US says no direct funding to PPP government

VOH Watch
September 10-16
WASHINGTON, Sep. 13: The United States made it absolutely clear on Friday, days before President Asif Ali Zardari is to meet President Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in New York, that bulk of the money it will provide under the Kerry-Lugar Bill will not go directly to the PPP government, but to specific projects and purposes for which it is intended. Senior journalist, Shaheen Sehbai in a dispatch here said that the US government was still grappling with the issue of a huge trust deficit and would not feel comfortable with aid money getting into the hands of the PPP government despite efforts in Washington to repair and whitewash the image of PPP leaders. US State Department Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, Jacob J. Lew in his briefing told this.Jacob Lew told the briefing: “On the question of aid, there, as any of you who have seen the press releases put out would know, they’re very much anxious to have as much of the assistance as possible flow directly to the Pakistani government. “We made clear that we’re looking at a variety of approaches, that we certainly intend to be supportive of Pakistani ministries where the programmes are ready to accept that support effectively, but that we also needed to look at the provincial level and to work with the traditional NGO community, and it wouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The official made it obvious that instead of providing aid to the government to spend wherever it liked, they would look at the ministry projects, which are ready on a case-to- case basis and also provide direct aid to provinces and NGOs. That is what he meant by saying that “it would not be a one-size-fits-all approach.” Jacob Lew also spoke about his visit to Pakistan in general. “We focused on a number of issues. I think, as you all know, with the Kerry-Lugar programme being worked through now in Congress and the budget process working through, in terms of the appropriations, we’re ready to take the next step and put a detailed programme out there that really goes and specifies what forms of assistance will be provided.This is the latest indication that the U.S. government is still struggling to overcome with its trust deficit symptom and is not willing to give the funds on account of aid directly in the hands of the People’s Party, despite the Pakistani officials in U.S. trying hard for improving the image of the PPP leaders. Geo Tv

Furious Karzai and Holbrooke row over election fraud fears VOH Monitoring desk
Aug 27-Sep02
Hamid Karzai flew into a rage when the US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan raised concerns over alleged election fraud at a meeting in Kabul. Details have emerged of an angry exchange between the country's president and Richard Holbrooke when they met the day after last week’s election. Mr Holbrooke had lunch with Mr Karzai at the presidential palace, and also met with his main rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, at the US embassy on August 21, according to diplomatic sources. The three-hour meeting with Dr Abdullah went smoothly, the sources said, but Mr Karzai became angry when the US envoy - dubbed the “Bulldozer” for his negotiating style in the Balkans - raised concerns about alleged fraud and urged him to accept the results even if he did not win in the first round. “Karzai accused the Americans of trying to push the election into a second round,” said one of the diplomatic sources. “He was furious.” The two men are said to have promptly finished their desserts, and shaken hands, before parting company. A US embassy spokeswoman denied reports that there had been a shouting match, and that Mr Holbrooke had stormed out. But the exchange illustrates the growing tension between the United States and Mr Karzai, who swept to power with American support after a US-led invasion toppled the Taleban government in late 2001.
Since the last presidential election in 2004, US officials have grown increasingly frustrated with corruption in Mr Karzai’s government, and with persistent allegations that some of his key allies, inclduing his half-brother, are involved in the drugs trade. They were also angered in the run-up to last week’s poll by Mr Karzai’s surprise approval of a law that critics say condones marital rape, and his alliances with several notorious warlords, who are also suspected war criminals. They now fear that his allies may have tried to rig last week’s election, undermining the credibility of international efforts to defeat the Taleban and build democracy in Afghanistan. With just over 17 per cent of the results released, Mr Karzai leads Mr Abdullah by 42.3 percent to 33.1 percent, but is still short of the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off after results are finalised next month. Dr Abdullah and other opposition candidates have accused Mr Karzai and his allies of rigging the vote in the south - his main support base - where turnout was severely depleted by Taleban threats and attacks. Mr Karzai’s supporters have already claimed that he won more than 68 per cent of the national vote - even though he won just 55.4 percent in 2004, and the last opinion polls before last week’s election put him on less than 50 per cent. Michael Semple, a former EU official in Afghanistan who was accused of spying and expelled in 2007, said that the disagreement appeared to have been over Mr Holbrooke’s suggestion that it was in Afghanistan’s interests to have a second round run-off. “That’s the point that we understand that Ambassador Holbrooke made; however we also understand that President Karzai disagreed with that fervently,” he said. “And some of his supporters have been deliberately leaking the information about the 68% or 72%, which is why there probably was a battle royale in the presidential palace on the 21st.” Times


Young Japanese urged to vote or risk future

VOH Watch

By Chisa Fujioka
Aug 27-Sep02
Japanese youth face a range of uncertainties as the country heads toward an election, with job prospects dwindling in a downbeat economy and an ageing population coming to bear on their shoulders. However, their concerns largely fall on deaf ears. Student activists worry that politicians do little to address youth concerns because of voter apathy among younger Japanese. “Policies in Japan now are too skewed towards the interests of old people, but that’s because more of them vote,” said Kensuke Harada, a 23-year-old student and founder of ivote, a group trying to boost the youth turnout rate for Sunday’s vote. “If young people voted more, politicians would take more notice of what we have to say,” he said over iced coffee in Shibuya, a shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo which is popular with young people.In the run-up to the election, ivote has hosted parties where 20-somethings mingle with politicians from both ruling and opposition parties over beer and snacks.The group, which does not take political sides, also plans to send text messages to over 1,100 young people on Election Day to remind them to go to the ballot box. A survey by the Mainichi newspaper last week showed 51 per cent of Japanese in their 20s planned to vote, an improvement on the 46 per cent who voted in the last election for parliament’s powerful lower house in 2005. Still, the figure is low when compared with other age groups. The same Mainichi survey showed that 84 per cent of respondents in their 60s planned to vote, while the overall turnout was expected at 74 per cent.Many young voters are disillusioned with politics and doubt whether the opposition Democratic Party can do better than the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in tackling problems such as youth unemployment, a result of companies cutting unskilled workers to cope with a recession.The unemployment rate for Japanese aged 15-24 stood at 8.7 per cent in June compared with 5.2 per cent overall in non-seasonally adjusted terms. “There’s a general feeling of uncertainty about society, of mistrust towards politics and worries about getting a job,” said Ai Yamaguchi of Ring, another non-partisan student group trying to get youth more involved in policy debate. “But young people keep those feelings to themselves and they don’t think about how politics can make things better.” Her group has been trying to change that through activities such as posting footage of student interviews with politicians on the video sharing site YouTube and organising outdoor debates among candidates on policy issues chosen by young people. One recent topic of debate was the pension system, which is creaking under the weight of Japan’s ageing population. Some young people have refused to pay into the system, alarmed by estimates showing the rate of return on their payments will fall to less than half of current levels by the time they retire. While another concern is the rock-bottom birth rate, young people dismissed the Democrats’ plans to distribute money to families with children as missing the point, saying money should be used for longer-term projects such as child care centres. Dailytimes

