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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Boxing star Amir Khan arrives in Pakistan for tournament

British boxer Amir Khan arrived in Pakistan on Monday to participate as a chief guest in the second Benazir Bhutto International Boxing Tournament.

Speaking to the media at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad, Khan said that Pakistani boxers were getting better.

“I can see in the next couple of years, they will be amongst toughest nations out there.”

Khan said he will support Pakistani boxers and that he was here to boost their morale.

Khan arrived in Pakistan on an invitation from the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) and will stay in Islamabad for four days.

Earlier, boxing legend Mohammad Ali turned down an invitation from PBF to attend the event due to health issues.

A total of 16 teams are participating in the tournament including Pakistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Central Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, Syria, Slovenia, Singapore.

Cricket: Sri Lanka hope for change of luck

South Africa will remain favourites but Sri Lanka can expect less treacherous batting conditions in the second Test starting at Kingsmead.

Sri Lanka were swept aside by an innings and 81 runs before tea on the third day in the first Test at Centurion, where their batsmen were unable to combat the home side’s fast-bowlers on a pitch with uneven bounce and extravagant sideways movement.

Shaun Pollock, a former South African captain, was among critics who felt the pitch at Centurion was loaded unfairly in favour of the bowlers and it seems likely that the surface at Kingsmead will offer a more even contest.

Pollock said pitches like that at Centurion did not benefit the South African team in the long-term.

“I don’t believe these conditions help with the development of our cricketers,” said Pollock. “As a South African supporter I feel we can compete with the best teams in the world on quality surfaces.”

The Kingsmead pitch is still likely to help the fast-bowlers, because it offers pace and bounce, but the bowlers will probably have to work harder for their wickets.

Sri Lanka were outclassed in the first Test but will be hoping to end what has been a winless year in Test cricket on a positive note. With batsmen of the calibre of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and captain Tillekeratne Dilshan, they have the potential to post a competitive total.

Sri Lanka’s bowling, though, lacks penetration following the retirement of off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and it is doubtful whether the call-up of fast-bowling reserves in the form of Dhammika Prasad and Kanishka Alvitigala will make a significant difference.

For South Africa, rookie fast-bowler Vernon Philander, who hurt his knee in the nets on Saturday, has been in irresistible form, taking 24 wickets in his first three Tests, including 10 for 102 at Centurion.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Football: Celtic trio called to represent Team GB

Three players belonging to Scottish club Celtic have been invited to be a part of Great Britain’s team at the 2012 London Olympics.

While Adam Matthews, 19, and James Forrest, 20, both meet the under-23 age requirement, Scott Brown would be one the three over-age players permitted for each squad at the Olympics.  Brown has played for the Scotland national team on 27 occasions, while Forrest has four caps with Scotland and Matthews has made five appearances for Wales.

The trio’s invitation comes in spite of the fact that the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Football Associations are against the involvement of their players as representatives of a Great Britain  team at the Olympics.

Football: Ferguson praises Giggs as United look to extend winning run

Sir Alex Ferguson has paid tribute to the ‘incredible’ contribution of Ryan Giggs as Manchester United look to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City.

After a series of flat performances following their 6-1 mauling by City in October, United have recently recovered some of their former swagger, scoring 11 goals in three consecutive victories.

That run of results included a 5-0 demolition of Fulham at Craven Cottage last week, a match where the 38-year-old Giggs extended his remarkable feat of scoring a goal in every Premier League season.

Ferguson singled out Giggs for praise as United look to maintain their momentum with what should be a relatively straightforward assignment against struggling Wigan on Boxing Day.

“He was unbelievable on Wednesday,” Ferguson said of Giggs’ display against Fulham. “He controlled the midfield. I saw Danny Murphy bellowing to the forwards to come back because he was finding it hard.

“We know he is incredible. It is an established fact. It is an unusual sight we are seeing in the modern-day game, a lad at 38 performing at that level.”

Giggs has meanwhile raised the possibility of extending his United career by yet another season.

