place on Sunday. During the festival all sorts of attractions come the fore including stands selling local crafts, stands with yummy Aruban snacks and sweets, stands with typical Aruban food, and for the little ones there will be a special recreational corner with entertainment for them to enjoy. The stands will open at 6:00 pm and the festival will start at 7:30 pm right after the official hoisting of the Aruban flag to the tune of the national anthem played and sung and a special homage will be dedicated to 3 people this time, Mr.Rincones, Dhaddy Brokke and Steve Geerman who are all wellknown locally in the musical sphere. The best part of all - entrance fee is just a smile! On March 18th there is a lot to do throughout the island. Besides the official celebrations, many community centers and sports clubs host events that are open to the public. These take place outdoors and are usually at no charge. The programs feature competitions and games for visitors, sports tournaments, lively folkloric dance performances and music presentations. Bolas Criollas is a popular sport tournament among locals and it is not missed on this special day. This is a traditional team sport coming from Venezuela, and very popular here during national holidays. Due to constant immigration from Venezuelans to Aruba in the early years this sport has been adopted and modified a little over the years. Its origins can be traced back to traditional European sports, such as Boccia and Pétanque. Another very well-received tradition on this day is the event with competitions and games called “Spel zonder grenzen” (a Dutch word meaning “games without boundaries”) which are a staple part of the repertoire during national holidays and also the famous fair which is very well-liked by children. The "games without boundaries" will feature pillow fights, climbing a waxed pole, sack races and lots more. Centro di Bario Brazil this year is organizing a fun family event "Hari y Ser Hari" (Laugh and Be Laughed at) which includes games like Parcheesi, mental gymnastics, mimics, and dance competitions. This is a 2 day event that will start on the eve of the Aruban Flag and Anthem Day. Everyone is welcome, great assortment of food and drinks available. In Oranjestad, Plaza Betico Croes serves as center stage for the traditional folkloric celebration with musical presentations by the winners of the song festival. Traditional food and goodies will also be available. It is fun to just get in a car and drive around visiting these places to celebrate this special day with us. You might even be able to admire the “Baile di Cinta” (Ribbon Dance). This dance participation is for male and female dancers alike sporting their patriotic colored costumes. They dance around a pole weaving or braiding ribbons in the colors of the national flag which are attached to the top of the pole. They dance to the music of the Caha di Orgel, to the beat of the Waltz, Danza, Tumba or Mazurka. How the dance is performed is very simple yet requires skill and timing. The end of the ribbon is fastened at the top of the pole and the other end is held by the dancers. During the dance the dancers swing around the pole braiding the ribbons. The ribbons will cover the pole over a certain length in beautiful colors and pattern and when the ribbons are getting too short to dance with; the dancers will turn around and dance in reverse order. The Historical Museum at the Willem III tower in town will have a full day event featuring Aruban traditions and culture, with stands full of goodies, arts and crafts. A not to be missed on March 18th is the sound and enthusiasm of Harley Davidson Motorcycles and Classic Cars clubs year after year they parade through the streets of Aruba waving the Aruba flag until sun sets. The food and treats presented at the various sites include Keri Keri (minced shark), Pisca Tempera (pickled fish) Cabrito stoba (Kid stew), Sanger Yena, Cocada (a sweet treat made of sugar and coconut) and sweet bread like drigidek, panlefi, mancaron and much more. Though attendance is high everywhere, activities and happenings are never uncomfortably crowded. The patriotism shown is healthy and proud. Flag Day is a time of celebration and fun for all.

Battle of March - M a r 1 9 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The Battle of Azua (Battle of March 19), was the first major battle of the Dominican War of Independence and was fought on March 19, 1844, at Azua de Compostela,Azua Province. A force of some 2,200 Dominican troops, a portion of the Army of The South, led by Pedro General Santana, defeated an outnumbering force of 10,000 troops of the Haitian Army led by SoufGeneral frand.

Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Worldwide - M a r 2 1

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration inSharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws. Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Nowruz Worldwide - M a r 2 1

Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the "Persian New Year". Nowruz is celebrated and observed by Iranian peoples and the related cultural continent and has spread in many other parts of the world, including parts of Central Asia, Caucasus, South Asia,Northwestern China, the Crimea and some groups in the Balkans. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. As well as being a Zoroastrianholiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians, the same time is celebrated in parts of the South Asian sub-continent as the new year. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals. Originally being a Zoroastrian festival, and the holiest of them all, Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since theAchaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. The Jewish festival of Purim is probably adopted from the Persian New Year. It is also a holy day for Sufis, Ismailis, Alawites, Alevis, and adherents of the Bahá'í Faith. The term Nowruz in writing, first appeared in Persian records in the 2nd century AD, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids c. 548–330 BC), where kings from different nations under the Persian empire used to bring gifts to the Emperor, also called King of Kings (Shahanshah), of Persia on Nowruz. The significance of Nowruz in the Achaemenid empire was such that the great Persian king Cambyses II's appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the New Year festival (Nowruz). The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowruz, describing it a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. During the meeting of The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations, held between 28 September – 2 October 2009 in Abu Dhabi, Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Etymology

now (Old Persian nava) means "new" and has the following cognates, in English new, in Latin • novus, German neu, Sanskrit nava, etc. The Persian pronunciation differs in the many dialects of the language: while the eastern dialects have preserved the original diphthong, the western dialects usually pronounce it with a different diphthong, and some colloquial variants (such as the Tehrani accent) pronounce it with a monophtong. rōz (also with various pronuciations, such as rūz,rose.rooz rozh, or roj) means "day" in Mid• dle- and Modern Persian. The original meaning of the word, however, was "light". The term is derived from Avestan *rowch-, itself derived from Proto-Indo-European *leuk- (l <-> r and k <-> ch sound changes are common in Indo-European languages), and is related to Sanskrit ruci, Latin lux, Armenian luys and, in fact, English light.

Nowruz and the spring equinox

The first day on the Iranian calendar falls on the March equinox, the first day of spring. At the time of the equinox, the sun is observed to be directly over the equator, and the north and south poles of the Earth lie along the solar terminator; sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres. In ca. 11 century CE major reforms of Iranian calendars took place and whose principal purpose was to fix the beginning of the calendar year, i.e. Nowrūz, at the vernal equinox. Accordingly, the definition of Nowruz given by the Iranian scientist Ṭūsī was the following: "the first day of the official new year [Nowruz] was always the day on which the sun entered Aries before noon".

Pakistan Day PAKISTAN - M a r 2 3

Pakistan Day (Urdu: ‫ناتسکاپ موی‬, lit. Youm-e-Pakistan) or Republic Day is a national holiday inPakistan to commemorate the Lahore Resolution of 1940 and the adoption of the firstconstitution of Pakistan during the transition of the Dominion of Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on 23 March 1956 making Pakistan the world's first Islamic republic.

History Pakistan had obtained its independence from the British Raj the 14th

of August 1947. 23 March was originally supposed to commemorate the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan and thus the declaration of Pakistan as a republic. However, Field Marshal Ayub Khan abrogated the constitution and declared martial law. Khan's regime, in order to justify celebrating the national day, changed it to commemorate the 1940 landmark, during which All-India Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution which later cemented the formation of a new nation in the sub-continent as Pakistan, even though it did not actually mention Pakistan at all. The Muslim League annual conference was held from 22–24 March 1940 and the Lahore Resolution was passed on 23 March.\

Celebrations

The celebrations regarding the holiday include a full military and civilian parade in the capital, Islamabad. These are presided by the President of Pakistan and are held early in the morning. After the parade, the President confers national awards and medals on the awardees at thePresidency. Wreaths are also laid at the mausoleums of Muhammad Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

World Down Syndrome Day Worldwide - M a r 2 1

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on March 21. On this day, Down syndrome organizations throughout the world organize and participate in events to raise public awareness of Down syndrome. Down syndrome was first determined a chromosomal disorder in 1959 by French pediatrician and geneticist, Jérôme Lejeune. One in every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome. In the United states there are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome. The date, being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected by Down Syndrome International (DSI) to signify the uniqueness of Down syndrome in the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome and is used synonymously with Down syndrome. The original idea was proposed by Stylianos E. Antonarakis, a medical geneticist of the University of Geneva Medical School, and enthusiastically adopted by ART21, a patient group for the Lemanic region of Switzerland. The first events were organized on March 21, 2006, in Geneva. The inaugural WDSD was launched on April 21, 2006, in Singapore, with events organized by the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore).

St. Joseph's Day Worldwide - M a r 1 9

History and tradition Tradition and mythology:

The celebration has its roots in Ancient Iran. Due to its antiquity, there exist various foundation myths for Nowruz in Iranian mythology. In the Zoroastrian tradition, the seven most important Zoroastrian festivals are the six Gahambars and Nowruz, which occurs at thespring equinox. According to Mary Boyce, It seems a reasonable surmise that Nowruz, the holiest of them all, with deep doctrinal significance, was founded by Zoroaster himself. Between sunset of the day of the 6th Gahanbar and sunrise of Nowruz was celebrated Hamaspathmaedaya (later known, in its extended form, as Frawardinegan). This and theGahanbar are the only festivals named in the surviving text of the Avesta. The Shahnameh, dates Nowruz as far back to the reign of Jamshid, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a killer winter that was destined to kill every living creature. The mythical Persian King Jamshid (Yima or Yama of the Indo-Iranian lore) perhaps symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history. In the Shahnameh and Iranian mythology, he is credited with the foundation of Nowruz. In the Shahnama, Jamshid constructed a throne studded with gems. He had demons raise him above the earth into the heavens; there he sat on his throne like the sun shining in the sky. The world's creatures gathered in wonder about him and scattered jewels around him, and called this day the New Day or No/Now-Ruz. This was the first day of the month of Farvardin (the first month of the Persian calendar). The Persian scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni of the 10th century AD, in his Persian work "Kitab al-Tafhim li Awa'il Sina'at al-Tanjim" provides a description of the calendar of various nations. Besides the Persian calendar, various festivals of Arabs, Jews, Sabians, Greeks and other nations are mentioned in this book. In the section on the Persian calendar (Persian: ‫نایسراپ میوقت‬‎), he mentions Nowruz, Sadeh, Tiregan,Mehregan, the six Gahanbar, Parvardegaan, Bahmanja, Isfandarmazh and several other festivals. According to him: It is the belief of the Persians that Nowruz marks the first day when the universe started its motion. The Persian historian Abu Saʿīd Gardēzī in his work titled Zayn al-Akhbār under the section of the Zoroastrians festivals mentions Nowruz (among other festivals) and specifically points out thatZoroaster highly emphasized the celebration of Nowruz and Mehregan.

History:

Although it is not clear whether proto-Indo-Iranians celebrated a feast as the first day of the calendar, there are indications that both Iranians and Indians assumed the first day of autumn as the beginning of new year season. There are reasons that Iranians may have observed the beginning both autumn and spring, related to the harvest and the sowing of seeds, respectively, for the year. Boyce and Grenet explain the traditions for seasonal festivals and comment:"It is possible that the splendor of the Babylonian festivities at this season led the Persians to develop their own spring festival into an established new year feast, with the name Navasarda 'New Year' (a name which, though first attested through Middle Persian derivatives, is attributed to the Achaemenian period). Since the communal observations of the ancient Iranians appear in general to have been a seasonal ones, and related to agriculture, it is probable, that they traditionally held festivals in both autumn and spring, to mark the major turning points of the natural year". We have reasons to believe that the celebration is much older than that date and was surely celebrated by the people and royalty during theAchaemenid times (555-330 BC). It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient Iranian peoples. It has been suggested that the famous Persepolis complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and the Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Nowruz. Although, there may be no mention of Nowruz in recorded Achaemenid inscriptions (see picture) There is a detailed account by Xenophon of Nowruz celebration taking place in Persepolis and the continuity of this festival in the Achaemenid tradition.According to Britannica, the Jewish festival of Purim, is probably adopted from the Persian New Year. Nowruz was the holiday of Arsacid/Parthian dynastic Empires who ruled Iran (248 BC-224 AD). There are specific references to the celebration of Nowruz during the reign of Vologases I (51-78 AD), but these include no details. Before Sassanids established their power in West Asia around 300 AD, Parthians celebrated Nowruz in Autumn and 1st of Farvardin began at the Autumn Equinox. During Parthian dynasty the Spring Festival was Mehragan, a Zoroastrian and Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra. Extensive records on the celebration of Nowruz appear following the accession of Ardashir I of Persia, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty(224-651 AD). Under the Sassanid Emperors, Nowruz was celebrated as the most important day of the year. Most royal traditions of Nowruz such as royal audiences with the public, cash gifts, and the pardoning of prisoners, were established during the Sassanian era and persisted unchanged until modern times. Nowruz, along with Sadeh (celebrated in mid-winter), survived in society following the introduction of Islam in 650 AD. Other celebrations suchGahanbar and Mehragan were eventually side-lined or were only followed by the Zoroastrians, who carried them. There are records of the Four Great Caliphs presiding over Nowruz celebrations, and it was adopted as the main royal holiday during the Abbasid period. In his work titled the Nowruznama, Omar Khayyam, a well known Persian poet and Mathematician provides a vivid description of the celebration in the courts of the Kings of Persia: From the era of Kai Khusraw till the days of Yazdegard, last of the pre-Islamic kings of Persia, the royal custom was thus: on the first day of the New Year, Now Ruz, the King's first visitor was the High Mobad of the Zoroastrians, who brought with him as gifts a golden goblet full of wine, a ring, some gold coins, a fistful of green sprigs of wheat, a sword, and a bow. In the language of Persia he would then glorify God and praise the monarch. This was the address of the High Mobad to the king : "O Majesty, on this feast of the Equinox, first day of the first month of the year, seeing that thou hast freely chosen God and the Faith of the Ancient ones; may Surush, the Angel-messenger, grant thee wisdom and insight and sagacity in thy affairs. Live long in praise, be happy and fortunate upon thy golden throne, drink immortality from the Cup of Jamshid; and keep in solemn trust the customs of our ancestors, their noble aspirations, fair gestures and the exercise of justice and righteousness. May thy soul flourish; may thy youth be as the new-grown grain; may thy horse be puissant, victorious; thy sword bright and deadly against foes; thy hawk swift against its prey; thy every act straight as the arrow's shaft. Go forth from thy rich throne, conquer new lands. Honor the craftsman and the sage in equal degree; disdain the acquisition of wealth. May thy house prosper and thy life be long!" Following the demise of the Caliphate and the subsequent re-emergence of Persian dynasties such as the Samanids and Buyids, Nowruz was elevated to an even more important event. The Buyids revived the ancient traditions of Sassanian times and restored many smaller celebrations that had been eliminated by the Caliphate. According to the Syrian historian Yaqut al-Hamawi, the Iranian Buyid ruler ʿAżod-od-Dawla (r. 949-83) customarily welcomed Nowruz in a majestic hall, wherein servants had placed gold and silver plates and vases full of fruit and colorful flowers. The King would sit on the royal throne (masnad), and the court astronomer came forward, kissed the ground, and congratulated him on the arrival of the New Year. The king would then summon musicians and singers, and invited his boon companions. They would gather in their assigned places and enjoy a great festive occasion. Even the Turkic and Mongol invaders did not attempt to abolish Nowruz in favor of any other celebration. Thus, Nowruz remained as the main celebration in the Persian lands by both the officials and the people. Iran (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days in general + total of 13 days for schools and universities) Afghanistan (20 March to 23 March)  Albania (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days)   Azerbaijan (20 March to 26 March, total of 7 days) Azeris in Georgia (country), Georgia  The Parsis in India use a Shahenshahi calendar   Iraq (de jure in Iraqi Kurdistan, de facto national) (21 March) Kazakhstan (21 March to 24 March, total of 4 days)  Kosovo (21 March)   Kyrgyzstan (21 March) Tajikistan (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days)  Turkmenistan (20 March to 23 March, total of 4 days)   Uzbekistan (21 March)