India Third On Global Female Smoking List
VOH Monitoring
Aug 26-Sep02
NEW DELHI, Aug 28: Indian women are among the worst in the world when it comes to smoking.
According to the latest Tobacco Atlas, the country ranks third in the top 20 female smoking populations across the globe.
Only the US with 2.3 crore female smokers and China with 1.3 crore women smokers are worse off than India in this chart. However, as far as percentage of women smoking is concerned, it is below 20% for India. Among India’s immediate neighbours, only Pakistan figures in this infamous list, but right at the bottom at 20th with around 30 lakh female smokers. Published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, the Atlas makes another serious observation — female smokers in India die an average eight years earlier than their non-smoking peers. According to the Atlas, about 250 million women in the world are daily smokers — 22% being from high resource countries and 9% from low and middle resource countries. Realising the potential of this growing market, the Atlas said the tobacco industry has been marketing cigarettes to women using seductive but false images of vitality, emancipation, slimness, sophistication and sexual allure. Reacting to the report, Dr P C Gupta, director of Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, told TOI that this finding had very serious implications for India. “Even though the percentage prevalence of women smoking in India isn’t that high, the number is huge. In addition to all the harm that tobacco causes to men, women are additionally exposed in a special way because of their reproductive function.” Dr Gupta added that tobacco consumption reduced birth weight of the foetus, decreased their gestational age leading to premature babies, increased the risk of still births and heightened chances of anaemia among adult pregnant women. “The government isn’t focusing on anti-tobacco campaign that specially targets women. Smoking is definitely increasing in young college going women showing that the tobacco industry is targeting them very strongly,” Dr Gupta added. The Atlas said tobacco killed some six million people each year — more than a third of whom will die from cancer — and drained $500 billion annually from global economies. As 25% of smokers die and many more become ill during their most productive years, income loss devastates families and communities. In 2010, 72% of those who die from tobacco related illnesses would be in low- and middle-income countries. By 2030, 83% of these deaths will occur in low and middle-income countries. Unveiled at the Global Cancer Summit on Wednesday, the Atlas said 2.1 million cancer deaths per year will be attributable to tobacco by 2015. “The Atlas is crucial to helping advocates in every nation get the knowledge they need to combat the most preventable global health epidemic,” said John R Seffrin, CEO of American Cancer Society. Breaking News


Standard & Poor’s increased Pakistan's credit rating
VOH Watch
Aug 19-25
Pakistan’s long-term sovereign credit rating was raised one level to B- from CCC+ by Standard & Poor’s with a stable outlook, citing the International Monetary Fund’s additional bailout. “The upgrade reflects Pakistan’s improved external liquidity position, coupled with its successes in implementing corrective policy measures to rectify an unsustainable fiscal trajectory,” S&P said in a statement today. The IMF this month increased Pakistan’s loan package to $11.2 billion, approving an extra $3.2 billion. That prompted Moody’s Investors Service to last week raise its outlook on the South Asian country’s debt ratings to stable from negative. “A narrowing current account deficit, helped by buoyant remittance inflows, and successive disbursals of the IMF and other multilateral loans have reduced the risk of near-term external payment difficulties for Pakistan,” S&P said. In general, Credit is important since individuals and corporations with poor credit will have difficulty finding financing, and will most likely have to pay more due to the risk of default. Geo TV


CIA base in Pak still in use, Predator drones flying from Shamsi: NYT
Voice of Hunza
August 19-25
From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company
formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington’s most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill Al Qaeda’s leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees. The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said. The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments. And it illustrates the resilience of Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, though most people in and outside the company still refer to it as Blackwater. It has grown through government work, even as it attracted criticism and allegations of brutality in Iraq. A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment for this article. The New York Times reported Thursday that the agency hired Blackwater in 2004 as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top Qaeda operatives. In interviews on Thursday, current and former government officials provided new details about Blackwater’s association with the assassination program, which began in 2004 not long after Porter J. Goss took over at the C.I.A. The officials said that the spy agency did not dispatch the Blackwater executives with a “license to kill.” Instead, it ordered the contractors to begin collecting information on the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leaders, carry out surveillance and train for possible missions. “The actual pulling of a trigger in some ways is the easiest part, and the part that requires the least expertise,” said one government official familiar with the canceled C.I.A. program. “It’s everything that leads up to it that’s the meat of the issue.” Any operation to capture or kill militants would have had to have been approved by the C.I.A. director and presented to the White House before it was carried out, the officials said. The agency’s current director, Leon E. Panetta, canceled the program and notified Congress of its existence in an emergency meeting in June. The extent of Blackwater’s business dealings with the C.I.A. has largely been hidden, but its public contract with the State Department to provide private security to American diplomats in Iraq has generated intense scrutiny and controversy. The company lost the job in Iraq this year, after Blackwater guards were involved in shootings in 2007 that left 17 Iraqis dead. It still has other, less prominent State Department work. Five former Blackwater guards have been indicted in federal court on charges related to the 2007 episode. A spokeswoman for Xe did not respond to a request for comment. For its intelligence work, the company’s sprawling headquarters in North Carolina has a special division, known as Blackwater Select. The company’s first major arrangement with the C.I.A. was signed in 2002, with a contract to provide security for the agency’s new station in Kabul, Afghanistan. Blackwater employees assigned to the Predator bases receive training at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to learn how to load Hellfire missiles and laser-guided smart bombs on the drones, according to current and former employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of upsetting the company. The C.I.A. has for several years operated Predator drones out of a remote base in Shamsi, Pakistan, but has secretly added a second site at an air base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, several current and former government and company officials said. The existence of the Predator base in Jalalabad has not previously been reported. Officials said the C.I.A. now conducted most of its Predator missile and bomb strikes on targets in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region from the Jalalabad base, with drones landing or taking off almost hourly. The base in Pakistan is still in use. But officials said that the United States decided to open the Afghanistan operation in part because of the possibility that the Pakistani government, facing growing anti-American sentiment at home, might force the C.I.A. to close the one in Pakistan. Blackwater is not involved in selecting targets or actual strikes. The targets are selected by the C.I.A., and employees at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., pull the trigger remotely. Only a handful of the agency’s employees actually work at the Predator bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the current and former employees said. They said that Blackwater’s direct role in these operations had sometimes led to disputes with the C.I.A. Sometimes when a Predator misses a target, agency employees accuse Blackwater of poor bomb assembly, they said. In one instance last year recounted by the employees, a 500-pound bomb dropped off a Predator before it hit the target, leading to a frantic search for the unexploded bomb in the remote Afghan-Pakistani border region. It was eventually found about 100 yards from the original target. The role of contractors in intelligence work expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, as spy agencies were forced to fill gaps created when their work forces were reduced during the 1990s, after the end of the cold war. More than a quarter of the intelligence community’s current work force is made up of contractors, carrying out missions like intelligence collection and analysis and, until recently, interrogation of terrorist suspects. “There are skills we don’t have in government that we may have an immediate requirement for,” Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who ran the C.I.A. from 2006 until early this year, said during a panel discussion on Thursday on the privatization of intelligence. General Hayden, who succeeded Mr. Goss at the agency, acknowledged that the C.I.A. program continued under his watch, though it was not a priority. He said the program was never prominent during his time at the C.I.A., which was one reason he did not believe that he had to notify Congress. He said it did not involve outside contractors by the time he came in. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who presides over the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the agency should have notified Congress in any event. “Every single intelligence operation and covert action must be briefed to the Congress,” she said. “If they are not, that is a violation of the law.” The Nation