“It’s almost that time when I’ll sit down with the manager and see what his plans are and I’ll see how I’m feeling,” Giggs told

“At the moment I feel really good and I’m enjoying things more than ever, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Mancini calls for improvement

Meanwhile, City manager Roberto Mancini has called on his squad to prove their title credentials by winning on the road at West Bromwich Albion.

City have been invincible at their Eastlands fortress this season, with nine wins from nine matches. But Mancini’s men have taken just one point from their last two away fixtures, a statistic the Italian is determined to improve.

“We still have Chelsea, United, Tottenham and Liverpool to come to [Eastlands], but we need to win away games as well, and we have only one point from our last two,” said Mancini.

“I have a lot of respect for West Bromwich, and for [manager] Roy Hodgson — he is one of the best managers in Europe. It will be very hard because they play good football. They have had some problems but won their last two away games and seem to be in good form.”

In other games today, Chelsea will be confident of collecting all three points as they face a Fulham side still struggling to shake off the after-effects of last week’s 5-0 home mauling by Manchester United.

Liverpool meanwhile will be anxious to take maximum points from bottom club Blackburn at Anfield after disappointment last week in a 0-0 draw with Wigan.

If Kayani’s, Pasha’s heads roll, SC may come to rescue

Rumours abound as to who’s going to make the first move – the civilian government, or the military establishment? In the possible scenario that the government sacks Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani or Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) Shuja Pasha over Memogate, the army  may approach the Supreme Court (SC). 

In recent days, General Kayani has had a series of consultations with his top commanders to discuss the current tensions with the government, and possible options to deal with the situation if things go from bad to worse, a source in the military told The Express Tribune.

No coup on the cards

A consensus has been reached that no direct intervention will take place as it had in October 1999 if the government decides to send the army and intelligence chiefs packing, the source said.  Instead, they have decided to challenge such a move before the country’s highest court, the source disclosed.

Kayani and Pasha are both working under extensions to their tenure, but under the constitution the prime minister does have the power to remove them anytime. The ISI chief’s extension expires in March next year while Kayani remains at the helm till November 2013.

However, legal experts are of the view that such a move on the part of the government is likely to be set aside by the SC, which is currently examining a petition seeking a judicial probe into the memo scandal.

“They (Army and ISI chiefs) can challenge the government decision in the SC based on the grounds that it is mala fide (in bad faith) to preempt investigations into the memo case,” said barrister Zafarullah Khan, who is one of the petitioners in
the case.

He said there were instances in the past where the apex court overruled such decisions by the government. “And my feeling is if the government goes to that extent, the Supreme Court may not accept it,” he argued.

When approached, the military’s public relations wing refused to comment.


Both Kayani and Pasha have taken an entirely different position to that of the government before the nine-member bench of the court on Memogate.

The generals insist that the memo is authentic and needs to be thoroughly investigated while the government has termed it a conspiracy and urged the SC to dismiss petitions outright.

The differences have recently prompted Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to claim that ‘conspirators’ were out to bring down his government in an unusual tirade against the army.

However, the army chief himself brushed aside rumours of a takeover, describing such allegations as an attempt to divert focus from the ‘real issues.’

What PPP members want

In the face of strained civil-military relations, at a recent gathering of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, some members demanded of the government to let the heads of the army and ISI chiefs roll, immediately.

PPP’s chief spokesman Qamar Zaman Kaira reportedly said certain members did raise this issue in the ruling party’s parliamentary committee meeting but insisted those views did not represent the government’s stance.

It is believed that the government has so far resisted taking such an extreme step due to several reasons that include likely resistance from the military and the role of the SC in this entire controversy.

Other factors such as public opposition from the PML-N, which would likely resist such a move, may also force the government to play safe.

Quaid-i-Azam Day: Float displays country’s cultural diversity

 The capital city witnessed a unique form of celebration this year to mark Quaid-i-Azam’s birth anniversary. A musical float covered in green and white balloons and banners passed through the main roads, turning heads and bringing smiles among the people.

The float started its journey from the old Parade Ground near Parliament house, and went up to F-10 chowk and ventured back to its original venue to celebrate the day.