Independence Day NAMIBIA - M a r 2 1

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia (Afrikaans: Republiek van Namibië, German:Republik Namibia), is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community(SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations. The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, andNamaqua, and since about the 14th century AD by immigrating Bantu who came with theBantu expansion. It became a German Imperial protectorate in 1884 and remained a German colony until the end of World War I. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated the country to South Africa, which imposed its laws and, from 1948, its apartheid policy. Uprisings and demands by African leaders led the UN to assume direct responsibility over the territory. It recognized the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia, however, remained under South African administration during this time. Following internal violence, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990, with the exception of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands, which remained under South African control until 1994. Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentarydemocracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals – form the backbone of Namibia's economy. Given the presence of the arid Namib Desert, it is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Approximately half the population live below the international poverty line, and the nation has suffered heavily from the effects of HIV/AIDS, with 15% of the adult population infected with HIV in 2007.

History The name of the country is derived from the Namib Desert, considered to be the oldest desert in the world.

Before its independence in 1990, the area was known first as German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika), then as South-West Africa, reflecting the colonial occupation by the Germans and the South Africans (technically on behalf of the British crown reflecting South Africa's dominion status within the British Empire).

Pre-colonial period:

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Nama, and since about the 14th century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion from central Africa. From the late 18th century onwards, Orlam clans from the Cape Colony crossed the Orange River and moved into the area that today is southern Namibia. Their encounters with the nomadic Nama tribes were largely peaceful. The missionaries accompanying the Orlams were well–received by them, the right to use waterholes and grazing was granted against an annual payment. On their way further northwards, however, the Orlams encountered clans of the Herero tribe at Windhoek, Gobabis, and Okahandja which were less accommodating. The Nama-Herero War broke out in 1880, with hostilities ebbing only when Imperial Germany deployed troops to the contested places and cemented the status quo between Nama, Orlams, and Herero. The first Europeans to disembark and explore the region were the Portuguese navigators Diogo Cão in 1485 and Bartolomeu Dias in 1486; still the region was not claimed by the Portuguese crown. However, like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia was not extensively explored by Europeans until the 19th century, when traders and settlers arrived, principally from Germany and Sweden. In the late 19th centuryDorsland trekkers crossed the area on their way from the Transvaal to Angola. Some of them settled in Namibia instead of continuing their journey, even more returned to South-West African territory after the Portuguese tried to convert them to Catholicism and forbade their language at schools.

German rule:

Namibia became a German colony in 1884 to forestall British encroachment and was known as German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). However, the Palgrave mission by the British governor in Cape Town had determined that only the natural deep-water harbour of Walvis Bay (Walfisch in German, Walvis in Afrikaans, Whale in English) was worth occupying – and this was annexed to the Cape province of British South Africa. From 1904 to 1907, the Herero and the Namaqua took up arms against the Germans and in the subsequentHerero and Namaqua genocide, 10,000 Nama (half the population) and approximately 65,000 Hereros (about 80% of the population) were killed. The survivors, when finally released from detention, were subjected to a policy of dispossession, deportation, forced labor, racial segregation and discrimination in a system that in many ways anticipated apartheid. Most Africans were confined to so-called native territories, which later under South African rule post-1949 were turned into "homelands" (Bantustans). Indeed, some historians have speculated that the German genocide in Namibia was a model used by Nazis in the Holocaust, but most scholars say that episode was not especially influential for the Nazis, who were children at the time. However, the father of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring was a one-time German colonial governor of Namibia and has a street named after him in Swakopmund. The memory of genocide remains relevant to ethnic identity in independent Namibia and to relations with Germany.

South African rule and the struggle for independence:

South Africa occupied the colony in 1915 after defeating the German force during World War I and administered it as a League of Nationsmandate territory from 1919. Although the South African government desired to incorporate 'South-West Africa' into its territory, it never officially did so, although it was administered as the de facto 'fifth province', with the white minority having representation in the whites-only Parliament of South Africa, as well as electing their own local administration the SWA Legislative Assembly. The South African government also appointed the SWA administrator, who had extensive powers. Following the League's supersession by the United Nations in 1946, South Africa refused to surrender its earlier mandate to be replaced by a United Nations Trusteeship agreement, requiring closer international monitoring of the territory's administration (along with a definite independence schedule). The Herero Chief's Council submitted a number of petitions to the UN calling for it to grant Namibia independence during the 1950s. During the 1960s, when European powers granted independence to their colonies and trust territories in Africa, pressure mounted on South Africa to do so in Namibia. In 1966 the International Court of Justice dismissed a complaint brought by Ethiopia and Liberia against South Africa's continued presence in the territory, but the U.N. General Assembly subsequently revoked South Africa's mandate, while in 1971 the International Court of Justice issued an "advisory opinion" declaring South Africa's continued administration to be illegal. In response to the 1966 ruling by the International Court of Justice, South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) military wing,People's Liberation Army of Namibia, a guerrilla group began their armed struggle for independence, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its occupation of Namibia, in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. During the South African occupation of Namibia, white commercial farmers, most of whom came as settlers from South Africa and represented 0.2% of the national population, owned 74% of arable land. Outside the central-southern area of Namibia (known as the "Police Zone" since the German era and which contained the main towns, industries, mines and best arable land), the country was divided into "homelands", the version of South African bantustan applied to Namibia, although only a few were actually established due to non-cooperation by most indigenous Namibians. After many unsuccessful attempts by the UN to persuade South Africa to agree to the implementation of UN Resolution 435, which had been adopted by the UN Security Council in 1978 as the internationally-agreed decolonisation plan for Namibia, transition to independence finally started in 1988 under the tripartite diplomatic agreement between South Africa, Angola and Cuba, with the USSR and the USA as observers, under which South Africa agreed to withdraw and demobilise its forces in Namibia and Cuba agreed to pull back its troops in southern Angola sent to support the MPLA in its war for control of Angola with UNITA. A combined UN civilian and peace-keeping force under Finnish diplomatMartti Ahtisaari supervised the military withdrawals, return of SWAPO exiles and the holding of Namibia's first-ever one-person one-vote election for a constituent assembly in October 1989. This was won by SWAPO although it did not gain the two-thirds majority it had hoped for; the South African-backed Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) became the official opposition. Following the adoption of the Namibian Constitution, including entrenched protection for human rights, compensation for state expropriations of private property, an independent judiciary and an executive presidency (the constituent assembly became the national assembly), the country officially became independent on 21 March 1990. Sam Nujoma was sworn in as the first President of Namibia watched by Nelson Mandela (who had been released from prison shortly beforehand) and representatives from 147 countries, including 20 heads of state.Walvis Bay was ceded to Namibia in 1994 upon the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

After independence:

Since independence Namibia has successfully completed the transition from white minority apartheid rule to parliamentary democracy.Multiparty democracy was introduced and has been maintained, with local, regional and national elections held regularly. Several registered political parties are active and represented in the National Assembly, although Swapo Party has won every election since independence.The transition from the 15-year rule of President Sam Nujoma to his successor, Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2005 went smoothly. Namibian government has promoted a policy of national reconciliation and issued an amnesty for those who had fought on either side during the liberation war. The civil war in Angola had a limited impact on Namibians living in the north of the country. In 1998, Namibia Defence Force(NDF) troops were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) contingent. In August 1999, a secessionist attempt in the northeastern Caprivi region was successfully quashed.

World Day for Water Worldwide - M a r 2 1

World Water Day has been observed on 22 March since 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly declared 22 March as World Day for Water. This day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Observance began in 1993 and has grown significantly ever since; for the general public to show support, it is encouraged for the public to not use their taps throughout the whole day, the day has become a popular Facebook trend. The UN and its member nations devote this day to implementing UN recommendations and promoting concrete activities within their countries regarding the world's water resources. Each year, one of various UN agencies involved in water issues takes the lead in promoting and coordinating international activities for World Water Day. Since its inception in 2003, UN-Water has been responsible for selecting the theme, messages and lead UN agency for the World Day for Water. In addition to the UN member states, a number of NGOs promoting clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats have used World Day for Water as a time to focus public attention on the critical water issues of our era. Every three years since 1997, for instance, the World Water Council has drawn thousands to participate in its World Water Forum during the week of World Day for Water. Participating agencies and NGOs have highlighted issues such as a billion people being without access to safe water for drinking and the role of gender in family access to safe water. In 2003, 2006 and 2009, the UN World Water Development Report was launched on the occasion of the World Water Day. The fourth Report is expected to be released around 22 March 2012.

World Frog Day Worldwide - M a r 2 0

Frog Day: Is an annual event focused on assisting scientific study and captive maintenance of Dendrobatid frogs and other amphibians through the exchange of knowledge, and the promotion of captive breeding and husbandry of these remarkable frogs (and other amphibians).

History In 1995, Charles "Chuck" Powell and his family

created and hosted the very first Frog Day in San Jose, California. Chuck and his family hosted the event for 10 years in a row, and then decided it was time for the event to travel! American Frog Day (AFD) currently moves to a different city each year where it is hosted by a local sponsor. Those ten years in San Jose allowed for the first time people from around the country to gather together and share their passion for Dendrobatid frogs. Many times meeting each other for the first time in person. Buying and selling Dart Frogs and related supplies was not the only reason enthusiasts attended. The event also allowed attendees the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas, practical advise, and to learn more on many aspects of Dendrobatid and amphibian husbandry. Those days spent at the San Jose Frog Days have become special memories for many people. The tradition continued at the 12th American Frog Day (AFD) held in Mesa Arizona in 2006 hosted by Arizona Dendrobate Ranch (www.azdr.com). Some of the leading Dart Frog breeders in America were in attendence and Dr. Kevin Wright presented on Amphibian Nutrition & The importance of treating sick amphibians for chytrid. His presentation was only one of many great ones that contributed to an incredible day. AZDR and all those who supported them and the event did an outstanding job, and deserve many thanks. Today American Frog Day has become an annual tradition that each year many people look forward to. Something that would not be possible if not for Chuck's devotion, motivation and passion for Dart Frogs.

Saint Joseph's Day, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has the rank of asolemnity in the Roman Catholic Church; Catholics who follow the Missal of 1962 celebrate it as a first class feast. Previous to 1962 it was celebrated as a feast of the rank of double of the first class. It is a feast in the provinces of the Anglican Communion, and a feast or festival in the Lutheran Church. Saint Joseph's Day is the Patronal Feast day for Poland as well as for Canada, persons named Joseph, Josephine, etc., for religious orders, schools and parishes bearing his name, and for carpenters. It is also Father's Day in some Catholic countries, mainly Spain, Portugal, and Italy. March 19 was dedicated to Saint Joseph in several Western calendars by the tenth century, and this custom was established in Rome by 1479. Pope St. Pius V extended its use to the entire Roman Rite by his Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum (July 14, 1570). Since 1969,Episcopal Conferences may, if they wish, transfer it to a date outside Lent. Between 1870 and 1955, a feast was celebrated in honor of St. Joseph as Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, the latter title having been given to him by Pope Pius IX. Originally celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter with an octave, after Divino Afflatu of St. Pius X (see Reform of the Roman Breviary by Pope Pius X), it was moved to the preceding Wednesday. The feast was also retitled The Solemnity of Saint Joseph. This celebration and its accompanying octave was abolished during the modernisation and simplification of rubrics under Pope Pius XII in 1955. It is still maintained by Catholics who follow the missal of 1962 or earlier missals. As the traditional holiday of the Apostles Ss. Philip and James, May 1, had faded from the memory of most Catholics by the mid-twentieth century, that of Joseph the Worker was created in order to coincide with the celebration of international Labour Day (May Day) in many countries. The feast of Ss. Philip and James, which had been celebrated on that date since the sixth century, was moved from its traditional place. In the new calendar published in 1969, the feast, which at one time occupied the highest possible rank in the Church calendar, was reduced to an optional Memorial, the lowest rank for a saint's day. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Saint Joseph on the Sunday after Christmas.

Catholic traditions

March 19 always falls during Lent, and traditionally it is a day of abstinence. This explains the custom of St. Joseph tables being covered with meatless dishes. If the feast day falls on a Sunday, it is observed on the next available day, usually Monday, March 20, unless another solemnity (e.g., a church's patronal saint) falls on that day. Since 2008, if St Joseph's Day falls during Holy Week, it is moved to closest possible day before 19 March, usually the Saturday before Holy Week. This change was announced by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Notitiae March–April, 2006 (475-476, page 96) in order to avoid occurrences of the feasts of St. Joseph and the Annunciation both being moved to just after the Easter octave. This decision does not apply to those using the 1962 Missal according to the provisions of Summorum Pontificum; when that missal is used, its particular rubrics must be observed.