Rich, poor see similar declines in old age

VOH Watch
Aug 11-18
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 (APP): Socioeconomic status seems to make no difference in mental decline after the age of 70, according to new research. The study challenges previous claims that economic status and background have an impact on cognitive functioning among the elderly.
Rates of cognitive decline among people aged 70 and older depended on other factors and were similar across socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups, according to the study conducted by researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers looked at data collected from 6,476 people born before 1924 who took part in the study of Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest. Participants were tested five times between 1993 and 2002 on various memory and cognition tasks, including word recall, subtraction, attention, language and knowledge of current affairs. The researchers found that cognitive decline depended on how active people were earlier in life, whether or not they were widowed or ever married, and how old they were. Other social factors appeared to have little impact. “The most consistent predictors of faster declines in cognitive functioning were being old and being single,” the study authors wrote. “It has been known that cognitive performance at any given age appears to depend on demographic characteristics; the more educated, for instance, perform better,” lead investigator Dr. Arun Karlamangla said in the study, published in the Aug. issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“But though there are differences in the level of performance you start with in your late 60s, this study’s surprise is that the rate of decline in your 70s is the same for every group,” he said.


Outrage at East Jerusalem evictions

VOH Watch
Aug 04-Aug 11
The court decision has defied international protests over Jewish settlement activity in the area [AFP] The United States and the UN have condemned Israel's forcible eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. Washington sent a letter to the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem, stressing the move went against the country's obligations under the so-called "road map" to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. US diplomats said a high-level protest will be communicated to Israel later on Monday. Speaking after the al-Ghawi and al-Hanoun families were evicted on Sunday, Robert Serry, the United Nations special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, said: "I deplore today's totally unacceptable actions by Israel. "These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory. "These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace." The homes from where the Palestinians were evicted would reportedly give way to a hotel project believed to have been sanctioned by Israel. In depth In 1982, Israeli settler organisations began demanding rent from the Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah, who at that point had been living in the neighbourhood for almost 30 years - and when many of the families refused to pay this rent, the first eviction orders were issued. The legal proceedings continued over the years, and in 2006 it was ruled by court that the settler organisations did not have rights to the land, and the Israeli land registration department agreed to revoke the settler associations' ownership. Despite pending appeals and the lack of legal ownership of land in the neighbourhood, the settler organisations sold their property claim in 2008 to an investment company. 'Extremist agenda' The British consulate which, along with other foreign missions, is located in Sheikh Jarrah where the Palestinian families had been living for more than half a century, said it was "appalled". The consulate said in a statement: "The Israelis' claim that the imposition of extremist Jewish settlers into this ancient Arab neighbourhood is a matter for the courts is unacceptable. "These actions are incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace. "We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda." Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said: "Tonight, while these new settlers from abroad will be accommodating themselves and their belongings in these Palestinian houses, 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep. "If the Israeli prime minister continues with settlement activities, he will undermine the efforts to revive the peace process." 'Civil dispute' But Yakir Segev, a member of Jerusalem's municipal council, told Al Jazeera: "These are not actions made by Israel or the Israeli government. This is a matter of the court. "It is a civil dispute between Palestinian families and those of Israeli settlers, regarding who is the rightful owner of this property - Israeli law is the only law we are obliged to obey. "This is not part of an Israeli consipiracy ..The court decided that the Arab families are not the rightful owners of the property and this is why they had to be evicted. "Jerusalem is one united city, in the same way that Arabs can purchase houses and land in the west part of Jerusalem, it's the same for Jews." The eviction on Sunday comes amid international calls for Israel to halt settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land. Aljazeera TV net work


Are we going for a change


July 27-Aug 03
Are we going for a change? This question has been reverberating in the minds of many in the political circles in the wake of increasing reports of conflict at the top. Not only are the two major political groups in a state of covert war, but within the ruling PPP too dissensions have been increasing. Even Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani does not see eye to eye with President Zardari on some of the important issues. He has been resenting the fact that instead of him being the Chief Executive, it being a parliamentary system, President Zardari had been taking important decisions. This has resulted in an undeclared tug of war between the two most important officials in the country, the head of state and the head of the government. Prime Minister Gilani has successfully asserted himself in two cases in recent weeks, one on the appointment of a DMG officer as ambassador to France which he turned down, and the other on the issue of appointments and promotions of officials in the federal government departments. He retrieved his powers as the chief executive thus rendering the placement bureau at the President House ineffective. The Prime Minister has differences with the President on the issue of Local Bodies too. He wants the local bodies to be dissolved and their heads to be replaced by government appointed bureaucrats, while the President, possibly to appease MQM leader Altaf Hussain, wants the local bodies to continue at least till the end of August and be headed by nominated public figures instead of bureaucrats. The case of Sherry Rehman is also said to have been causing a lot of heart burning on both sides; Prime Minister Gilani wants to have Sherry back in the cabinet while the President is said to be opposed to that. He believes Sherry Rehman jumped from the boat thinking that it was sinking. Now she should not be taken back. The Gilani group, however, regards Sherry very highly due to her closeness to Benazir Bhutto Shaheed. They feel that Sherry Rehman's resignation has been a loss to the party and to the government. She was a close aide of BB and an asset for the government. But the President, it is said, feels that she had become too ambitious. Then another PPP leader Khurshid Shah from Sindh has propped up his own group within the party whose members do not make any secret of their differences with the President and party Co-Chairperson. The latter is said to have alerted some of his trusted partymen to keep an eye on Khurshid Shah. Makhdoom Amin Fahim is also said to be on PM's side. With the Prime Minister Gilani and Khurshid Shah groups uneasy with the President and Nahid Khan, Safdar Abbasi, already alienated with him, President Zardari is getting isolated in his own party. That perhaps explains the active interest being taken by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the party affairs and reports that Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari is also going to join active politics. An important element in the disillusionment of the ordinary party workers with the leadership is that most of them feel that they have failed to deliver. The people at large too have been feeling disappointed with long hours of load shedding, price hike and the poor law and order situation. However, nobody in the People’s Party had anticipated the violent protests witnessed in the Punjab over power crisis. The burning of a train and the extensive damage to property came as rude shock to the government. Some of the ruling party members have gone to the extent of accusing the PML-N members to be behind the violence to embarrass the government. That brings one to the ongoing covert conflict between the two big parties. In the light of these accusations the recent visit of President Zardari to Raiwind and his meeting with Nawaz Sharif is being looked upon as damage control effort, though the response from the other side has not been very optimistic. The present equilibrium between the two major groups seems to have been disturbed. Is it an indication of a change in the coming months? Magtheweekly