The float was designed and decorated by National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) and all the artists performing were affiliated with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).

The float, with the theme “Unity, Faith and Discipline”, represented culture of all the provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir besides displaying photographs of Quaid-i-Azam and his unique belongings. A special function comprising performances of folk artists were arranged. Folk artists presented Dharee, Sammi and Khattak dances all the way on the float. A documentary film on Jinnah was also screened on a large screen.

“I am glad to be a part the event, for which we spent a lot of time and energy and seeing so many people enjoy it has made all the efforts worth it,” said PNCA Performance Director Hassan Raza, who seemed to be much excited.

Qurban Niazi from Punjab, Taj Buledi from Sindh, Akhtar Chinaal from Balochistan, Gulrez Tabassum from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Rukhsana Murtaza from AJK bore the December chill and warmed up the air with their melodic voices by singing patriotic and folk songs.

“It is really heart-warming to see so many people and musicians coming together to celebrate our founding father but it is important that we remember his efforts and apply his principles at all times and not just this one day,” remarked Chinaal.

Sami dance group from Jhelum performed in pairs to the beat of ‘dandiyas’ (sticks), while Dharees dance group from Jhang performed a variant of ‘bhangra’.

A dance group from Peshawar, dressed in red and white, waved red handkerchief in the air and performed the traditional ‘khattak’ dance, while Sunny dance group from Islamabad, performed a dhamaal on the occasion.

PTI steals thunder

Interestingly, as the day came to a close and the participants were getting ready for another round of cultural event — live music, dance — the roaring sounds of speeches by Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf leaders from the southern port city of Karachi drowned out the festive sounds of the founding father’s birth anniversary.

Photographic exhibition

A three-day exhibition displaying rare photographs of personal and political life of Muhammad Ali Jinnah started at Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC).

Rare pictures depicting Jinnah’s personal and political life, struggle for Pakistan and international visits are on display.

A good number of people came to the RAC to peep into the life of Quaid.

“The photos are great source of information and inspiration for the people as these [photos] have shown how the founder of Pakistan struggled for achieving a separate homeland”, said Muhammad Hanif a university teacher.

The exhibition will remain open till Tuesday.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

To ease freight load: Green light given to buy 14 cargo ships

As the increased Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports are in the pipeline to tackle the severe energy crisis the country faces, the government has given a green signal to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to procure 14 new ships under a five year fleet development programme.

These vessels, costing around 5 million, are to be purchased with assistance from USAID.

In addition to the imports of LNG, the proposed plan seeks to ensure an uninterrupted supply of other strategic commodities to the country such as oil, raw material and grains.

The ships will be procured by Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC).

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has given construction licences to three parties, including Global Energy International, Engro Corporation and Pakistan Gas Port (PGP) to guarantee LNG’s delivery, expected by the middle of next year.

Documents show that in a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on October 21, the proposed plan was adopted according to which the ships would be procured by PNSC to handle general dry cargo and liquid products.

CDWP was also informed that PNSC currently had 11 ships which would be replaced by an equal number of new ships to meet the present demand of seaborne trade.

It was also noted that the terms and conditions of the proposed loan were not given in the proposal.

Representative of the sponsoring agency informed the meeting that the requisite information would be provided along with the PC-1 of the project.

The Ministry of Ports and Shipping was directed to submit a well-prepared PC-1 for further processing through an approval authority.

Pakistan’s seaborne trade volume stands at 66 million tons and PNSC’s share is less than 10 per cent in dry sector and around 45 per cent in the liquid sectors in terms of volume.

When translated into terms of freight bill, its share is about 1 per cent against the average freight bill estimated at 4 billion dollars per annum.

Car catches fire near PTI rally in Karachi Venue

 A parked car strangely catches fire near the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rally venue in Karachi reported.

According to E Pakistan News correspondent, a car catches fire outside the PTI rally in Karachi city, no reason immediately come on the front.

The firemen have been called immediately to cover the fire, no loss other loss reported.

The fire incident took place when the Chairman PTI Imran Khan visited the venue of the rally.