Italy:

In Sicily, where St. Joseph is regarded by many as their Patron Saint, and many Italian-Americancommunities, thanks are given to St. Joseph ("San Giuseppe" in Italian) for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time, and the people prayed for their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. The rain did come, and the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation and is a traditional part of St. Joseph's Day altars and traditions. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph's Day custom. In some communities it is traditional to wear red clothing and eat a Sicilian pastry known as a zeppola on St. Joseph's Day. Sweets are popular because St. Joseph is the patron saint of pastry chefs. Upon a typical St. Joseph's Day altar, people place flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, specially prepared cakes, breads, and cookies (as well as other meatless dishes), and zeppole. Foods are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. Because the feast occurs during Lent, traditionally no meat was allowed on the celebration table. The altar usually has three tiers, to represent the trinity. On the Sicilian island of Lipari, The St. Joseph legend is modified somewhat, and says that sailors returning from the mainland encountered a fierce storm that threatened to sink their boat. They prayed to St. Joseph for deliverance, and when they were saved, they swore to honor the saint each year on his feast day. The Liparian ritual is somewhat changed, in that meat is allowed at the feast. Some villages like Belmonte Mezzagno used to burn wood and logs in squares on the day before St.Joseph, as thanksgiving to the Saint. This is called "A Vampa di San Giuseppe" (the Saint Joseph's bonfire). In Italy March 19 is also Father's Day.

Malta:

This is one of the public holidays in Malta, known as Jum San Ġużepp. People celebrate mass in the morning, and in the afternoon go for apicnic. It is a liturgical feast in the localities of Kalkara, Manikata, Msida, and Qala, but the Maltese typical festa each of these localities celebrate it in a particular Sunday in summer. However, the city of Rabat celebrates the traditional Maltese feast on the 19th of March, where in the evening a procession is also held with the statue of St Joseph. On this day also the city of Żejtun celebrates the day, known as Jum iż-Żejtun (Zejtun's Day). In the past years the Żejtun Parish Church has celebrated these feast days with a procession with the statue of Saint Joseph.

Spain:

In Spain, the day is a version of Father's Day. In some parts of Spain it is celebrated as Falles.

The Philippines:

In the Philippines, many families keep a tradition in which an old man, a young lady, and a small boy are chosen from among the poor and are dressed up as St. Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and the child Jesus, respectively. They are then seated around a table set with the family's best silverware and china, and served a variety of courses, sometimes being literally spoon-fed by the senior members of the family, while theNovena to St. Joseph is recited at a nearby temporary altar.

United States of America:

In New Orleans, Louisiana, which was a major port of entry for Sicilian immigrants during the late 19th century, the Feast of St. Joseph is a city-wide event. Both public and private St. Joseph's altars are traditionally built. The altars are usually open to any visitor who wishes to pay homage. The food is generally distributed to charity after the altar is dismantled. There are also parades in honor of St. Joseph and the Italian population of New Orleans which are similar to the many marching clubs and truck parades of Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day. Tradition in New Orleans also holds that by burying a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the front yard of a house, that house will sell more promptly. In addition to the above traditions, some groups of Mardi Gras Indiansstage their last procession of the season on the Sunday nearest to St. Joseph's Day otherwise known as "Super Sunday," after which their costumes are dismantled. In the Mid-Atlantic regions, Saint Joseph's Day is traditionally associated with the return of anadromous fish, such as striped bass, to their natal rivers, such as the Delaware. Saint Joseph's Day is also celebrated in other American communities with high proportions of Italians such as New York City; Utica, New York; Buffalo; Kansas City, MO; Chicago;Gloucester, Mass.; and Providence, Rhode Island, where observance (which takes place just afterSaint Patrick's Day) often is expressed through "the wearing of the red", i.e., wearing red clothing or accessories similar to the wearing of green on Saint Patrick's Day. At St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School in Staten Island, NY, it was tradition that the former principal, Msgr. JOSEPH Ansaldi, gave free ice cream to all students named Joseph. St. Joseph's Day is also the day when the swallows are traditionally believed to return to Mission San Juan Capistrano after having flown south for the winter.

Birthday of Benito Ju rez MEXICO - M a r 2 1

Benito Juárez (Spanish pronunciation: 21 March 1806 – 18 July 1872) born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin fromOaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, then 1861–1865, 1865– 1867–1871 and 1867, 1871–1872. He resisted the French occupation of Mexico, overthrew the Second Mexican Empire, restored the Republic, and used liberal efforts to modernize the country.

Early life

Juárez was born on 21 March 1806 in a small adobe home in the village of San Pablo Guelatao,Oaxaca, located in the mountain range now known as the "Sierra Juárez". His parents, Juárez and Marcelino Brígida García, were peasants who both died of complications of diabetes when he was three years old. Shortly after, his grandparents died as well, and his uncle then raised him. He described his parents as "indios de la raza primitiva del país," that is, "Indians of the original race of the country." He worked in the corn fields and as a shepherd until the age of 12, when he walked to the city of Oaxaca de Juárez to attend school. At the time, he was illiterate and could not speak Spanish, only Zapotec. In the city, where his sister worked as a cook, he took a job as a domestic servant for Antonio Maza. A lay Franciscan, Antonio Salanueva, was impressed with young Benito's intelligence and thirst for learning, and arranged for his placement at the city's seminary. In 1843 Benito married Margarita Maza.

Political career

Juárez became a lawyer in 1834 and a judge in 1841. He was governor of the state of Oaxaca from 1847 to 1852; in 1853, he went into exile because of his objections to the corrupt military dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna. He spent his exile in New Orleans, Louisiana, working in a cigar factory. In 1854 he helped draft the Plan of Ayutla as the basis for a liberal revolution in Mexico. Faced with growing opposition, Santa Anna resigned in 1855 and Juárez returned to Mexico. The winning party, the liberales (liberals) formed a provisional government under General Juan Álvarez, inaugurating the period known as La Reforma. The Reform laws sponsored by the puro (pure) wing of the Liberal Party curtailed the power of the Catholic Church and the military, while trying to create a modern civil society and capitalist economy based on the model of the United States. The Ley Juárez (Law of Juárez) of 1855 declared all citizens equal before the law and severely restricted the privileges of the Catholic Church. All the efforts ended on the promulgation of the new federalist Constitution of 1857. Juárez became Chief Justice, under moderado (moderate) president Ignacio Comonfort. The conservatives led by General Félix Zuloaga, with the backing of the military and the clergy, launched a revolt under the Plan of Tacubayaon 17 December 1857. Comonfort did not want to start a bloody civil war, so he contrived an an auto-coup d'état, dissolved the congress and appointed a new cabinet in which the conservative party would have some influence, assuming in real terms the Tacubaya plan. Juárez, Ignacio Olvera, and many other deputies and ministers were arrested. The rebels wanted the constitution revoked completely and another all-conservative government formed, so they launched another revolt on 11 January 1858 that proclaimed Zuloaga as president. Comonfort re-established the congress, freed all prisoners and resigned as president. Under the new constitution, the chief justice immediately became interim president until proper elections could be made. By this means, Juárez took office in late January 1858. Juárez then led the liberal side in the Mexican War of the Reform, first from Querétaro and later from Veracruz. In 1859, Juárez took the radical step of declaring the confiscation of church properties. In spite of the conservatives' initial military advantage, the liberals drew on support of regionalist forces. They had U.S. help under some terms of the controversial and never approved McLane–Ocampo Treaty. This turned the tide in 1860; the liberals recaptured Mexico City in January 1861. Juárez was finally properly elected president in March for another four-year term under the Constitution of 1857. Spain, Great Britain, and France reacted with a joint seizure of the Veracruz customs house in December 1861. Spain and Britain soon withdrew after realizing that the French Emperor Napoleon III used the episode as a pretext to launch the French intervention in Mexico in 1862, with plans to establish a conservative regime. The Mexicans won an initial victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, celebrated annually as Cinco de Mayo (May 5). The French advanced again in 1863, forcing Juárez and his elected government to retreat to the north, first to San Luis Potosí, then to the arid northern city of El Paso del Norte, present day Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and finally to the capital of the state, Chihuahua City, where he set up his cabinet and government-in-exile. There he would remain for the next two and a half years. Meanwhile Maximilian von Habsburg, a younger brother of the Emperor of Austria, was proclaimed Emperor Maximilian I of Mexicoon 20 April 1864 with the backing of Napoleon III and a group of Mexican conservatives. Before Juárez fled, Congress granted him an emergency extension of his presidency, which would go into effect in 1865, when his term expired, and last until 1867, when the last of Maximilian's forces were defeated. In response to the French intervention and the elevation of Maximilian, Juárez sent GeneralPlácido Vega y Daza to the U.S. State of California to gather Mexican American sympathy for Mexico's plight. Maximilian, who personally harbored liberal and Mexican nationalist sympathies, offered Juárez amnesty, and later the post of prime minister, but Juárez refused to accept either a government "imposed by foreigners" or a monarchy. A Mexican throne had existed long before him, founded by Emperor Augustin I of Mexico after independence had been achieved in 1821, but was abolished only a year later during a domestic crisis. With the American Civil War now over, President Andrew Johnson invoked the Monroe Doctrine to give diplomatic recognition to the Juárez government and supply weapons and funding to the Republican forces. When he could get no support in Congress, he supposedly had the Army "lose" some supplies (including rifles) "near" (across) the border with Mexico (Gen. Philip Sheridan wrote in his journal about how he "misplaced" about 30,000 muskets). Johnson would not even meet with representatives sent from Maximilian. Faced with this and a growing threat from Prussia, the French troops began pulling out of Mexico in late 1866. Mexican conservatism was a spent force and was less than pleased with the liberal Maximilian. In 1867 the last of the Emperor's forces were defeated and Maximilian was sentenced to death by a military court. Despite national and international pleas for amnesty, Juárez refused to commute the sentence, and Maximilian was executed by firing squadon 19 June 1867 at Cerro de las Campanas in Querétaro. His body was returned to Europe for burial. His last words had been, '¡Viva México!' Juárez was controversially re-elected President in 1867 and 1871, using the office of the presidency to ensure electoral success and suppressing revolts by opponents such as Porfirio Díaz. Benito Juárez died of a heart attack in 1872 while reading a newspaper social section at his desk in the National Palace in Mexico City. He was succeeded by Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, his foreign minister.

Legacy

Today Benito Juárez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation's indigenous peoples, his antipathy toward organized religion, especially the Catholic Church, and what he regarded as defense of national sovereignty. The period of his leadership is known in Mexican history as La Reforma del Norte (The Reform of the North), and constituted a liberal political and social revolution with major institutional consequences: the expropriation of church lands, the subordination of army to civilian control, liquidation of peasant communal land holdings, the separation of church and state in public affairs, and also the almost-complete disenfranchisement of bishops, priests, nuns and lay brothers. La Reforma represented the triumph of Mexico's liberal, federalist, anti-clerical, and pro-capitalist forces over the conservative, centralist, corporatist, and theocratic elements that sought to reconstitute a locally-run version of the old colonial system. It replaced a semi-feudal social system with a more market-driven one, but following Juárez's death, the lack of adequate democratic and institutional stability soon led to a return to centralized autocracy and economic exploitation under the regime of Porfirio Díaz. The Porfiriato (Porfirist era), in turn, collapsed at the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. 21 March is a day set to commemorate Juárez. This date has become a national holiday in Mexico, which has continued to grow in acceptance within Mexican culture. In Washington, D.C., there is a monument by Enrique Alciati, a gift to the US from Mexico.

Human Rights Day SOUTH AFRICA - M a r 2 1

In South Africa, Human Rights Day is a public holiday celebrated on the 21st of March each year. This day commemorates the lives that have been lost to fight for democracy and equal human rights in South Africa during the Apartheid regime (a regime which embraced racial discrimination). The Sharpeville Massacre during Apartheid on 21 March 1960 is the particular reference day for this public holiday.

Tunisia celebrates Independence Day with pride and joy on March 20. Independence gained in 1956, which was the crowning point of national movement led by a long line of patriots and reformers who often risked their lives to reconcile the values of authenticity and modernism in a free, sovereign country. More than a celebration of a national day, this year coincides with a new pattern of our march towards the progress, freedom and democracy. The new Government will endeavor to achieve with the participation of all parties urgent objectives including restoring people’s right and doing justice to the families of martyrs and wounded, establishing a balanced development between the regions, and to meet expectations in matters of employment and decent life especially for youth and graduates. Moreover, the efforts will focus on the promotion of public and private investment through setting up industrial areas, easing administrative, land and law procedures, and developing the infrastructure. On the area of foreign policy, Tunisia will pursue a balanced policy of openness and moderation with its international relations featuring the Arab Maghreb as a constant strategic choice, reaffirming the Arab and Islamic dimension, serving security, stability and development in Africa and promoting cooperation and co-development between the two shores of Mediterranean Sea. Pakistan remains among the most important partner on the basis of sharing the same pride history, the same values of democracy and liberty and looking to the future with confidence and hope. Tunisia and Pakistan enjoy brotherly relations deep rooted in the hearts of the two people, besides a long tradition of cooperation and coordination that exist between the two countries in international organizations particularly the United Nations, the organization of Islamic Conference and the non aligned movement. The recent election of Pakistan as non permanent member of the general assembly of United Nations was considered as a major achievement and Tunisia is proud to be part of the success. The exchanges of high level visits reflect the close ties between the two countries and the seventh session of the joint ministerial commission held in Tunis during 2010 was a cornerstone which laid the foundations of new avenues for a strategic partnership in the benefit of both countries. We’d want deliver a message of solidarity from Tunisia to the brotherly Pakistani people, a message of hope and confidence in a brilliant and prosperous future, we share common will, we believe in universal values of freedom and democracy and have a strong determination to make our two brotherly countries much closer and to upgrade our ties and take them to new heights.