Rule of Law Restored

By: Khalid Jawed Khan
July 27-Aug 03
LAHORE Aug. 02: The invalidation of the emergency proclamation by the Supreme Court will have no bearing on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) as it was issued before the Nov 3, 2007, order, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Saturday. Speaking at a ‘Meet the Press’ event at the Lahore Press Club, he said legal experts were entitled to their opinions, but the NRO had been promulgated before Nov 3. Highlighting PPP’s struggle against dictatorial regimes, he said that the Supreme Court judgment would strengthen democracy, adding that in the light of the verdict, the government would review 37 ordinances passed after the declaration of emergency by Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Our Staff Reporter in Islamabad adds: Sources in the ministry of parliamentary affairs said the government, which was considering getting NRO promulgated in Oct 2007 and some other ordinances approved by parliament, would redouble its efforts to do so within the time stipulated by the apex court.
These ordinances have either lapsed or need to be ratified by parliament, sources in the ministry said. Meanwhile, registrar of the Supreme Court Dr Faqir Hussain sent a certified copy of the apex court judgment in the PCO judges’ case to the ministry of parliamentary affairs for implementation of the court directives.


Young Muslims discuss global issues
LONDON, Aug 01 (APP)-The inaugural Mosaic International Summer School held in the UK brought together more than eighty Muslim delegates aged 20 to 40 years old from countries ranging from Bahrain and Pakistan to Jordan and Indonesia.They gathered to discuss leadership, social and environmental issues with the organisers hoping that the group of twenty to forty year olds will be inspired to become global leaders.The programme included a series of seminars, debates at Cambridge University on the theme of inspiring leadership in the 21st century.
Contributors came from charities as well as British Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life. Explaining the background of the event, John O’Brien, Managing Director Mosaic, said: “Mosaic was set up eighteen months ago by the Prince of Wales who expressed two concerns that he was hoping could be addressed by the initiative. “The first was that within the United Kingdom it was to address the challenges faced by many young Muslims and the plight they have in our inner cities and towns. “The second issue was to do with the misunderstanding that has arisen between the Western world and the Islamic world and that has grown over the years but it’s something the Prince has been concerned about over many years previously. “What this summer school was able to do was really bring young leaders together that could look at some of the issues that are common to all of us, be it the environment and the climate change, the need to get enterprise to address poverty and things of that kind, and this summer school has reallyachieved that in the last two weeks.” The second week saw the delegates divided into smaller groups to visit projects around the UK which bring to life all that was discussed in the first week. Not only did the delegates get to share experiences, but they were also able to witness the lives of British Muslims through eyewitness accounts and the work of artists in the UK. Pakistani delegate Maliha Ahmed spoke of her experience and said: “It’s been an incredible experience, very eye opening we got to know a lot from all the other countries delegates and sitting down and discussing issues that affect the Muslim world. “It has been amazing because as you can imagine there is a lot of Islam phobia and it is very difficult to go out in the streets and say you are a Muslim with pride, but over here it felt wonderful to be excepted by each and every individual as a Muslim and being proud of it, and then talking about the issues that affect us today and how we can handle these issues in a positive manner so it was incredible. “We had a media workshop where we heard how negativity in the media can be changed into a positive way if we use the media affectively, and it was a great eye opener in that sense and then there was the workshop we had with Peter Sanders the photographer. “He had his work the art of integration and that was beautiful. It was his photo essays of British Muslims living in Britain and contributing to society, everyday British Muslims and he captured them so beautifully that really touched my heart.” On the final day Friday of the International summer school the delegates gathered together at Queen Mary University in London to report back on what they have learnt throughout their fortnight in the UK. The meeting heard personal testimonies of what they had experienced on their study visits and the impact it had made on them. app

North Korea helping Myanmar build atomic bomb in 5 next years
VOH Monitoring Report
July 27-Aug 03
SYDNEY Aug 02: North Korea is helping Myanmar build a secret nuclear reactor and plutonium extraction plant to build an atomic bomb within five years, a report said on Saturday, citing the evidence of defectors. The report says Myanmar defectors tell Australians of nuclear plans. The nuclear complex is hidden inside a mountain at Naung Laing, in Myanmar’s north, and runs parallel to a civil reactor being built at another site by Russia, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The revelations come just weeks after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concerns that Pyongyang was transferring weapons and nuclear technology to fellow pariah state Myanmar. Defectors codenamed Moe Jo and Tin Min reportedly told Australian investigator Desmond Ball the military junta has nuclear ambitions that far exceed its official line. “They say it’s to produce medical isotopes for health purposes in hospitals,” Ball said Tin Min told him, talking about the prospect of a Myanmar nuclear programme. “How many hospitals in Burma have nuclear science?” Tin Min allegedly said, referring to Myanmar by its former name. “Burma can barely get electricity up and running. It’s a nonsense.” Giving an account of the men’s testimony in the Herald, Ball said they “claim to know the regime’s plans” and that a nuclear-armed Myanmar was a “genuine possibility”. “In the event that the testimony of the defectors are proved, the alleged secret reactor could be capable of being operational and producing one bomb a year, every year, after 2014,” Ball, a strategic studies professor from the Australian National University, wrote in the newspaper. Moe Jo, a former army officer, allegedly told Ball he was trained for a 1,000-man “nuclear battalion” and that Myanmar had provided yellowcake uranium to North Korea and Iran. “He said that the army planned a plutonium reprocessing system and that Russian experts were on site to show how it was done,” Ball wrote. Moe Jo said part of the army’s nuclear battalion was stationed in a local village to work on a weapon, and a secret operations centre was hidden in the Setkhaya Mountains, according to Ball. “(It was) a set up including engineers, artillery and communications to act as a command and control centre for the nuclear weapons programme,” wrote Ball. Tin Min was said to have been a bookkeeper for Tay Za, a close associate of the junta’s head General Than Shwe, and told Ball in 2004 he had paid a construction company to build a tunnel in the Naung Laing mountain “wide enough for two trucks to pass each other”. According to the report, Tin Min said Za negotiated nuclear contracts with Russia and North Korea and arranged the collection and transport, at night and by river, of containers of equipment from North Korean boats in Yangon’s port. Tin Min reportedly said Za told him the junta knew it could not compete with neighbouring Thailand on conventional weapons, but wanted to “play power like North Korea”. “They hope to combine nuclear and air defence missiles,” Za said, according to Tin Min. afp