On the other hand, Pakistan Tehree-e-Insaf (PTI) is due to hold a rally in Karachi on December 25 at Mazar-e-Qaid.

The venue for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) rally on December 25 was reopened after being shut for a short period of time on Friday.

The gates were reopened on the instructions of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. The Quaid-e-Azam Management Board said that the gates were closed under the Maintenance Protection Act, which states that no public procession can be held within a three-kilometre radius of the mausoleum.

A note of objection was also placed at the gates of the venue on the order of the Sindh High Court. However, the resident engineer later showed a no-objection certificate issued by the federal secretary of national heritage.

Firdous Ashiq Awan submitted her resignation as Minister

 Federal Minister for Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan announced her resignation from her ministerial post during a cabinet meeting held on Sunday December 25, 2011.

Teary-eyed Awan delivered an emotional speech in the cabinet meeting, and criticized the policies of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). She went on to say that she still supports and is aligned with the PPP.

Addressing Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Awan said: “While endorsing your leadership, I don’t think I can continue as a member of the cabinet. With your permission, I would like to submit my resignation.”

She said that she does not need to be part of a ministry which poses problems for the party and does not consider her worthy of fulfilling her role as a minister any longer.

“I endorse your leadership (but) I think I am not competent enough to continue as cabinet member and hence submit my resignation,” Awan tearfully said at a televised cabinet meeting.

She did not cite any other reason behind her move, however certain reports suggest that Prime Minister Gilani had asked her to resign for her failure to defend effectively the government policies.

It was not immediately clear if she was forced to resign or if she quit voluntarily as some analysts say Awan may have been forced to resign due to her failure to convincingly defend the government in the Memogate scandal.

Following Sherry Rahman and Qamar Zaman Kaira, Awan is the third information minister who resigned from this slot during PPP government’s four-year rule.

Gen. Kayani was not be present at the president’s dinner

 General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani was not be present at the President Asif Zardari hosted dinner in the honour of Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Saturday night, source reported.

According to details, President Asif Ali Zardari conferred Hilal-i-Pakistan award on Dai Bingguo, State Councillor of China, at a special investiture ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Saturday.

The ceremony was attended among others by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Senate Chairman Farooq H Naik, Speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza, Azad Kashmir President Sardar Yaqub, federal ministers, Senators, Services Chiefs, members of the National Assembly, federal secretaries and other dignitaries.

Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani did not attend the dinner. Gen. Kayani had also stayed away from the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday.

On the other hand, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and Naval Chief Asif Sandila join the dinner.

Imran Khan ramps up anti-graft revolution

As Pakistan wrestles with a political crisis Imran Khan is drawing ever-bigger crowds in his bid to become premier, but analysts remain sceptical about the national cricket hero’s chances of winning.

Khan, 59, leader of the opposition Movement for Justice Party, is hoping his anti-corruption ticket will draw voters to a rally in the southern commercial hub of Karachi on Sunday, matching a massive turnout in October.

In a crowd that shocked many observers, an October 30 rally in Lahore drew more than 100,000 supporters to hear Khan, whose national profile was cemented as the captain of the only Pakistani cricket team to clinch the World Cup.

The 1992 victory has helped propel Khan toward becoming the troubled nation’s next Prime Minister as he leads an anti-graft revolution, with some politicians having already left their own parties to join Khan’s camp.

Among the defectors is former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who left the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, led by embattled President Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari has been embroiled in a scandal over allegations that his ambassador to Washington called on the US for help to abort any coup by Pakistan’s powerful military, which on Friday ruled out any takeover.

But the so-called memo scandal, being probed by Pakistan’s top court, has prompted speculation that the government’s days are numbered and Zardari may be forced out over it, and illness, after he was treated in Dubai this month.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani delivered an unprecedented tirade against the military and accused “conspirators” — whom he did not name — of plotting to bring down the government.

The uncertainty comes as Pakistanis grow increasingly concerned over corruption and energy shortfalls that regularly trigger protests across the country.

“There is now a wide gap between the government and the people because of the lack of fuel, electricity, because of bad governance, law and order and unemployment,” said Tauseef Ahmad Khan, a political analyst and professor at the Federal Urdu University in Karachi.