Kossuth tér – one of Budapest’s most important city squares – is being returned to its former glory

Written arrangement with US suggested

HUNGARY Hungary will not be a colony, PMHungary not to lose a penny of cohesion support: PM (Online Mar 15, 2012) Hungary will not become a colony, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said, addressing a commemoration of 1848-49 the Hungarian revolution and war independof ence on Kossuth Square in front of parliament on Thursday afternoon. Greeted by a crowd of a quarter of a million chanting "Viktor, Viktor", Orban said that this day, the anniversary of the revolution, belonged to freedom fighters, K o s s u t h Square would be the square freedom of and fighters, Hungarians are the people of freedom fights. "We are the political and intell e c t u a l successors of 1848," Orban said to the crowd, which received him with loud applause. The poand litical intellectual proof gramme 1848 embodied the idea that "we will not be a he colony", added. The prime minister expressed thanks to those who joined a pro-governrally ment dubbed Peace March in January to express their support for the independence of HunOrban gary. said Hungarians had every reason to follow the example of 1848. For the past 164 years, Hungarians have nurtured the pledge "we will be slaves no longer" from heroic the poem National Song, which is said to have inspired the 1848 revolution. "Do we maintain this vow," Orban asked. Can Hungarians be free if they are suppressed by their debts, if they can only dream about having their own home and if they have to think twice whether they can support another child, he The added. recrowd to sponded every question with a "no". Ever since the "great month of March," Hungary has never been as close to freedom as it is today because it has never before been as united as it is today, Orban said. Nobody should be misled by reports in the international press stating that only a few hundred people showed up in K o s s u t h and Square these even people protested against the government, he added. "After long decades we have never been as powerful as we are today and never before have we had as many political, constitutional and economic means to break away from dependency as we have today," Orban said. "There are enough of us today, and we are desperate enough to win not

only our right to freedom but also our right to be a free Hungary," Orban said. Hungary "must spin round its own axis," and therefore it is necessary to defend its constitution which "represents the pledge of our future," Orban told the crowd, which chanted "we will protect it" in response. "We are clearly aware of the weight of this challenge and duty. Hungary today equally needs the radicalism of

the Petofi, readiness of Kossuth and the wisdom of Szechenyi," he added. Orban said the youth of 1848 alknew ready many what people in Europe failed to notice today: the issue of financial independence. This is why a demand for an independent national bank was included in the historic detwelve mands of the revolutionaries in 1848, he added. The youth of he March, said, understood that a national bank can only be independent if it the protects Hungarian economy from foreign interOrban ests, said to a huge round of applause. Hungarians often seem to have been left alone with their freedom fights but "we know that we are not alone ... our C z e c h , Lithuanian, Slovenian and Romanian friends stand up for us and they not only stand up for us but are also here with us Our today. Lithuanian and Polish friends have come to celebrate together," Orban said. Turning to the foreign guests, he said to "glory Lithuania, God save Poland," and recited the slogan of the Polish legion "for our freedom and for yours" in Hunand garian Polish. Although Hunfaces gary plenty of injustices, it should "plunge not into self-pity which is a habit of losOrban ers," "We said. should not give in to temptation and manoeuvre our ship of Hungary into the calm and lukewarm harbour of cheap selfpity", the prime minister said. "Self-pity and victimhood are habits of losers who explain failure their and incompethey tence; have nothing to do with the of courage freedom fightVictory, ers. success and the struggle for fair treatment r e q u i r e courage and strength," the prime minister said. under"We that stand there are many in problems the Europe; cogwheels are and rattling nerves are stretched. But as a nation with a thousand-year history in Europe we have a demand: we demand equality for Hungary," Orban said. "We refuse to be second-rate European citizens," he said. He concluded his nearly half-hour speech with his traditional slogan "Go Hungary. Go Hungarians."

H unga r ia ns ne v e r t o giv e up fight : M EP Sza je r (Online Mar 15, 2012) Hungarians are again living in a testing period, MEP Jozsef Szajer told a crowd commemorating the 1848-49 Hungarian revolution and war independof ence in Kossuth Square in front of Parliament on Thursday. "Many ask why Hungarians are departing from trodden the path, but no how matter mighty the powers which attack Hungary the nation should never give up," Szajer told a crowd of about a quarter of a million. Hungary's new constitution has the made crimes of communism punishable by law and established the responsibility of the Hungarian communist party and its successors, Szajer said and his audience applauded enthusiastically. He criticised the beneficiaries of previous the regime who attacked Hungary after abroad they had lost their privileges here due to radchanges ical over the past two years. Over the past few months, unprecedented ill-

intentioned attacks have been launched against Hungary, "a country wishing to get out of the crisis

through its own efforts," he said. The speaker, however, warned Hun-

garians not to abandon the ideal of a common Europe based on the cooperation of nations. It is not Europe but some journalists and politiwho cians apply double standards to Hungary," he said. "It is not Europe we have a dispute with as we are [part of] Europe, but unfairwith ness, double standards, political labelling and stupidity," he said. Szajer expressed thanks to supporters of the government, making special mention of the Poles, Lithuanians, Austrians, C z e c h s , Slovenians, Romanians, Spaniards and everyone who in spoke favour of Hungary either in public or beclosed hind doors during the tough debates of the few past months. In 2012 all Hungarians are free to extheir ercise rights. Strikers, demonstrators and those exercising their rights civic should no longer fear of "police shooting out their eyes", he said.

Meeting of Sport Ministers in Belgrade (Online Mar 15, 2012) Attila CZENE, minister of state for sport at the Ministry of National Resources participated as head of the Hungarian delegation at the meeting of European sport ministers organised in Belgrade. The governmental leaders in charge of sport held a discussion in the topics of match fixing, cooperation between EU and Council of Europe Member States and of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS). Concerning the issue of match fixing the Hungarian minister of state for sport, Attila CZENE stated: „Hungary supports the creation of a new Agreement of the Council of Europe on match fixing, because the agreement which will be based on the Recommendations adopted last year by Council of Europe, can improve the efficiency.”. „This Agreement would ensure not only the long-term sustainability, but the commitment of the Member States would be also strengthened, since the signatories could continuously monitor the implementation.” The Sport diplomat reminded the audience at the same time, that: „The monitoring process is currently running concerning the previous Agreements of Council of Europe, these

are the Anti-Doping Convention and the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches”. Attila CZENE also noted: „The Hungarian State Secretariat for Sport within the Ministry of National Resources participates at these bodies too.” The Hungarian sport politician mentioned furthermore in his speech, that „The new Agreement of Council of Europe will hopefully merge the countries also from outside of Europe into one community in the future. We should be aware, that acting successfully for the maintenance of sport integrity falls under the interest of sport leaders in all the countries.” The cooperation within Council of Europe is significant in aspects of foreign policy and sport too. It provides the opportunity for receiving actual, useful information and besides that, the progressive initiatives of the Hungarian sport governance can be also presented. Sport ministers discussed about the possible common fields of action for the cooperation between EU and non-EU states. The Article 165 of the TFEU refers on the Council of Europe as cooperating partner for EU Member States. It was an important

B u d a p e s t F e s t i v a l (Online Mar 16, 2012) The opening ceremony of the 32nd Budapest Spring Festival took place on Friday at the Museum of Applied Arts. The event was attended by Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós and Minister for Rural Development Sándor Fazekas, who stated that the event not only supports culture, but also enables visitors interested in Hungary to become better acquainted with the country. In his speech, Sándor Fazekas reminded those present that the Budapest Spring Festival has been working hard for over thirty years to make our nation more well known by providing guests with a cultural programme that is famous throughout Europe and entire World. As such, he added, it not only supports culture, but also enables visitors and tourists interested in Hungary to become better acquainted with the country.

moment in the enhancement of the cooperation when Attila CZENE, on behalf of the Hungarian EU Presidency invited the representatives of the EU and Council of Europe from the field of sport policy for a common working lunch on 28th June 2011. This practice was also followed during the Polish Presidency and in Belfor broadening the gradecooperation- a joint meeting was organised for the leaders of the two organisations. During the discussion about the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport it was stated: „Hungary considers it essential, that most of the European countries out of the 47 Council of Europe members have already joined to the Agreement. Hungary was founding member of EPAS and has been actively participating in the work since the foundation. We do support the future work of EPAS, just like the preparation of the text of the agreement on match fixing and also the organisation of European meetings in the field of sport policy.” Attila CZENE attended the every two year organised meeting for the second time, as he represented Hungary at the last ministerial meeting, organised in Baku, Azerbaijan too.

S p r i n g O p e n s

The Minister also mentioned the fact that Hungary has been on the front pages of European newspapers for several months now. As he too stated, such news has unfortunately often painted a false and insincere picture of us, of our country and of our nation. Visitors will soon see that here too live cultured, European people, and that instead of hatred, a warm welcome will be what awaits them – underlined the Minister. The Minister also spoke of the fact that Hungary has been furthering European culture for ten centuries, contributing to world development. As he put it, "We are part of the culture of this continent, and can proudly stand up before the world with our unique values; because Europe and the World are more precious, the more they are varied." In his welcoming speech, Sándor Fazekas expressed his wish that – in

addition to traditional values – the 2012 Budapest Spring Festival should serve the forming of the true, positive image of our country, the authentic presentation of Hungary to Europe and the World, and as such contribute to peaceful development and the earliest possible achievement of our common goals. The Mayor of Budapest also took part in the opening ceremony, observing that it was an excellent choice to organise one of the most prestigious events in the cultural calendar at the Museum of Applied Arts. In the words of István Tarlós, our cultural values fit in perfectly among universal cultural values. On the Budapest Spring Festival, he stated that the event should simultaneously present the values of the past, as well as the work of contemporary Hungarian and foreign artists and performers.

St r a t e gic pa r t ne r s hip a gr e e m e nt s wit h c iv il s oc ie t y or ga niza t ions (Online Mar 14, 2012) The influence of civil soc i e t y organisations in the preparation and execution of government is decisions being strengthened. On 13 March, the Ministry of Public Administration Justice and signed strategic partnership agreements with 47 civil society organisations. Parliamentary of Minister Bence State Rétvári signed the agreements with representatives from the organisations in Parliament. The aim of the agreements is the inclusion of the civil sector in the preparation of legislation which affects it. This will enable organisations with specialists possessing outstanding expertise and knowledge to contribute to the creation of legislation which is of higher quality, realisable and suited to everyday practicality. In his speech, Mr Rétvári said that the Government wants civil society organisations to feel that in the reali-

sation of their goals the state is not an obstruction but a partner. He also said that the agreements signed in the previous year had produced very

good results. last Since year, legislation has rethe quired of inclusion civil society in the preparation of rules of law. As a result, opinions on draft legislation and concepts may be submitted by private individuals as well as organisations representing various groups within society – civil society organisations, churches, professional and scientific organisations, national minority self-governments and institutions of higher education. Thus a wide spectrum of society may be included in the preparation of legislation, promoting the improvement of its range, quality and practicability. The nature of the decisionm a k i n g process and the identity of those with whose cooperation it occurs will therefore be rendered transparent and clear. This is extremely important in a mature state under the rule of law.

H unga r y s e e k s r a ppr oc he m e nt wit h EU : D e put y PM (Online Mar 14, 2012) Hungary wants to overcome all legal hurdles with Brussels to start vital loan negotiations with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund as soon as possible, Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics said on Tuesday. He spoke as the EU was preparing to freeze half a billion euros in aid to Hungary, for the first time punishing a member state for flouting budget rules. Hungary, eastern Europe's most indebted nation, is mired in a monthslong legal row with Brussels over laws affecting the central bank, the judiciary and data protection authority, which have so far blocked talks on vital aid that the country needs to cut borrowing costs. "Our goal is to resolve as many ambiguous situations as possible,"

Navracsics said. "We want to create an atmosphere of trust between Hungary and the three institutions (the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank) that ensures a relatively quick start to the talks, and possibly a quick conclusion as well." The government has given mixed signals about its intentions, voicing a willingness to come to terms with its partners but also stressing its resolve to take issues to the EU courts if they contradict Hungary's interests. "Obviously turning to the European Court is a last resort," Navracsics said. "That would mean we were unable to find a solution. I would be very happy if we did find one." On the key issue of central bank independence, Navracsics said the government had already done a lot to meet EU and European Central Bank concerns and that remaining prob-

lems concerning the number of deputy governors and the potential expansion of the Monetary Council, were not hard core policy issues. "The ECB looks like it wants more verbal commitment that the government will not curb the central bank's independence," Navracsics said. "We think that goes without saying in the 21st century. I expect we would need such symbolic concessions in this area." Asked whether the government would change legislation on these issues too if the EU insisted, Navracsics said: "That goes without saying. We have negotiated non-stop. If possible... if we look at the way the European Commission and the government negotiate, we see that the government has been able to make significant compromises already."

A not he r ins ult t o t hos e wit h Slov a k - H unga r ia n dua l c it ize ns hip (Online Mar 13, 2012) The Hungarian Government has expressed its outrage at the fact that the Slovakian police have engaged in the harassment of two Slovakian citizens who recently also acquired Hungarian citizenship. The businessman Olivér Boldoghy and the teacher István Fejér were confronted by police at home and at work in the town of Révkomárom/ Komárno, which has a majority Hun-

garian population. The Hungarian government sees it as extremely regrettable that once again a Slovakian general election campaign has been marked by attempts to intimidate those of Hungarian ethnicity. It is astonishing that those aiming to create a climate of fear among the Hungarian community are not representatives of political parties but from the Slovak authorities themselves. While teaching a lesson at a Hungar-

ian school in the town, István Fehér was confronted in front of his students by police who did not speak Hungarian. The Government of Hungary considers these actions an outrage and utterly condemns them. We trust that the authorities will not succeed in their apparent aim of intimidating members of the Hungarian community, but that these incidents will in fact strengthen the resolve of ethnic Hungarians in those areas.

In comparison to December, on a monthly basis, industrial output rose (Online Mar 14, 2012) According to seasonally and workday-adjusted monthly data, industrial output rose by 2.1 percent in January 2012, whereas on a year-on-year basis production slightly decreased by 0.5 percent. Out of economic sectors, industrial production in the most significant field of processing industry has practically stagnated on an annualized basis. Energy industry output fell by 7.4 percent, while mining – a relatively less prominent sector – expanded by 20.8 percent in January 2012. Within the processing industry, industrial production rose in eight sub-sectors, from which the output of food, beverages and tobacco products, a significant factor, achieved a dynamic increase of 13.2 percent. The production of machinery and machinery equipment, a sector

of medium weight, could also deliver a favourable achievement (16.5 percent), similarly to the output of rubber, plastics and non-metallic mineral products (14.1 percent). The most significant sector of automotive production, however, moderated by 1.1 percent, and the output of computers, electronic and optic products declined by 17.8 percent, which is due basically to sluggish export demand. As far as sales are concerned, on an

annualized basis industrial exports rose by 0.8 percent in the first month of 2012, within which the key factors were the 4.3 percent expansion of the prominent automotive industry and the 15.9 percent contraction of the export of computers, electric and optic products. Domestic sales were 1.2 percent lower in January 2012 compared to the corresponding period a year before. According to the latest industrial data, it is obvious that the slowing global economy has been severely influencing the leading sectors of the Hungarian economy. On the other hand, the consolidation under way in Western European markets and the 14.5 percent rise in overall industrial orders compared to January of last year signal improving future prospects.