Budget shortfall threatens UN’s ability to feed millions worldwide
VOH Monitoring Report
July 27- Aug 03
UNITED NATIONS, July 31 (APP)- Millions of hungry people around the world will not receive food aid from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) due to a “dangerous and unprecedented” $3 billion budget shortfall this year, the head of the agency has warned. WFP says it is hoping to reach 108 million people in 74 countries this year with food aid, but it expects to receive only $3.7 billion of the $6.7 billion needed for 2009. “We are actively cutting $3 billion of our programme “ which means a reduction in rations and programmes throughout the world, including those to the world’s most vulnerable people,” WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran told reporters in Washington on Wednesday, ahead of meetings at the White House.In Bangladesh, for example, the agency sought to feed 5 million people this year, but must now cut back to reaching only 1.4 million, with a school feeding programme only feeding 70,000 children out of the original target of 300,000. Ms. Sheeran welcomed the recent $20 billion pledge to boost global food security made by the so-called Group of Eight (G8) nations, which shows the industrialized world “takes the food security issue seriously.” But she cautioned that “we must also keep pace with growing emergency needs. The problem is not all about agricultural yields; the challenge is people cannot get access to food “ whether because of poor infrastructure or because they can’t afford it.” The foodcrisis is still raging in the developing world, where high food prices are exacerbated by the impact of the current financial crisis, WFP said. Data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that in most developing countries, food prices are higher today than they were one year ago, at the height of the food crisis. The WFP head was in the US capital to urge policy-makers to keep urgent hunger needs as a high priority as they find long-term solutions to food security. She also called for the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) gathering in Pittsburgh, United States, to “take action not only on the financial crisis, but on hunger.”APP

Diamer Bhasha Dam Project could not start this year

VOH Monitoring Report

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Water Kamal Majidullah on Friday vehemently opposed the construction of $11.8 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam in a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), chaired by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali. Punjab with the backing of newly emerged all-powerful judiciary would like to make most of their clout for rushing through the provincially contentious projects, no matter even if they are the legacy of dictator Musharraf’s regime, but the advisor came down heavily on the decision to construct the dam, arguing the country had just water of 106 million acre feet (MAF) and the government should go for the dam only when the country had 142 million acre feet of water. Kamal also objected to the location of the dam, saying it should be located somewhere else where the land was used for crops cultivation. “We need the dam around where we can improve the water level of the land, but crops cannot be cultivated in the area of the proposed dam.” He argued the provinces were not being taken on board on the issue. He also opposed the construction of dams, saying for a long time no dams had been constructed in the US and India, too, discouraged it. He advised the government should construct dams along the barrages. Keeping in view the objections raised by the adviser on water issues and Sindh representatives, the planning commission deputy chairman constituted a committee to look into the water availability and hydel prices issue. The committee, consisting of PARC chairman, member (water) Wapda, ministry of food & agriculture secretary, member (energy) planning commission and one representative from each province, would submit a report on the availability of water within 2-3 weeks. The News

Government Plans to generate 1988 MW for emergency on rental basis
VoH Watch

ISLAMABAD July 28: In order to overcome power shortfall, government has planned to buy 1988 MW on emergency basis till the end of December, 2009, sources said. "Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday informed the Cabinet Committee on Power Crisis that about eleven projects of rental power plants would be completed by the end of the year, thus able to support required demand of power in the country". These proposed rental power plants are in Faisalabad (generates 150MW run by oil feul) and Guddu Power project (with a capacity to generate 110MW and gas-based)would be completed by August and September 2009 respectively. While Karkey Karachi project and Atiana power generation project,both uses oil as a fuel would be completed by November and December 2009 respectively. He also informed that minimum efficiency requirements are 30 percent on oil and 33 percent on gas, while minimum annual availability requirements are 85 percent on oil and 92 percent on gas. Sources further informed that the minister explained to the meeting about reasons for tariff variation and said projects were located at different sites as per system requirements.
Projects have different fuel consumption and different fuels and variations in project costs due to difference in technology and age of the machinery. the minister said the government also planned and carried out several measures to curtail the demand for electricity. These measures included public awareness campaign through media, introduction of day light saving time, staggering of industrial holidays, interaction with industries for reduction of load during peak hours especially that of steel furnaces. The minister expressed the hope that the country would be able to get rid of load shedding permanently by end of this year and also take appropriate measures to meet the power demand by 2015 and 2025. Though, the proposal is a good initiative but there are some other factors to see on real grounds. Instead of spending on the renting of power plants which seems a total waste government can utilized in settling overdue bills of the Independent Power Producers, which are generating capacity in order to meet the current power shortfall. Nevertheless, because of tight cash flow problems resulted from constant delays in payment by various government departments, these producers have compelled to shut their power plants; a great problem for the country's economy and a source of disturbance in society. Since in current scenario, the issue does not imply for lack of capacity but lack of funds, the proposed RPPs will hardly address the demand. There for government should pay the dues of Independent Power Producers to restore their production. Courtesy D.times

Trade Policy analysis

VOH Watch
The government announced a boring trade policy for 2009-10 here on Monday. According to the details government has created many incentives for foreign investors i.e provide insurance cover to visiting foreign buyers to come to the country, with a target growth rate of 6 percent while export target down by fourteen persent set for current fiscal year.
Conscious efforts have also been made to promote country's exports like fund to avoid mark up rate growth; an export investment support fund; a technology, skill and management improvement fund; a special fund for the light engineering sector; and a services export development fund. Moreover, an inland freight subsidy on the export of seven types of products would be available, but announced a ban on the import of vaccines from India. Other major incentives that mostly are related to upper class breed include:duty free import of customized cars up to 1,350CC allowed for disabled people, duty free import of one used motorized wheelchair to be allowed, Import of used computer components allowed, 25% subsidy for brand development activities on surgical instruments, sports goods, cutlery sector and 25% freight subsidy on export on ilve seafood products by an aeroplane.
The policy may be the product of many personnel who have taken part in formulation of trade policy for the year like adviser to Prime minister as a primary character . But for my strange, it resembles much to a policy devised for a bank. He is no doubt an effective banker but may not be an effective economist. Though no one can be denial of foreign investment but this should not be at the cost of public misery. There are much things common between Shoukat Aziz and Shoukat Tareen as the polices itself implies. He had reduced budget deficit in his tenure which back fired and caused to grow imbalance of foreign payments and poverty. The new policy will not able to address the many problems they had expected.