A proposal aimed at tax-free status is in the Parliament (Online Mar 14, 2012) It has been a priority for the Ministry for National Economy to secure the pensions of citizens. Until 31 March 2012 it is still possible to leave private pension funds and join the social security (state) pension system. Yesterday such an amendment was submitted to parliament which, provided it is approved, se-

cures that returns due to pension fund members who opt for joining/returning to the state pension system are exempt of tax. For the Ministry for National Economy it is of paramount importance that the pensions of citizens are as safe as possible. To this end, we consider it a key initiative that similarly to previous regulation everybody who

joins the state pension system, which provides predictability and security, should now also obtain his/her taxexempt real returns and membership fees. Consequently, the Ministry for National Economy supports the adoption of the proposal.

EU finance ministers impose funding suspension, will revisit decision in June (adds Hungary econmin) (Online Mar 13, 2012) EU finance ministers on Tuesday decided to go ahead with the suspension of a portion of Hungary's cohesion funding for 2013 but also agreed to revisit the decision in June to assess the government's progress in keeping to its budget deficit goals, officials of the EU Danish presidency told MTI. The European Commission initiated the suspension of 495 million euros of funding Hungary gets to close the gap between its poorer and betteroff regions as part of an excessive deficit procedure. It originally gave the government until September to prove that the budget deficit could be brought to below 3 percent of gross domestic

product in a sustainable way. Hungary will have just over three months in which to make adjustments in the budget in a bid to escape the sanction, Margrethe Vestager Hansen, Denmark's finance minister in charge of the EU presidency's financial affairs, said. Earlier diplomatic sources told MTI that in the course of the extended debate between the finance ministers momentum had grown to postpone the decision on freezing the funding. The sources, who did not want to be named, said four member states, the UK, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic, had lobbied to delay the decision. Germany was also inclined to support this view, the sources

said. Hungarian Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy said a "rational decision" had emerged at the Ecofin meeting, "bringing to an end double standards". He told journalists after the meeting that the national interest and EU values had coincided in Tuesday's decision. "My first impression as a minister was that at least twothirds of EU member states stood by Hungary's national interests," Matolcsy said, adding that insofar as Hungary is making the necessary adjustments, the decision will be repealed in June. He said ministers had acknowledged the Hungarian government's achievements in reducing its public debt and pursuing a strict fiscal policy.

PAKISTAN

(Online Mar 13, 2012) The reconstruction of Kossuth tér in Budapest has begun in accordance with the decision made by the National Assembly. More than twenty years on from the change of regime, after the completion of the work in spring 2014, we will be able, finally, to give the nation a square that respects the traditional pre-1944 look of the square, while also meeting the needs of the 21st century. The square will pay due homage to the past, serving as a monument to distinguished statesmen and heroes and symbolizing Hungarian democratic traditions. Budapest’s Kossuth tér and the building of Parliament are part of the world heritage. They are special National Memorial Sites, the centre of Hungarian statehood and constitutionality, and Hungary’s main political stage. The reconstruction is part of the “Imre Steindl Programme”, whose name pays tribute to the architect of the Parliament building. The aim of the programme is to build a public square and park that preserve traditions and is also modern and multi-functional. It should welcome

those wishing to relax in the park, visitors to Parliament and protestors exercising their political rights alike. The car park, which is an eyesore on the square before Parliament, will be moved underground. Currently preparations for the construction of the underground car park are in progress on the north side of Kossuth tér. The visitor centre, which will welcome both Hungarian and foreign tourists, will likewise be situated underground. Parliament attracts almost half a million tourists each year. At present they have to wait outside the building, sometimes even for hours, in a corner of the square to be admitted, because there is no appropriate place to receive them. By placing the visitor centre and the car park underground, it will be possible to make the square considerably greener. Visitors we be able to sit and stroll in a more spacious, more aesthetic and more harmonious park. At one time atmospheric cafés and restaurants with shaded terraces awaited guests in the buildings around the square. Why should that feeling

not be restored? The park on Kossuth tér will also be more conducive to relaxation because there will be no through vehicle traffic on Kossuth tér. It will only be possible to pass in front of Parliament by tram or by bicycle. The same will also be true behind Parliament because the promenade on the bank of the Danube will reopen. The embankment, which was closed years ago, will be renovated and made an integral part of the square around Parliament. That means from spring 2014 it will even be possible to walk all the way round the fully refurbished Parliament building. The Hungarian Parliament building is rightly one of the world’s most famous parliaments. It is part of our cultural, historical and architectural heritage, and the pride of us all. With the Imre Steindl Programme and the reconstruction of Kossuth tér, after many decades, we are finally creating a worthy environment for the Parliament building both respecting Hungarian traditions and satisfying modern expectations.

The Prime Minister is informed of preparations for the London Olympics (Online Mar 13, 2012) On 12 March, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with Zsolt Borkai, the Chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee. The Chairman informed the PM of progress on preparations for the Olympics,

and thanked him for the government measures aimed at promoting Hungary’s success at the Olympics. Both the PM and the Chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee said that they consider new

legislation to be a major step forward in providing more funding for Hungarian sport and in creating a unified, transparent system for the governance of sports activities.

Letter of congratulation to Robert Fico from PM Viktor Orbán (Online Mar 13, 2012) Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has sent written congratulations to Robert Fico, leader of the Direction-Social Democracy Party, after the latter’s victory in the parliamentary elections in Slovakia.

The Prime Minister's letter stressed the importance he attaches to further development of strategic relations between the two countries, as well as the continuity of cooperation in the fields of infrastructure and energy policy.

Mr. Orbán made it clear to his future counterpart that he remains open to discussions on issues concerning the fate of the Hungarian community in Slovakia.

Programme launched by Government for people living in Hungary’s 800 most disadvantaged small localities (Online Mar 13, 2012) The p r o gramme launched the by Governm e n t today is designed to give a boost to regions and famiaflies fected by long-term u n e m ployment. Disadvant a g e d families and locali- Zsuzsa Hegedűs, András Giró-Szász ties are encouraged to submit tenders, to the Government will create tender form social cooperatives and to opportunities for 800 small localiengage in plant cultivation and an- ties situated in the country’s 47 imal husbandry with aid from the most disadvantaged regions which will enable them to operate Government. The details of the programme social cooperatives, to create jobs were announced by Zsuzsa for local residents and to produce Hegedűs, Chief Advisor to the foodstuffs for their own needs. The Prime Minister, who has coordi- programme primarily targets small nated similar programmes on civil localities in extreme poverty with a initiative for years and has helped population of less than 5,000 that some fifteen thousand families to are most affected by unemploystand on their own feet. By draw- ment. The objective the Governing on these experiences, the ment wishes to achieve is that Government has decided to open these localities should not lead a up the way towards the establish- meagre life on social benefits but should be given an opportunity to ment of social cooperatives. As the first step of the programme, move towards a better life, to

stand on their own feet and to provide jobs and the conditions necessary for daily life for their inhabitants. The newly launched social cooperatives would be eligible for HUF 5 million in aid; applications may be submitted as of 1 May. Membership will be voluntary. HUF 5 billion in total is available for the implementation of the programme. In smaller localities, bidders will be required to involve all families with multiple disadvantages in their cooperatives. According to plans, it would be possible to proceed to the second level of the system after 1 to 2 years where bidders may apply for HUF 15 million, while applicants at the third level would be eligible for HUF 50 million, at which stage the joint activities could be pursued within the framework of smaller business operations.

The Government will help to restore the fire-damaged Krasznahorka Castle / hrad Krásna Hôrka (Online Mar 12, 2012) Hungary is ready to help and contribute to the restoration of Krasznahorka Castle, which was gutted by fire at the weekend. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén guaranteed this to József Berényi, president of the Hungar-

ian Coalition Party in Slovakia. Krasznahorka Castle (hrad Krásna Hôrka in Slovakian) burnt down at the weekend, after children had been playing with fire in the vicinity. The roof caught fire first, and the flames then spread to the rest of

the building. Although there was an earlier building, work on the fortress began in the 14th century. It is in a region which has been populated by Hungarians for many centuries, and is an important monument to Hungarian history and culture.

Anti-corruption programme soon to be debated by Government (Online Mar 12, 2012) The first government-level anti-corruption programme has been completed. The Ministry of Public Administration and Justice has recently closed the relevant social consultations. The anti-corruption programme will be debated by the Government within weeks. The anti-corruption programme points significantly beyond the actions taken in the past two decades to combat corruption as it does not merely emphasise the implementation of measures under criminal law but also attributes a major role to the prevention of corruption. The programme involves specific measures with the aid of which the analysis of the risk of corruption, the assessment and investigation of suspicious cases and prevention, as far as possible, will emerge in the day-to-day operation of public administration organisations. The objective is to develop a public sphere that recognises, condemns and prevents corruption and further to call to life a degree of social collaboration that helps to reinforce and embed our ethical values in practice. The publication of the document was preceded by a long process of preparatory work, as part of which the President of the State Audit Office, the President of the Supreme Court, the Chief Prosecutor and, on behalf of the Government, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Administration and Justice Tibor Navracsics issued a joint statement in which they pledged their commitment to the fight against corruption. Upon the drafting of the programme, the authors took account of several international and local research studies conducted in the last few years with respect to the state of corruption in Hungary which concluded that society regarded corruption as a grave problem and business players, too, looked upon corruption as one of the factors that most affected their operations. According to surveys, both the population and business players in Hungary regard corruption as a grave problem. The latter additionally claim that it is a major hinin their operating drance environment which has a most harmful impact on the entire national economy. Compared with more than fifty countries around the world, Hungarians believe the most firmly that the individual players of the economy can only succeed at the expense of others. Hungarian society stubbornly be-

lieves that it is impossible to succeed by fair and honest means, and this in turn results in a lack of trust towards state institutions as well. We must confirm with regret that this lack of trust is not unfounded; a number of corruption cases emerged in previous years, during the socialist governments, which also involved state and local leaders. The fundamental principles of the anti-corruption programme include, among others, credibility, the building of social trust and gradualness; in other words, implementation based on the amount of time necessary for the individual measures to take effect. It is important to involve partners in the programme, to focus on prevention as the centre of the transof organisational formation operation and a change of mentality, and to achieve accountability for every instance of corruption in the past. Measures taken by the Government to fight corruption to date The Government has implemented the most intensive series of anti-corruption measures of the last twenty years since its establishment in all three relevant areas. The three areas of corruption, political, social and economic corruption, must be managed as an integral whole as these have an impact on one another and achieve their goals in combination. Hungary joined the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) in September 2010 and reinforced and enhanced the competence of the prosecutor’s office in the interest of uncovering corruption-related crimes. The Central Investigating Prosecution Office established an AntiCorruption Cases Department, while as a result of the efforts of the National Defence Service set up under the auspices of the police, internal corruption networks were discovered and eliminated within the professional law enforcement staff which had previously operated undetected. The Government has further taken significant measures towards the acceleration of the administration of justice so that crime perpetrators should not remain unpunished for years. Compared with the years before, the budget of courts was increased by HUF 3 billion in 2011. The judicial reform, too, serves to guarantee the more effective, more transparent and more reasonable operation of prosecution offices and courts. One of the main goals of this reform process

is to achieve that a final and absolute judgment is passed in every case within two years at most. The new Penal Code, which is currently being debated as part of a social consultation process and is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2013, too, will prescribe more severe sentences for crimes of corruption. After its entry into office, the Government began to hold accountable the previous political elite involved in earlier cases suspected of corruption and embarked on uncovering cases of mismanagement involving state property. The Government appointed a government commissioner for accountability and anti-corruption governmental measures who investigates earlier fraudulent practices at stateowned companies and the unlawful squandering of state landed properties. One of the first laws passed by Parliament in the summer of 2010 was the Act on the responsible management of state assets which imposes stringent conditions with respect to the management of state assets and lays down that revenues derived from the sale of state assets must be re-invested in the management of assets and do not constitute additional revenues for the central budget. Hungary’s new Fundamental Law entering into force on 1 January 2012 defines the assets of the Hungarian State and municipalities as national assets, while Parliament passed a cardinal law on national assets in December. A new public procurement law entered into force on 1 January 2012 which, in the interest of fighting fraud and corruption, closes the loopholes through which the assets of the State were previously siphoned off, and has created clear and transparent conditions. The loopholes of state corruption are being closed down one by one, also as a result of the public administration reform currently in progress. The reforms embarked on in public administration, too, effectively contribute to the fight against corruption on the basis of the new legal rules. The government decisions which prevent the unfair siphoning off of public funds under the semblance of legality also have an anti-corruption effect, in addition to effects of economy. By virtue of the drastic reduction of corporation tax, from 19% to 10%, the Government has taken a major step towards convincing market players that it is not worth resorting to trickery and evading laws.

Already 150,000 new Hungarian citizens (PR) Another centenarian – a 103year-old Hungarian living in northRomania's ern Máramarossziget/Sighetu Marmatiei – has filed an application for Hungarian citizenship under Hungary's simplified naturalisation procedure. Due to his advanced years, Imre Bálint's application will be promptly processed. Once he

is granted citizenship, he will be a Hungarian national for the third time in his life. At an oath-taking ceremony in Székesfehérvár (central Hungary), Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said that the 150,000th person will be able to receive their naturalisation document around 15 March, and some time in spring

the 250,000th citizenship application is expected to have been received. According to the Deputy Prime Minister for Hungarian communities abroad, Saint Stephen’s work of state founding is being continued by enabling Hungarians beyond the borders to voluntarily acquire Hungarian citizenship.