Financing for poorer countries key to securing new climate deal says a top UN official

Special Report

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 (APP): “Sealing the deal” on a climate change pact December in Copenhagen, Denmark hinges on securing the finance needed to help developing countries tackle global warming, the top UN climate change official says. With the negotiations expected to setlled down at the end of the year in the Danish capital on a new treaty on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, “I don’t think that there will be an agreement in Copenhagen with out significant financial resources for both mitigation and adaptation,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on ClimateChange. Developing nations are experiencing the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and incidents of drought, he told UN Radio on Sunday. But, the official added, they are also focusing on boosting their economic growth to pull themselves out of poverty, requiring financial help to acquire “green” technology.Countries are currently mulling over a 200-page text, which “one would almost say unmanageable,” that must now be pared down to ensure that the main elements of the agreement are included, he said. De Boer voiced optimism that an agreement will be reached in Copenhagen, noting that “the international community has been shocked by the messages coming from the scientific community,” with there being a “strong willingness to act on this issue.” Currently in China, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pressed its leaders to use its position as a global power to ensure the Copenhagen talks are a success. “Major emerging economies, including China, have taken great strides. I am impressed by China’s efforts. In the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, for example, remarkable progress is already being made. I urge you to build on this progress, including through energy and carbon intensity targets,” he said in Beijing. “Strong signals from China on mitigation actions announced before Copenhagen will help push the negotiating process forward. They can also direct responsibility to other key countries to do more.”
Ban has also scheduled a summit of world leaders at UN Headquarters in New York on 22 Sep. to try to accelerate momentum towards obtaining a deal in December.( app)

National sovereignty, stability, security
China and Pak firmly support each other

says Zhou Gang
VOH Watch

Islamabad July 26: Special Envoy of the Chinese government, Mr. Zhou Gang said here Saturday that his country and Pakistan fully and firmly support each other’s national sovereignty, stability, integrity and security. He was talking to senior media persons after his meeting with the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Salman Bashir at the Foreign Office. The Chinese Special Envoy said, during his meeting with the Foreign Secretary, both sides reviewed most cordial and close cooperative relations existing between China and Pakistan. They agreed that there was still scope for further deepening and expanding mutual cooperation in various fields.
Mr. Zhou Gang said, he was visiting Islamabad to convey appreciation of the Chinese gvernment and people for the government and people of Pakistan for their full and firm support to his country on the recent riots in Xinjiang. China is highly thankful to Pakistan for taking principled stand in line with the fact that “ Xinjiang is integral part of People’s Republic of China”. “ Pakistan believes that no foreign country, nor any entity had right to interfere in the internal affairs of China”. He said, China and Pakistan are both committed to maintaining peace, security and stability for the sake of development and progress of their people. He said Pakistan and China are strategic partners and they are determined to further strengthen their strategic partnership. “ The two countries have developed excellent relations in both bilateral and multilateral context”, he added.
He pointed out that friendship between the two countries was not merely confined to the twogovernment but it also rooted in their people.“ The two countries believe that development and progress of one is also beneficial for the other,” he said. He also pointed out that other Muslim countries, OIC members, had supported China on the question of recent happening in Xinjiang, “ The Muslim World and China share approaches to vital issues. They have similar tasks before them. Referring to the action of the Chinese government to quell the 5 July riots in Xinjiang, the Special Envoy said there was no option but to ensure security solidarity and unity of China. Giving details of the recent riots in Xinjiang he said separatists abetted and supported from outside China were responsible for the sad incident that claimed lives of the people and caused damage to property. “Anti-Chinese elements who are not in accord with China’s progress have been supporting separatists in Xinjiang”. It is responsibility of the Chinese government to maintain unity and order, he said.
Mr. Zhou Gang said his country supports Pakistan’s efforts to curb extremism and terrorism. To a question he said Pakistan and China have developed a dependable mechanism for the sharing of intelligence regarding extremist and terrorist elements. When asked about China’s stance over Indian ambition for a permanent seat on UN Security Council, Mr. Zhou Gang said, “ my country supports demand of the developing countries for effective representation in the Security Council. “ However it is for the majority of the developing nations to decide as to who would represent them”. (111BN)

US university to help develop IMU faculty

Monitoring Report

ISLAMABAD July25 : Colorado University will work very closely with the proposed Islamabad Media University (IMU) for its faculty development on a 10-year programme basis.Colorado University (CU) is a state-funded university of the US. Thus, it will be a government-to government collaboration and IMU is planning to start its short courses within next two months with the assistance of the CU. This was the outcome of a meeting between Federal Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani and a delegation of Colorado University.
Mr Durrani said the university would be an excellent seat of learning offering education in masscommunication, journalism, drama, music, graphics/animations and performing arts to students, journalists and media persons. Minister of State for Information Tariq Azeem talking to Dawn claimed that as a result of an ‘open media policy’ dozens of new media channels, newspapers and radio stations had sprung up in a short span of time. In this situation, he said, the need for a media university was more significant since there was no dedicated educational institute to provide media education at diploma, graduate and postgraduate levels while the journalist community and mass communication personnel were finding it difficult to seek admissions to foreign universities due to high cost of media education and the entry criteria, etc.
The IMU will be the regional hub of education in the field of media and cater to the needs for trained manpower for media in the region. Short, mid and long-term strategies of media education will be launched to cater to the ever growing and changing needs of media. He said the government was committed to extending all-out support to the project to make it a success. The degree classes are expected to start next year. The work on a purpose-built campus shall start within this year.

Posted by Shamsuddin Muhammad on Sunday


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Discerning social Change in Gilgit-Baltistan

Discerning social Change in Gilgit-Baltistan
Reflecting socio-economic, administrative and cultural impulses in regional periphery

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Mission Statement & Weekly VoH Publishing team

Voice of Voiceless

The blog aims to disseminate the accurate regional information without consideration of race, color, ethnicity, religion and ideology to the valuable readers across the globe. We promise to abide with the moral and professional ethics of citizen journalism through this medium of communication. The voiceless masses of this one of the most beautiful places on earth, situated in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan experience hard times due to continuous natural and man made disasters which have left them at surviving stage. Shortly speaking, in a short span of time, Hunza valley has embraces a steady socio-economic and ecological development making it self an authentic book to read about or take a model for rest of far flung valleys bordering Chines Sinkiang province in the extreme north of the country. The haphazard material development in this comparatively small area has also served to create various socio-economic and ethical problems which ultimately served to shake the fabrics of very roots and foundations of culture and civility among dwellers. On geo-political front, analysts find a very little say of a common man in the major decisions related to regional socio-economic development, violation of meritocracy by mafias in political parties, pressure groups which safe guard their own interests, a unbridled bureaucracy, corrupt regimes that patronizing nepotism or favoritism and who wield powers in Gilgit, the main hub and capital of Gilgit-Baltistan. Rapid increase in expenditures ranging from general commodity price hikes to transportation has left no option or time for people to think on other issues.
The so called Economic-Recession, unequal distribution of wealth, concentration of opportunities towards certain beings, lack of social responsiveness and transparency in government sector and no check and balance on private sector has brought its ugly implication in terms of high unemployment, depression among the youngsters, anxiety and hatred towards system of governance.
We vow to bring fore the issues of common man at grass root level, strive to highlight irregularities in government sector and flaws in public policy and finance in a democratic way. We shall continue to give our opinion on issues of importance and determine to prove a viable platform to have a positive role for public welfare, inter-communal harmony, integrity and social justice.
Amid such a situation when even the survival of country is on stake and is defamed due to continual terrorist incidents throughout the our county, we may pray for a peaceful and prosperous future of the nation. May Lord save the peaceful Gilgit-Baltistan region from the evil designs of devils in human form.

The blog has been developed and upgrading by the efforts of the following dedicated volunteers.

Board of Editors
Editor: Shamsuddin Muhammad

Co-editor: Inam Karim

Reporting Team
Karachi: Sartaj Karim

Hunza: Naeem Hamoon

Gilgit: Aslam Shah


Islamabad: Ikramullah Baig

Voice of the voiceless!

The blog is a venture with exclusive news updates, unbiased analysis and opinion on historical, cultural, ecological, socio-economic, geopolitical and administrative issues and events occurring in country in general and the region particular. It would serve as a portfolio of credible information retained first hand from own and secondary reliable electronic and print media sources and aspire to become a powerful voice for a common man. We are committed to adhere with the professional ethics of citizen journalism, a new trend to shackle the chains of excessive curb over dissemination of reality either for any cause in the name of so-called sensor, with maximum possible accuracy and least deviation while delivering information to show the real side of picture of events so that our valuable readers will have an alternative portal to know what developments are going on various levels, particularly backward areas like that of Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan, Azad Jamu and Kahsmir, Tribal areas etc., across the country. One can easily discern a great social change in terms of attitudes, perceptions both in individual and society; values and reaction to the variables in daily life patterns among the dwellers of the comparatively backwards areas like Gilgit-Baltistan, a deprived region of its fundamental rights for more than six decades of its liberation from colonial yolk. In a quest to voice over issues of vital importance, keeping closer to circle of concern, Hunza, a name famous for its beauty and rich cultural heritage has been selected to represent as a case to further the cause and issues of the rest of the region. Virtually, the region especially Hunza-Nagar retained a rapid development with a short span of time after remaining isolated for centuries to out side world. The blog also aims focus largely to identify core areas from on bottom or grass root level to the top. Keeping due consideration of inter-religious harmony, tolerance, respecting pluralism, diversity, mutual respect, democracy, equal opportunity and other aspects of human rights and professional values of journalism, the blog will serve as a binding force and medium of voice of the voiceless people of the area with reference to Gilgit-Baltistan region.

The idea of creation of this blog came into my mind during a visit after spending few years of career at Karachi, capital of Southern province to the region. While traveling from south pole of the country to north, I experienced many new changes nearly in all aspects of life explicit in urban areas and implicit in rural belts: people have opted to modern technology, availed faster means of communication; task centered behavior, selfishness, following short-cuts, chase of wealth and more opportunities in their career and many more that made their lives much more easier but crazier than before. Nevertheless, the scene suddenly turned bit dim when I entered the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. I could not believe my eyes that this was the Gilgit I saw four years ago. Many things, except the faces were utterly unchanged formats primitive outlook. The Chinese bridge that linked Danyore and Gilgit and a main source of transportation was no more. Few people told me that few journalists have lost their lives in lethal road accident due to lack of arrangements on part of concerned authority to avoid the incident. Karakorum High Way (KKH), one of the highest truck able route and so-called eighth wonder in the world is under construction and many places portray nothing but a passage through a rough stony pasture. It took nearly twenty four hours from Rawalpindi to reach after an exhaustive journey to Hunza, my home town, compared to nineteen hours in past. The scenario seemed worse in Hunza, my home town which remained unchanged for last four years except a drastic decline in standard of living of more than fifty percent of the population. One may think that people have replaced muddy homes with cement ones but that are not the real yardstick of measurement of both mental and material development. Infrastructure, fixtures, telecommunication systems were largely depreciated to their estimated life coupled with inappropriate number of personnel required in educational, administrative and health institutions. The so-called economic meltdown that started from American giant Leman soon took the world into its tyrant claws, shaking many stable economies of the world including the rural areas of developing states- a big example of negligence and subjugation by the rulers of respective countries where people live not above the level of animals. Apart from the allegations on policy makers of industrialized nations having economic interest only, the poor, irrational, incompetent, self-centered and corrupt leadership in Pakistan like other third world countries where immature economies spends it larger portion of budget expenditure on defense could not resist the negative consequences of economic crisis in terms of high rate of unemployment, recession, right or down sizing, price hikes, violation of consumer rights and so on. Hunza-Nagar, like other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan was no exception. The smiling faces that greeted us once warmly few years ago turned unhappy for the crisis brought its ugly implication on the daily life pattern of an individual thus sucking down the unique attributes of population: courtesy, generosity and hospitality. Having a so-called high rate of literacy in the country unfortunately, the region is facing many problems ranging from health to drinking water and energy sector. To many, it was because of lack of geo-political awareness and excessive tendency towards NGO culture where people little bother to beg their rights from the states besides emphasis on duties. Historical chronicles vindicate that the region remained in isolation for many centuries due to a specific location and lack of access to out side world. Many dynasties ruled the area that hardly accepted change in a traditionally sophisticated feudal based society. The wheel of transition continued to move and finally the area got librated through a mutiny with the help of indigenous population from the clutches of Dogra subjugation. Later, the area was affiliated with Pakistan vide a secret treaty called Karachi Treatise as defacto part, unconditionally. Gilgit-Baltistan region got on real terms an impetus to grow from zero level with the visit of three icons of development: Aga Khan, President Ayub Khan and Z.A.Bhutto- a historic event of its nature with long standing implications on live of the people of the region.The area could hardly observed any impulse for more than half dozen years of affiliation with Pakistan when Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan (3rd) first time introduced Diamond Jubilee Schools network during mid fifties in the region. A real phase of development gain impetus when Shah Karim Alhusaini, Aga Khan (fourth) stepped in the region, a population with miserable conditions in 1960. He initiated many new projects in different aspect of life, strengthening the existing educational network under the umbrella of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for the betterment and uplift standard of living of masses lived under poverty line. Aga Khan Development Network in collaboration with donor agencies, with a view to bring social change from grass roots level, initiated rural support programme and other services for less-privileged societies in the region. In simple words, initial projects were stretched to new areas under AKDN umbrella ranging from self-entrepreneurship to planning and building services. These development programmes served a catalyst for a common man who, earlier was confine to a certain limit where facilities and perks were confined to a specific creed, definitely a big change in society led to process of decline of so-called nobility. By, 1974, Z.A.Bhutto, chief of Pakistan Peoples Party and his cabinet undertook a disintegrated country following the fall of Dhaka, albeit eliminating princely status of numerous states gave them democratic structures, initiated socio-economic, political and administrative reforms in civil services cadres under 1973 constitution of Pakistan. These reforms opened a path for further reforms in tribal and affiliated princely states, mostly in mountain regions. Elders assert, by 1976, when Bhutto abolished the princely status of the units and replaced the princely flag with that of the country declared region formally its de-fecto part. The new development allowed for the first time a limited right of franchise and representation in a parallel council governed from capital. He in collaboration with international donor agencies like UNICEF and World Food Programme helped ensure provision of basic necessities like food to indigenous population still in poor conditions. He gave word to poor and enables to build his destiny. The facility fell a prey of Zia-ul-Haq who abolished the programme to benefit his favorite breed. He altered such programmes to facilitate Mujahideen busy fighting Afghan war against Soviet invasion on behalf of American assistance. By, 1988, before the withdrawal of USSR, Zia regime played a dirty game: as an integral strategy to get parallel success, he supported a breed of militants to eliminate all those against his faith in Gilgit-Baltistan. Unfortunately, the indigenous people could not understand his nefarious designs under the veil of religion that had to sustain his regime using divide and rule tactic and nothing to do with public welfare fell a prey of communal discord. Thousands of innocent people were brutally killed without a reason from both sides and this in turn sowed the seeds of sectarianism thus introducing a Kalashnikov culture in this region. On country’s political front, frequent interventions of military in politics in the wake of undemocratic moves of leadership, double standard attitude of bureaucracy and excessive influence of establishment forces harmed political evolution during last sixty two years of country's history. A finest dictatorship is considered worse than a worse democracy for it largely overlook the opinion of masses. The undemocratic regimes since 1952 onwards in general and during dictators’ regimes left people with no option but to support immature, corrupt and unable leadership confined to their self interests coupled with narrow vision. On global front, with the withdrawal of USSR from Afghanistan, American administration started to shift its strategy of dependency and support for Pakistan especially that to check movement and expansion of communist philosophy, an anxiety among the then US policy planners. Political front once again passed through a new change in 1999 when military took over in October 1999. Numerous Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), both national and international rapport delivered remarkable work since 1990s to 2004 in many sectors like education, health, cultural preservation, design and building.