Recommendation by MÁÉRT on the programme ‘2012: the Year of Hungarian Kindergartens Beyond the Borders’ (PR) On 7 March the Education and Cultural Committee of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT: the highest-level political forum for Hungarian parties and those beyond the borders) adopted a recommendation on the programme 2012: the Year of Hungarian Kindergartens Beyond the Borders. The programme was announced on 16 February at the House of Hungarians by Deputy State Secretary for Hungarian Communities Abroad Zsuzsanna Répás, at a press conference which was also attended by nursery-school children. The one-yearlong programme of events embraces the ongoing promotion of Hungarian kindergartens in the Hungarian-populated regions of the Carpathian Basin. Ms. Répás said that the Government has set aside 100 million forints for the programme – adopted last November by the plenary meeting of MÁÉRT – which is fully in line with

the Goverment’s strategy to support the preservation of Hungarian communities beyond the borders. The programme’s plan was founded on the government decision that from last year educational support from the Bethlen Gábor Fund should extend to nursery-school children living beyond the borders. Ms. Répás said that educational institutions were the most responsible bodies for emerging generations to become active in Hungarian communities. Targeting Hungarian kindergarten enrolment is the first commitment by the Hungarian government in this regard, since children are the most receptive at this age, pointed out Ms. Répás. She added that it is crucially important to prevent any hindrance to passing on the native language. The programme aims to make national traditions and Hungarian kindergartens’ pedagogical methods attractive and adaptive not only for kinder-

garen teachers, but also for parents. In this framework educators and folk musicians will visit Carpathian Basin regions beyond the borders to jointly carry out action plans for the development of Hungarian kindergartens. At first Hungarian teachers and children living in the Carpathian Basin will be presented with examples of best practice, such as the UNESCO-recognised Timár-dance method and storytelling methods. The overall programme includes vocational training and producing methodological materials, as well as calls for proposals for Hungarian teachers abroad. In harmony with the programme initiative, the Research Institute for Hungarian Abroad has Communities launched its research on Hungarlanguage kindergartens ian abroad: a research topic that had been pushed to the background in research on education matters.

Zsolt Németh: the Hungarian government’s standpoint is on the question of autonomy is clear (PR) In a presentation entitled Nation and Policy Affecting Hungarian Communities Abroad at Budapest’s Corvinus University, Zsolt Németh said that not only do Hungarians beyond the borders expect results from the Hungarian government’s policy affecting Hungarian communities abroad, but so does Hungarian society at large; meanwhile foreign countries see the importance of maintaining stable, peaceful relations in the region. ’The Hungarian government’s standpoint on the question of autonomy is clear,’ said Mr. Németh, who was speaking after

a meeting in the capital with representatives of the Szekler NaCouncil. The State tional Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the new Fundamental Law of Hungary makes support for local autonomy a constitutional obligation, and one of the front-line bodies in this respect is the Szekler National Council. Balázs Izsák, president of the Szekler National Council, said that autonomy represents the institutional guarantee of their survival. He said that according to the Hungarian-Romanian Basic Treaty (signed in 1995), the situation of

the Hungarian minority in Romania was the object of international cooperation, so it followed from the basic treaty that creating autonomy in Szeklerland was also the aim of international cooperation. The Szekler National Council was founded on 16 October 2003 as a civil organization. After establishing local and central Szekler committees, the council was created by more than 200 delegates representing 97 settlements in the counties of Hargita, Kovászna, Maros and Brassó.

Smer-SD wins landslide victory in Slovakian general election (PR) Shortly after the Radicová government fell in October, an early general election was set for 10 March. Some 4.3 million eligible voters in Slovakia were able to choose from 26 political parties and movements to send representatives to the 150-member Parliament. Another large protest related to the 'Gorilla' corruption case was held in Bratislava on the Friday before the election – this was against general corruption in politics. All opinion polls showed that the Social Democrats (SmerSD) had the highest level of support – as much as forty per cent. The hottest question seemed to be whether Smer would gain enough votes to govern on its own, or if it would need a coalition partner. The polls proved to be reliable. On 10 March the left-leaning party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) – famous for its anti-Hungarian rhetoric – recorded an overwhelming victory, winning 83 seats that correspond to 44.41 per cent of casted votes. This means that Mr. Fico’s party is even able to govern alone, with no coalition partner. As in the previous election, the Hungarian Coalition Party (MKP), which represents Hungarians in South Slovakia, was unable to get into the Slovak parliament. The fact that Hungarian votes were split between the MKP and the Slova-

kian‐Hungarian party Most‐Híd might have been the reason for this. The latter party managed to seats in Parliament. gain Most‐Híd received 6.89 per cent of the votes and will have 13 seats in the House (they will have nine Hungarian MPs and four Slovak MPs). The MKP got 109 483 supporting votes (4.28 per cent), which is under the threshold to get into Parliament. Despite this, the MKP won almost exactly the same number of votes as previously, while Most‐Híd received fewer: they gained 30,000 fewer votes (6.09 per cent/155 744 votes/11 mandates) than last time. MostHíd party won mainly in those constituencies where Hungarians live scattered, mostly exposed to assimilation. In four electoral districts MKP won over Most-Híd. In Tőketerebes/Trebišov: 4 901/5 404 (Most-Híd/MKP), in Nagykürtös/Veľký Krtíš: 2 685/3 200, in Komárom/Komárno: 13 947/18 694, in Párkány/Štúrovo: 5 506/7 070. At national level MKP won in the Párkány and Komárom constituencies, while Most-Híd only triumphed in Dunaszerdahely/ Dunajská Streda. This time the turnout among Hungarian voters was much lower than the national average. The national voter turnout was considerably higher than expected. The 59.11 per cent participation-rate

had definitely worsened the parliamentary chances of MKP. Béla Bugár, leader of Most‐Híd, said that during the election campaign his party took part in approximately one hundred campaign events. Compared to parliamentary parties, MKP had more restricted possibilities during the campaign. Speaking about the difficulties, president of the MKP József Berényi pointed out that the Slovakian media tried to ignore the party. For example, the TA3 news channel invited MKP representatives to speak only after the party protested in a letter, arguing that leaders of all other nonparliamentary parties had already been invited to do so. Mr. Berényi noted that if Most-Híd had had formed a coalition with MKP before the elections, they would have been the strongest opposition party in the Parliament. Slovakian Hungarians who were stripped of Slovak citizenship shortly after obtaining Hungarian citizenship were not allowed to vote in the election, while Slovaks with a permanent residence in Slovakia or any foreign country were able to cast postal votes from abroad. These voters were required to deliver their completed ballot papers to authorities by 10 March.

Moral redress in the Hedvig Malina case (PR) A month ago the Slovakian government voluntarily published a statement expressing regret over the case of Hedvig Malina. The Government said that ‘Some elements of Hedvig Malina’s case suggest that during the police investigation there may have been a violation of her dignity and rights, as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights’. In 2006 (when the Fico government was in power) the student from the Nyitra/ Nitra region was beaten because she had been overheard speaking Hungarian. Hedvig Malina was 23 at the time of the incident. She took her case to the European Court of Human Rights

(ECHR) in November 2007. The Strasbourg-based ECHR approved the Slovak government's apology on 8 November 2011, since the victim demanded only moral redress. As a result, the case is now officially closed, and neither Hedvig Malina nor the Slovak authorities can file new proceedings. At the same time, an investigation launched by the Slovak chief prosecutor's office in May 2007 is still under way, placing her under suspicion of giving false testimony and misleading the authorities. Mrs. Malina's lawyer said that her client's current situation had become ‘paradoxical’, proving that Slovakia is not a

state under the rule of law, and she added that she could still file a complaint at the Committee of Ministers at the ECHR, as the Slovakian chief public prosecutor has not respected the decision to settle the dispute. The newest development in the case is that Robert Fico, Slovakia’s Smer party leader, said the other day in a political TV programme that what Malina Hedvig had stated about her physical maltreatment was a false allegation. The prime minister-elect is seemingly unwilling to respect the judicial decision and settle this long-standing issue between the two states.

F o r Va j d a s á g – i n a n o r m a l Serbia’ (PR) Last Tuesday at the Hungarian Teacher Training Faculty of Szabadka/Subotica the president of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ) and parliamentary deputies of the party held their second consultation with leaders of civil society organisations concerning the approaching elections. István Pásztor, the president of the Alliance, said that in these consultations he intended to talk about the present pre-election situation with representatives from the civil sphere. The Hungarian community in Vajdaság has almost 600 civil society organisations. Cooperation with civil society organisations has already featured in implementation of strategies for the development of Hungarian media, culture and education in Vajdaság and in drawing up the Hungarian electoral roll, said Mr. Pásztor. He pointed out that the conditions for cooperation are favourable in a place where 600 civil society organisations and

three historical churches are present. It is not yet clear whether the election of the president of the republic will be held together with national and provincial parliamentary and municipal elections – presumably on 29 April. However it is known that the President’s mandate will expire only in February 2013. The target for the VMSZ is to strengthen Hungarians’ political power and influence in Vajdaság. The objective on the number of votes is also ambitious: 100,000. This would be thirty per cent more than four years ago. With 100,000 votes, five or six deputies could get into the Parliament in Belgrade instead of the present four, and the party could both keep municipalities they now hold, and regain those which they lost. It means that they could regain Szabadka, Zenta, Ada and Csoka. This is equally important for Hungarians in Serbia and for Hungary’s policy on Hungarian communities abroad, said Mr. Pásztor. This is

reinforced by the Hungarian prime minister’s visit last Monday and the ministerial statement on the issue, said Mr. Pásztor. The Party’s election slogan is ‘For Vajdaság – in a normal Serbia’, which shows that the VMSZ is interested primarily in the development of the community in the region. The VMSZ is taking part in the elections independently but, as the president declared a week ago in Belgrade, after the election it wishes to continue its cooperation with the Democratic Party (DS) and its partners. According to a survey published last Monday by Faktor Plus Agency, the coalition centred on the right-wing Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) seems to be in the lead: at present 31.2 per cent of voters would vote for them. In second place is the Democratic Party, on 29.1 per cent. Elections in Serbia will be held on 29April or 6 May.

Egeresi and Pásztor negotiate with the Hungarian Minister of Rural Development (PR) Sándor Egeresi, president of the Provincial House of Representatives and István Pásztor, vicepresident of the Provincial Government and provincial eco-

nomic secretary, have met Sándor Fazekas, Hungarian Minister of Rural Development in Újvidék/Novi Sad. The main themes of their meeting were fur-

ther steps to be taken by Serbia on its path to European integration, the role of Vajdaság in this process, and possible cooperation in agriculture.

Slovenian president receives leader of Hungarian community in Muravidék (PR) On 6 March Slovenian President Danilo Türk received the leaders of the Hungarian community in Muravidék. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the Hungarian community’s situa-

tion and opportunities for development. The other participants were: Ferenc Horváth, the president of the National Community of Hungarian Self-governments in Muravidék (MMÖNK);

vice-presidents of MMÖNK Anna Cár and Zsuzsanna Vugrinec; and László Göncz, parliamentary representative of the Hungarian national minority.

Vi k t o r O r b á n ’s s p e e c h o n t h e National Holiday (PR) The representation of Hungarian interests and the importance of traditional European values were in the focus of Viktor Orbán’s speech on the March 15 National Holiday. 250 thousand people were listening to the Prime Minister at the square in front of Parliament. According to the PM, the programme and wish of Hungarians in 2012 is the same as it was during the 1848 revolution the national holiday commemorates: “we will not be a colony”. Mr. Orbán urged the utilisation of the same standards to Hungary that are applied to other countries. “We understand that there are many problems in Europe. But as a thousand-year-old nation we have a demand: we demand equality to Hungarians”. He added: “we will not be second-class European citizens. It is a legitimate claim to apply the same standards to Hungary that are applied to other countries”. According to Mr. Orbán Hungary has to face a lot of unfairness these days as well, but it should not sink into self-pity. “Courage and strength are necessary to achieve victory, success, and fair treatment” – he stressed. The PM thinks that the sense of freedom fights is not the fight itself, but the period following it. It is not enough to

vote out evil, it has to be defeated; and it is not enough to defeat evil, good has to be created so that evil cannot return – he emphasised. He added that the cabinet had done a lot for that in the past one and half years. He reminded his audience that hundreds of thousands of families had been rescued from the debt trap, banks and multinational companies had been involved in burden sharing. “We have a durable constitution, and we have destroyed the last barriers of national reunion over borders”. “Freedom means, among others, that we define the laws of our lives, we decide what is important and what is not”. The PM mentioned financial independence as one of the most significant conditions of freedom. He stated regarding the central bank: “an independent national bank is not independent from its nation, but it protects the nation’s economy from foreign interests”. “It often seems that Hungarians are left alone with their wars of independence. But we know that we are not alone. Our Czech, Latvian, Slovenian and Romanian friends stand beside us; and our Lithuanian and Polish do not only stand for us but they are here with us, they came here to celebrate

with us”. He turned to the latter and said: “praise to Lithuania, God bless Poland!”, then he cited – in Hungarian and Polish, too – the motto of the Polish legion from the war for independence in 1848/49: “for your freedom and ours”. Thousands came to Budapest from Poland to celebrate with the Hungarians and listen to the PM’s speech. Mr. Orbán thinks that “it is natural that Hungarians can be liked or disliked. However, noone can dispute that the Hungarians’ fights for independence have always taken the world further. They did so because we were right”. As he said: “we say it today as well: new roads are needed (…), and you will see that we will be right again”. In order to be able to lift “Europe’s cart out of the quagmire, European citizens making a living from work and their individual efforts” are necessary. “Their time has to come now because if not, it means the end of Europe” – he stated. The PM added: “a hidden Europe of tens of millions who silently endure their lot, insist on national sovereignty, and believe in Christian virtues like courage, honour, loyalty, and mercy, are with us, Hungarians”.

(Online Mar 18, ISLAM2012) ABAD - An important meeting of the PPP-led ruling alliance Saturday emphasised that Pakistan’s relations with other countries should be based on mutual respect and and interests made transparent with the involvement of public representatives. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani jointly chaired the meeting held at the Presidency, which discussed critical issues relating to security and foreign policy. A credible source, who attended the meeting, told TheNation the meeting approved more than three dozen recommendations firmed up by the Parliamentary Committee on the National Security (PNCS), which are likely to be taken up by the joint sitting next week. Sources said the meeting also decided to leave the matter up to the Parliament whether to give blanket approval of the set of recommendations or to incorporate more suggestions. According to the sources, the parliamentary review of Pakistan’s new rules of engagement with the United States, Nato and Isaf seeks written agreement to make it more transparent as per the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Some important recommendations aim

at bringing the allies’ goods passing through Pakistan into the tax net. Presidential Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said the consultation was in continuation of an earlier meeting held on March 14, adding that the foreign minister and the army chief briefed the meeting on security and foreign policy-related issues. The meeting also appreciated the services and sacrifices rendered by the armed forces, paramilitary forces and police in defending the country and the fight against militancy. The spokesperson said the heads of allied parties congratulated the president for his record fifth address to the joint sitting of the Parliament, who on his turn praised the allies for their contributions and strong support. The meeting was attended by

Chaudhry Pervaiz Senator Elahi, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Dr Farooq Sattar, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri, Munir Orakzai, Khan Farhatullah Babar Engineer and Shaukatullah. Finance Minister Hafeez Abdul Shaikh, Secretary Salman General Faruqui, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and ISI DG Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, DG ISI were also present on the occasion Monitoring Desk adds: A joint session of the Parliament for approving new rules of engagement with the US and on resumption of Nato supplies has been called on March 20, a private TV channel reported on Saturday. The government, on the military leadership’s demand, has also formed a committee to bring the opposition on the same page over recommendations of the PCNS. The eagerly awaited session of the Parliament particularly by the coalition forces of Pakistan in the ‘war against terror’ will linger over three days. It is expected that the government will restore the supplies, but after levying transportation charges on vehicles and goods.