History repeated itself, but in a new form under different circumstances after cold war, when terrorists attacked twin towers of World Trade Centre, an icon of prestige and glory of America killing thousands of innocent people as a response to US policies inviting a fresh hostility between US and Islamist groups or in other words initiated an open conflict between two countering forces. To some, hidden forces worked behind the incident: Muslims thought it was a Judaist elements while to Europe and US a strike of Islamist elements; even the then Bush administration alleged Islamist groups behind this nefarious act to initiate an open armed struggle to defy its policies and interests. The September 11 incident served a cause to create sufferings for the Muslim communities residing in America and Europe. Being a sponsoring source of Jihadist elements, Pakistan was in real trouble as it was asked either ally the US or ready to go into stone age. Consequently, Pervez Musharraf took U-turn in state policy against billions of dollars as assistance. Once again, US dependency on Pakistan after Afghan war, in an endless war against an invisible enemy in terms of Osama started, leading farmer to think to gain control over natural resources in Afghanistan and Central Asian states. As a state, Pakistan endured many hardships, mostly from inside elements, Majority of our political leadership, for instance is largely nurtured under the aegis of military establishments and always ready to achieve their own interest lest it comes to compromise on national matters, evident from the successive overthrowing of representative regimes. They could not deliver any remarkable to uplift the standard of living of a common man except false promises. It was the Musharraf regime which can be given credit for many reasons: allowed a national government to complete its five year tenure, introduced local government systems for dicentralization of power though a move to by pass the then political and administrative forces like his predecessors military dictators to bolster one man show. Apart from few of blunders in terms of killing of Akbar Bugti, subjugation of judiciary, appointment of army on service and retired personnel in institutions offering higher education, other key positions in major public organiztions and using force as a decisive force instead of dialogue his regime can be recalled for many things during last eight years. He was the first who put hand on non-state actors, brought changes in status of deprived regions like Gilgit-Baltistan bringing reforms and took initiatives to improve education and health facilities. He gave us an International University, increased woman representation, empowered Northern Light Infantry, established N.A scouts and notified Hunza-Nagar district and many more. Yet, at the same time on mass level, despite many accomplishments, it failed to address the real issues of poor. Giant fishes got most and poor further got depressed as the regime greatly revolved around the interests of Chaurdhries and lords. December 2007, shall be remembered a black day when Benazir Bhutto, a female leader of international repute was assassinated at the same place where one of the most famous Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan as killed. Country fell into chaos and observed an extreme internal and internal threat to her existence second time after 1971. Good heaven, the situation soon normalized. With the dawn of democracy, based on Benazir Bhutto's sacrifice has brought a hope of change of image of the country in global economy. PPP led contemporary government has given a new Self Governance Reforms Package 2009 ahead of poles to empower the assembly to legislate on various subjects not allowed in past and choose their own Chief Minister unanimously with the consent of Prime Minister, the head of set up-a good initiative after Z.A Bhutto's compassions for the region. The package has opened a door for more autonomy resembles to that of Azad Kashmir. Though, there are many flaws in the package yet, it will serve to reduce feeling of deprivation among the masses.

There is another side of the picture that the poor performance in many of the departments in government sector during last two years has raised many questions in our mind regarding its capability to cope the challenges that the country faces internally and externally. Public welfare, security from internal and external aggressions and provision of basic necessities to the citizens is the fundamental responsibilities of modern states. Yet, more focus on external threats under security syndrome has left the country nothing but to expend on defense-thus neglecting other sectors like education, strategic personnel planning, health, trade and industry and exploitation of natural resources to strengthen our economy. As for as the private sector especially the NGOs are concerned, the are now confine to reporting to get funds, roam and measure the length of roads in their luxury vehicles. Now it depends on flow of events that will decide the future course of history.

Shamsuddin Muhammad,

Author and Editor,



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About Me

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Hyderabad,, IslamicRepublic of Pakistan, Pakistan
I am social person with a tendency towards learning knowledge that will balance the material world and the hereafter, a legacy obtained from the family. I earned my MA (General History with specialization in Modern History) and M.A.S (Master of Administrative siences with speciliazation in HRM) both from University of Karachi in 2005 and 2007 respectively, am fond of social work and public welfare. The blog focuses on social change caused by socio- economic and geo-political impulse in the country in general and the region particular.