Pakistan is recognized as responsible nuke State Islamabad—Pakistan will strongly present its case as a responsible nuclear state and demand an equal treat by the world powers in the field of nuclear technology. Top military, civilian officials and technical experts briefed Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on all possible aspects of Nuclear Summit in Seoul. PM Gilani will lead Pakistani delegation to Seoul on March 25 and firmly present Pakistan’s point of views on pressing issues. The detailed presentation to the PM was given by senior officials of SPD and Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Mr. Masood Khan, who is also Chief negotiator on Nuclear Security. The important briefing was also attended by Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shamim Whynne, Lt. General (Retd) Khalid Kidwai , DG Security, Foreign

Secretary beside technical experts. Speaking on the occasion Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani noted that the world had recognized that Pakistan evolved excellent safety security arrangements for its nuclear assets under the auspices of National Command Authority. Prime Minister also added that the National Command Authority had the full backing of the Parliament because it was created by an act of Parliament. Prime Minster received an extensive briefing on technical dimensions of the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets including the state of art training of the personnel deputed to ensure the security of the nuclear installations. The meeting also dilated upon the initiatives to augment the security mechanism in the light of the Fukushima incident in Japan by adopting new tech-

nology in the mechanism. Ambassador Masood Khan briefed the Prime Minister from diplomatic point and said that Pakistan had played major role in strengthening the mechanism of the IAEA. He recalled that Pakistan had the honour of chairing the BOG’s of IAEA and Dr. Ansar Pervez remained its chairman last year. IAEA has recognized Pakistan’s contributions in this regard, he added. Ambassdor Massod noted that Seoul Forum would provide an excellent opportunity to project Pakistan as a responsible nuclear power state of the world. The presentation was attended by Foreign Minister, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shamim Whynne, Lt. General (Retd) Khalid Kidwai, DG Security, Foreign Secretary and other senior officials.

US made no secret deal with India to prevent attack on West Pak in 1971: Kissinger New Delhi—Veteran diplomat Henry Kissinger has denied that the United States had made a secret pact with India to prevent an attack on West Pakistan. After the 1971 war which saw the break up of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh, the US asked India not to strike against West Pakistan. Addressing the opening gala dinner keynote address at the India Today conclave, the former US Secretary of State said that the war broke out just when the US was conducting negotiations with China through Pakistan. “India and the former Soviet Union had made a near-alliance around this time. It was in the national interest of the US to preserve West Pakistan,” he said. The Indian army moved into East Pakistan on December 4, 1971. The Indian offensive led to the creation of Bangladesh. The US responded with gunboat diplomacy. President Nixon sent the Seventh Fleet led by the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS En-

terprise into the Bay of Bengal. “Each side did what it had to do. Each acted on its own national interest which clashed for a brief moment,” he said. Kissinger also laid another Cold War ghost to rest. White House tapes of the Nixon presidency declassified in 2005 reveal the former Secretary of state used unparliamentary language while referring to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The declassified tapes reveal Nixon calling then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi an “old witch” and Kissinger agreeing with that assessment and reiterating that expression in their conversation. “I was under pressure and made those comments in the heat of the moment. People took those remarks out of context,” Kissinger said, adding that he had the highest regard for Indira Gandhi. The veteran statesman who turns 90 next year, spoke on ‘the making of an Asian century’. Clearly, an issue consuming global attention. Israel has threatened to attack

Iran destabilising the Middle East. The US is embroiled in the Afghan quagmire. India, meanwhile, wearily watches the rise of China. Kissinger, the architect of President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972, had a word of advice for India. It would not be in India’s national interests to allow a dominant power or a transnational power that would intrude into its sphere of influence from Singapore to East Africa. He also said that China would treat India with respect and that India, China and the US would have to work together to balance China’s internal forces that had the potential to destabilize it. He said he believed in the long-term compatibility of the India-US interests and described India as “a key country” in the evolving global geopolitical landscape. Dr Kissinger signed off with his interpretation of the art of foreign policy: “to have a vision of the future and the courage to pursue it”.

Pakistan has potential to be primary target for UK brands KARACHI - British CommisHigh Adam sioner Thomson has promoted Pakistan as a good place for British businesses to invest while inUK augurating beauty care retailer Crabtree & Evelyn’s first store in Pakistan here at Dolmen City Mall. The British Deputy CommisHigh sioner and Director of UK Trade and Investment Pakistan, Francis atCampbell tended the launch ceremony along renowned with fashion celebrities and media personalities in Pakistan. Cosmo Group, founded in 2000, is the official distributor of Crabtree & Evelyn in Pakistan. Crabtree & Evelyn will be joining other famous British brands in Pakistan such as Body Shop; hair care brand Toni & Guy; clothing retailers Next and Mothercare; and Pakistan’s first international department store Debenhams. Adam Thomson, British High Commissioner, said, “Pakistan has the potential to be the primary target for all British

brands who want to benefit from this relatively untapped market. We were delighted to work with Cosmo Group in helping Crabtree & Evelyn’s achieve this milestone. They will be joining other British brands such as Next, Body Shop, Toni & Guy and Debenhams, in bringing jobs and investment to Pakistan, he said. “The UK Government is fully committed to building on the bilateral trade relationship between our two countries. Encouraging more British companies, including those like Crabtree and Eve-

lyn in the retail sector, to choose Pakas an istan investment destination will be key to achieving this. This new store reprefurther sents progress towards our goal of increasing the £1.9bn worth of trade that already flows between our two every countries year to £2.5 billion by 2015.” Cosmo Group has brought a number of high quality premium brands in the health and beauty industry to Pakistan. Brands such as OPI, Skin Medica, proactiv solutions and keratin complex were introduced successfully in the market, by conducting several educational seminars for opinion leaders on local and international levels. Over the years, Cosmo Group has helped create awareness of new international trends amongst Pakistani consumers. Cosmo Group has announced aggressive investment plans for the future and intends to emulate its commercial retail concepts in both Lahore and Islamabad.

Pakistan: Officials claim drone attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty (Online Mar 17, 2012) Excuse the pun but Pakistan drones on and on about this issue. Parliament has even passed a motion that the attacks must stop. However they haven't. There was a pause after the U.S. killed a couple of dozen Pakistani troops on the Afghan border but that was all. They have resumed. It seems obvious that at least until the pause there was tacit agreement within the Pakistani government and military concering the drone attacks. In fact Pakistani intelligence probably helped with targeting. However, the issue seems to be taken more seriously now after two drone strikes killed at least 15 people in South

Waziristan. The Pakistani government was quick to deny that it was involved. The government says it was not consulted at all with respect to any recent strikes. The Pakistani government claims that they warned the U.S. to stop carrying out the strikes. The Pakistani ambassador Sherry Rehman said they told the U.S. this on March 9 after strikes that killed 13 people. Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit that there was no question that the drone attacks violated Pakistan' sovereignty. He said:"Pakistan has been using all diplomatic channels to bring an end to the strikes that are damaging our efforts against militancy

and terrorism. Voices are also being raised in the West against these illegal drone strike," But all that has happened is that drone attacks have resumed. Basit did not talk of shooting down the drones as an option. By continuing the attacks the U.S. puts the Pakistan government in an almost impossible position. They must complain about them as a political necessity. However, they are dependent upon the U.S. for aid and have not shown any willingness to really confront the U.S. except by verbiage that makes them look more silly and ineffective by the day. They will pay come the next election.

Pakistan to export wheat, import iron and urea (Online Mar 18, 2012) ISLAMABAD - Minister for Water and Power said that Pakistan would export wheat to Iran on barter system and iron and urea would be imported in return. While chairing the meeting of committee on wheat export issues, he said that wheat would be supplied from the stocks of PASSCO as there is ample stock available at the end of season and new crop is about to arrive in the market. It is pertinent to mention here that ECC had constituted a committee comprising Minister for Water and Power, Minister for Food Security and Research, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and Secretaries from Commerce,

Finance and Food Security and Research to look further into the matter regarding wheat export to Iran. ECC had also directed to find out best possible deals with Iran. As ECC had given hint about exploring the items

that could be imported from Iran, Naveed Qamar seems opted for the option of barter trade of wheat against iron and urea fertilizer that is short in the country these days due to gas shortage. The government is planning to export 0.45 million tons of wheat as the said quantity is approved by ECC. PASCO whereas have a stock of around 1.7 million tons remaining with it at the end of the season. Ministry of National Food Security is also planning to sell 1 million tons wheat stock to private parties as otherwise it would be difficult for PASCO to procure further stocks from the growers.

PML-N rejects president’s assertions ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-N rejected on Saturday the claims made by President Asif Ali Zardari about the government’s achievements and said he was perhaps speaking about some other country. “There was nothing new in Zardari’s speech other than false claims. (The) PPP has delivered nothing to the nation in four years. The president was talking about developments in some other country, and not in Pakistan,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, told newsmen outside the Parliament House after boycotting the president’s speech. Federal Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan slammed the opposition and alleged that through sloganeering and boycott, it had actually tried to catch headlines in the media. Talking to newsmen outside the Parliament House, the minister said at a time when Pakistan People’s Party and its allies were “writing history”, the opposition was doing “politics for drawing media attention and catching headlines”. Chaudhry Nisar said all opposition parties were united and participated in the protest during the president’s speech and termed it a “remarkable achievement”. He said that the PPP coalition partners were equally responsible for the “bad governance and worst situation” prevailing in the country. Replying to a question on the move of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to first announce a boycott of the sitting and

then to attend it, he said the MQM was protesting on the extortion issue only to increase its price tag. The whole nation, he said, knew which party had started extortion in Karachi. The PML-N stalwart accused President Zardari of doing business in the name of reconciliation and said the government allies were receiving their due price for the deal. He expressed surprise that when the common man was suffering from inflation, unemployment and lawlessness, President Zardari was counting the “socalled achievements”. “Pakistan, where we live in, is in a state of misery.” Chaudhry Nisar accused President Zardari of completing the agenda left unfulfilled by Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Justifying the opposition’s strategy of boycotting the president’s speech after raising slogans, he said it would have been a big joke if they had kept listening to the president quietly. Responding to a question about retirement of ISI Director General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the opposition leader said that he was not sad about the retirement, but “a revolutionary party has been orphaned”, obviously referring to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf. Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the president in his speech had given a clear roadmap to resolve people’s problems. When asked to explain the roadmap, she gave a vague reply and said it was based on continuity of parliament, consistency of policies and strengthening

of democratic institutions. “The current parliament has entered its last year. And after completion of its tenure, there would be a smooth transition to the next government through a free, fair and independent election commission. It would happen for the first time in country’s history,” the minister said. She pointed out that it was also for the first time in the country’s history that all major political parties were in power in one way or the other. Some are in power in the centre, she said, while others were enjoying it in provinces. The president, Ms Awan said, had set a new tradition by respecting other’s mandate and providing everyone an opportunity to remain in power. To a question about the PML-N members’ slogans highlighting the issues of poverty, unemployment and price-hike, the minister said all those issues were not new and were mainly provincial subjects. She said the provincial governments shared equal responsibility for such problems. She said the PML-N was ruling the biggest province and in this way they were also protesting against their own government. Replying to another query, Ms Awan said the PPP did no believe in confrontation with the judiciary. “We have rendered sacrifices for the restoration of judiciary and we fully know how to respect it. Nobody should dictate us in this regard,” she said.

An ISI coup in the Pakistan military (By: Najam Sethi | abMusharraf's 18 Mar 2012)The sence to launch a army was consticoup counter mantutionally against Sharif after dated to be an the PM appointed arm of the PakGen Ziauddin Butt istan state. All the as COAS. organs of the The ISI's silent state, in turn, were coup against GHQ supposed to be is problematic. For subservient to the starters, it has executive of the eroded the credibilday. ity and capacity of In time to come, both the DGISI and however, the army COAS. ISI's specthrough the office tacular failures (Beof the COAS n a z i r ' s seized the comassassination, manding heights Mumbai, Raymond the state, of Davis case, missamended the coning persons, Memstitution and subogate, Mehrangate, other Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, right, and Abbottabad, Getordinated institutions to its Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saleem Zardari, own ends. Shehzad case) are Thus, even when elected civilians were billed to be 'the richest generals in the all GHQ's failures simultaneously no nominally in office, the COAS ruled the world' by Time in 1986. Two of them, less than GHQ's loss of over 3000 solroost in all critical areas of domestic Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman and Gen diers to the Pakistani Taliban and the Hameed Gul were in turn DGs-ISI while terrorist attacks on GHQ and Mehran and foreign policy. But something even more sinister has the third, General Fazle Haq, was the Navy Base on account of the ISI's failbeen transforming the civil-military Peshawar Corps Commander/Gover- ure to formulate a proper strategy to nor gatekeeper to Afghanistan. landscape in recent decades. pursue the war against terrorism by disThis is the creeping consolidation of the Three Prime Ministers in the last three tinguishing between friends and foes, have tried, in vain, to control allies and liabilities. decades ISI through its DG from an arms-length intelligence directorate (Interservices the ISI through their constitutional Intelligence Directorate) in the first power to select and appoint the DG-ISI. three decades of independent Pakistan Mohammad Khan Junejo sought to to its metamorphosis in the last three hold DG-ISI General Hameed Gul acdecades as an unaccountable and all- countable and former DG-ISI Gen powerful 'deep state within the state' Akhtar Abdul Rehman for the Ojri that now controls both military strategy Camp explosion in 1978 and was booted out by the COAS Gen Zia ul and civilian national security policy. The unprecedented appointment of a Haq even for harbouring the thought. Bhutto was able to shove Gen Benazir serving DG-ISI as COAS (General Ashfaq Kayani) by President Pervez Gul out of the ISI in 1989 but had to eat pie from COAS Gen Aslam Beg humble Musharraf was the first step in this diwho promoted him from Maj-Gen to Ltrection. and gave him a corps commanGen The second was Kayani's own decision to routinely rotate senior serving ISI of- der's position in Multan. paid her back a year later by They ficers to positions of control in the army and vice-versa, coupled with his insis- using the ISI to mount her ouster via Ishaq Khan and Punjab Chief President tence on handpicking the appointment Minister Nawaz Sharif. Gen Beg and or extension in service of the DG-ISI. new DG-ISI Gen Asad Durrani the Together, they reflect a cold new reality. The ISI has walked into GHQ and hunted as a pair, much like Gen Gul Zia-ul-Haq in 1988 and Gen Gul and seized control of the military. This is a deeply troubling development because and Gen Beg in 1989, to thwart Ms quest for re-election in 1990. Bhutto's it violates the established order of all militaries in democratic societies that Nawaz Sharif eased Gen Durrani out in only after seeing the back of Gen1992 have consciously striven to keep intelligence services at arms length from eral Beg in 1991 and breathed easy after handpicking Gen Javed Nasir ISI chief Lt. Gen. Zaheerul only GHQ because of concerns that soldiers and commanders in the field should not as DG-ISI over the COAS Gen Asif Islam But he lost his job in 1993 Nawaz. get contaminated by cloak and dagger spooks in unmarked cars and buildings. when COAS Gen Abdul Waheed The fact that both the COAS and DGISI by President Ishaq Khan (handpicked That is why Gen Zia kicked DG-ISI Gen have taken extensions in service has Akhtar Abdul Rehman upstairs to over his head) and DG-ISI Gen Javed not gone down well inside the military Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Commit- Ashraf Qazi (handplicked by Gen Wa- and outside. This is a critical point in tee in 1977 instead of giving him com- heed) lined up against him. Pakistan's political history. mand of soldiers on the ground. That is There was no trouble subsequently be- On one hand, civilians are on the same why COAS Gen Asif Nawaz reluctantly tween Ms Bhutto and DG-ISI or COAS page regarding civilian supremacy over brought back DGISI Gen Asad Durrani Waheed and Gen Jehangir Karamat the military, on the deconstruction of the to GHQ in 1992 and sidelined him there mainly because both army chiefs national security state and on regional in Training and Evaluation Dept, and steered clear of political interventions. peace based on interests and not nothat is why COAS Gen Abdul Waheed Sharif subsequently handpicked both tions of friends or enemies. first prematurely retired Gen Durrani the COAS (General Musharraf) and On the other side, the military top brass from service in 1994 and recom- DG-ISI (Gen Ziauddin Butt) and was is lacking credibility than at any time in mended Chief of Staff Gen Jehangir comfortable until he stepped on the history. Meanwhile, the judiciary and Karamat as his COAS successor rather toes of the COAS over the Kargil mis- media want to hold both accountable. adventure. Indeed, if he had under- A Truth and Reconciliation Commission than DG-ISI Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi. That is why the CIA, R&AW, MI6, KGB, stood the nature of the army and ISI is desperately needed to lay the arrayed against him at that groundwork for bringing errant civilians, generals MOSSAD etc remain civilian Intel agencies under full civilian control even time, he would not have tried to sack soldiers and intelligence operators to Musharraf and provoke them. book. Gen though soldiers may be seconded to them or head them occasionally. THE Musharraf, it may be recalled, had lost The ISI must be controlled by parliaof the ISI to the PM but had cun- ment and its internal political wing must control ISI's meteoric rise dates back to the 1980s when it was mandated by Gen- ningly moved Gen Mohammad Aziz, a be abolished. GHQ must obey the orco-planner, from the ISI to the ders of elected civilians. Kargil eral Zia to be the official but secret conduit for tens of billions of dollars of arms post of COS in charge of GHQ. And the civilians should join hands to had also retained Gen Mahmood fashion a new welfare state for the wellHe and funds from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to be used by the Mujahideen Ahmad , a Kargil co-executor, as corps being of the people instead of indulging commander Pindi. Both generals had the khakis in their pursuit of 'national against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Three serving generals of the time were charge of the coup-making Brigade security'. 111. And both united in General

G u r u s a y s Ta l i b a n n e e d t o learn inner peace (18 Mar 2012) An Indian Hindu guru may be the last emissary the Taliban expect, but Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would love to teach inner peace to the world's most notorious Islamist insurgents. Visiting Pakistan for the first time in eight years, he basks in the diplomatic rapprochement that made the trip possible but his dreams of harmony couldn't be further removed from the suffering of millions worldwide. Spry for a man in his mid-50s, dressed in pristine white robes and his hair still ebony, he began the second leg of his three-city Pakistan tour by tossing rose petals into the air cheered on by some of Islamabad's most elegant women. Nominated for the Nobel peace prize and described by Forbes magazine in 2009 as the fifth most powerful person in India, Shankar established the Art of Living Foundation in 1981. It estimates it has 300 million followers. He travels widely and in 2007 took his message of peace and meditation to Iraq, where he urged Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to give peace a chance and was invited to introduce his Art of Living rehabilitation program in prisons. His centres teach breathing practices and techniques to help people from all religious backgrounds overcome the stresses, jealousies and insecurities of modern life to become more focused, happier and healthier. He first visited Pakistan in 2004 and organizers say there are now 5,000 followers - a tiny number in the Muslim country of 174 million known more for sheltering Osama bin Laden and har-

bouring the Taliban than meditation. So does "Guruji", as he's known, think Taliban fighters are ripe for inner peace after battling the Americans for 10 years in Afghanistan and bombing their way through Pakistani cities since 2007? "Definitely! I would love to stretch my hands to Talibans because I would like them to see from a broader perspective the universe," he told AFP at the Art of Living centre in Bani Gala, an upmarket village near Islamabad. "I would like to educate them. There must be something wrong in their way of thinking that says 'only I am going to heaven, everyone else is going to hell.' "I would say that is not possible, you know. So I would like to give them the experience of inner connectivity," Shankar said. He claims to find parallels among extremists jailed in India, but hastens to add that Pakistanis, and not he as an Indian Hindu, would have to be responsible for any similar outreach programme in Pakistan. "When they undergo our breathing exercises and techniques, suddenly their fanaticism drops. They start appreciating diversity," he claimed. His followers in Bani Gala were drawn from the country's urbane, educated and liberal elite who abhor the international stereotype of Pakistan as a font of Islamist terrorism and religious conservatism. Shankar, who visited Lahore on Monday and was scheduled to travel to Karachi on Wednesday, brings greet-

ings from India's 1.2 billion people as the two countries resume peace talks that were stalled by the carnage of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Insurgencies, social and economic problems, corruption and the poor level of education can all be addressed by taking a deep breath, he claims. "Everyone should take a little bit of time, 10 minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, to calm down. Even in the worst scenario they need to calm down and take action in a calm state of mind," he said. But he was preaching to the converted - a welleducated crowd keen to see peace finally overcome the three wars between India and Pakistan. Sitting a few rows further forward, lawyer Natasha Khan dismissed any suggestion that having an Indian spiritualist in town was a problem. "That's a non-issue at this sort of event that he's a Hindu or an Indian or anything. Nobody that I know said anything to me, if there's someone else I don't know about it," she said. Shahnaz Minallah, the Pakistan cochair of Art of Living, suspects the "agencies" - a euphemism for the security services - were behind Shankar's visa being rescinded before and describes his visit as a "living miracle." "We were scared about the PakistanIndia thing and the Hindu element attached to it, whereas it's nothing. It's neutral. It comes from that region but it fits into any tradition," she said.

Sr i La nk a n a nd Pa k is t a ni Int e llige nc e Sc he m e A ga ins t Ee la m Ta m ils (LONDON TBC) - It has come to limelight that the Sri Lankan Intelligence Agency has been relentlessly hatching diabolical plots since long with dark intent against the harmless Eelam Tamils in order that the Eelam Tamils should never have a conducive link with India. It is disheartening to know that the Sri Lankan Government have chosen to our great shock a few knee crooking Eelam Tamils and fielded them in many regions in Europe to implement their dark design. The Sri Lankan Intelligence has come to realise that if cannot with stand or face the occurrences that took place in Geneva. Hence if has started to seek the support of I.S.I, the Intelligence Agency of Pakistan. With the support of the I.S.I so enlisted the Sri Lankan Government is deriving pleasure in involving in many abhorrent activities. From valuable sources it is learnt that I.S.I

of Pakistan is giving effective training to a few traitorous Eelam Tamils to be keen on breeding without break animosity between India and the Sri Lankan Tamils. As a part of their fowl deeds the officers of the Sri Lankan Intelligence Agency in Britain have picked and chosen a few English knowing Eelam Tamils and introduced them to the officers of the I.S.I of Pakistan and instigated them to act against the interest of the Eelam Tamils the theme of Honour. An Eelam Tamil female writer, an agent of K.P (the starch supporter of Sri Lankan Government) and the son of the deceased leader of EROS are a few among the despicable hirelings who have sold their birth right for a bowl of porridge. The sole aim of the Intelligence Agency of Sri Lanka and that of Pakistan is that the Eelam Tamils and India should never come to an amicable settlement nor should they have a healthy relationship.

The Army, the naval Force and the Air force of Sri Lanka have been never doing anything except deriving devilish pleasure in totally annihilating the Tamils the Indigenous people of Eelam. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan is directly involved for the first Time in the act of devastating the Tamils. Fear has grabbed the Eelam Tamils as a few of their flesh of flesh and bone of bones have willingly involved as confederates in these treacherous deeds which add fuel to fire. Sri Lanka is acting with a determined will to subdue the Eelam Tamils and destroy them. Pakistan is keen on defeating India. Enemy’s enemy is a friend. Hence Sri Lanka and Pakistan have become friends. The Intelligence Agency of Sri Lanka and that of Pakistan are bent on butchering the Eelam Tamils and nullifying India, a great peninsula.

Pakistan’s silence over coming apart of Syria (By Tahir Ashrafi) The change is inevitable. It’s matter of time now that Bashar al-Assad bids farewell to his dynastical rule. The crime ravaged in Syria by the incumbent government is strengthening the cause and will of Syrian freedom fighters. The rule of Bashar is practically over. And not surprisingly Iran is rethinking as well over its policy toward Syria. Iran has finally realised that it could no longer ignore the voice of people…echoing change…that now reverberates across the Arab world. No matter how hard Syria tries to camouflage the freedom struggle as an ethnic issue… tussle between Shia and Sunni…the truth is out; that Bashar al-Assad’s regime is no more needed; that his dynastic rule should come to an end; that people have the right to form political parties and run for elections; that democracy without justice and rule of law is a sordid affair. And if Iran does not bend now, its hypocrisy on the issue of Arab Spring will become an open secret: a regime that condemns freedom bashing in Cairo but supports the same in Syria.” These views were expressed by Abdul Ghaffar, director of International Affairs Jamaat-e-Islami, and Furrukh Goindi, a scholar on Middle East affairs, on the talk show Deen-o-Dunya, on Business Plus on Saturday. The silence over Syrian mayhem in Pakistan is painful. How could a country that has always stood firm and explicit on Middle East issues, especially in the wake of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian state, behave cold and stolid. When Muslims are killing their own kiths, when Islam stands weak and frail, the role of Pakistan should have been robust and decisive. The intelligentsia is mum. Government is shunning the business. Ordinary man has no desire to scratch the surface. It is as if the issue has no mean-

ing as far as Muslims are concerned. Do you think, Goindi, that Pakistan could play any role in assuaging the situation in Syria or maybe in bringing around the Muslim leadership from the slumbers of ignorance and prejudice? “Absolutely, If Pakistan could create a nexus with Turkey and Iran, and manages to create a roadmap of transfer of power on the likes of Yemen, as is being envisaged in Arab League, situation could improve tremendously.” Replying to the same question, Ghaffar busted out, blaming the present government for ducking on the issue of Kashmir only to strengthen its rule and to seek American support. “Now that Pakistan is all out to give MFN status to India, I am sure Kashmir issue will cease to exist in our foreign policy books. Pakistan has lost that spirit of Muslim brotherhood. Surprisingly enough, our people are writing on Iran, Cairo and even Yemen but on the issue of Syria there is hardly any systematic or regimented effort to create awareness among the people of Pakistan. Even talk shows have not featured anything. Yours is the only programme perhaps that has gone that far,” he said. Commenting over the role of the West in managing Syria affairs, both the participants agreed that America and its allies are rejecting Basher al Assad’s regime superficially. “In their heart of hearts they support Syrian policies since it goes in the favour of Israel. In almost 40 years, no bullet has been shot on the heights of Bolan. If this regime goes, Israel will be faced with a hostile neighbourhood that could push its Zionistic agenda to the wall. However, knowing too well that the wave of change is unstoppable America has kept its imperialistic power in check and is going cool. This is one of the reasons why for

almost 11 months the world is far from finding any solution to the war in Syria. This is a war waged by peaceful people. Giving it an ethnic hue is a ploy to divide Middle East,” Ghaffar said. Further elaborating on his views over the inevitability of change in Syria, Ghaffar said, “In a war between Allah and His enemies, Allah wins. Every pharaoh had succumbed to his idolism. Now that Bashar is acting as absolute dictator to establish the writ of his government, doomsday is closing on him.” Situation in Syria is appalling. According to UN record more then 8,000 Syrians have been killed by Basher’s military. Women are being raped. Children tortured. In order to strike terror, animals are shot to death. The roads of Homs and Baba Amr are washed after every massacre, while the bodies of the dead Syrians are dumped in holes. Humanitarian assistance is denied to the people. Red Cross pushed to roll back. An absolute anarchy is rampant in the country. It is time that Pakistan gives a clarion call to its Muslim brethrens to tell Syria that enough is enough. Saudi Arabia cannot for long take the cause of peace in the region alone. It needs its supporters from within. It’s time to understand, more so for the Arab leaders, that with the passage of time, it would become difficult for them to rule out democracy. Democracy is perfectly aligned to the Islamic ideology of consultative process and power sharing. Let people decide what they want for themselves. Let them be part of the system and decide the fate of their nation. Leadership does not thrive in vacuum; let’s open up, lest the entire Arab world burns to ashes and Muslims are left with nothing but dead corpses, stinking of its ill deeds.

63 Issue | Zarb-e-Jamhoor e-Newspaper | 18-24 Mar, 2012  

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