“But Imran Khan, who promotes transparency and talks against corruption, fills this gap, particularly among the urban and educated youth.”

On the streets, Khan’s talk of clean government and cracking down on graft has won him supporters, including Karachi cigarette-seller Merajuddin.

“Imran Khan seems like an honest guy… I want him to become prime minister,” the 52-year-old said.

Adam Ali, a policeman in Pakistan’s biggest city, said corruption runs rampant through the political elite, giving Khan a shot at grabbing power.

“All other political parties are corrupted,” he told AFP, adding that Khan was the “right guy” for the job.

However, some say Khan and his party’s emergence from the political wilderness is due to covert support from Pakistan’s military, which has staged three coups and is seen as the nation’s chief arbiter of power.

Khan has denied the claims.

“(But) he is talking against India and about making friendships with the Taliban — these are the basics of the army’s politics,” said Khan from the Federal Urdu University.

“He is only there to help the army to demolish the current government.”

However Arif Alvi, secretary-general of Khan’s party, dismissed claims the cricketer’s rise is due to the military, adding “the army can give money or ask people to join us. But it can’t by itself make Imran Khan so popular.”

Khan’s party has tapped social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to reach the all-important 18-30 age group, which represents about one-quarter of Pakistan’s population of 174 million — and more than the usual voting pool.

Nearly 600,000 people have joined Khan’s party in recent months by sending a text on their mobile phone.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Protection of minorities rights is a duty of Govt.: Gilani

 Felicitating the Christian community on the auspicious occasion of Christmas, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure the rights of minorities as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

“The Government of Pakistan regards the protection of rights of the minorities as its constitutional duty and is committed to their welfare.

The Constitution of 1973 guarantees complete religious freedom, social justice, and equality of rights to the minorities,” Gilani said in his message on the occasion of Christmas.

The Prime Minister said minorities are his constituency, adding, “They enjoy representation in the National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan.”

He said the implementation of 5% job quota is also being ensured in all the federal jobs for the minorities in addition to their participation in open merit.

“On my instructions, the district administration is also going to arrange Christmas bazaars this year,” he added.

The Prime Minister said he has no doubt in his mind that minorities would continue to play their commendable role in the national development.

He said, “Today is a sacred day of Christmas. On this auspicious occasion, I wish to extend the message of felicitation and greetings to all members of the Christian community inside and outside Pakistan on behalf of the people and government of Pakistan.”

“It is the day when Jesus Christ came to the world as a Messiah and brought with him a message of peace, love and security.  God sent him to the world at a time when people were bogged down in the darkness of ignorance, greed, hatred and deceit. His arrival ushered in a new era of enlightenment. He brought about such a spiritual revolution as changed the tone and tenor of life of mankind,” he added.

The Prime Minister said Muslims around the world regard Jesus Christ as a revered messenger of Allah Almighty and hold him in the highest esteem. “Allah Almighty sent him as a messenger of hope, peace and human brotherhood. His teachings and sayings are a beacon of light for the entire humanity,” he added.

Gilani said, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, said about the minorities in his famous August 11 speech.  He said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

The Prime Minister said, “The Government believes that the Christians, indeed all minorities of Pakistan are equal citizens of the State and are entitled to equal rights.”

“The present democratic government declared August 11 as the National Day of the Minorities, which is aimed at eulogizing the contributions and achievements of the minorities for the development of Pakistan,” he added.

Saudi airlines emergency landing in Karachi

 Saudi Arabia’s private airline plane made safe landing at city airport, no one passenger hurt, reported on Sunday.

According to correspondent, the Saudi plane was in the way of Tabook to Quetta had been diverted to Karachi; its wheels were not working properly that’s why made an emergency landing at Karachi city airport.

Pilot of the Saudi airline has been send a SOS to the control room tower, the airport tower control make urgent arrangements for the emergency landing and plane was landed safely at Karachi airport.

No one Passenger wounded, all are safe and sound.

According to APP: A Saudi chartered plane MD 83, with 72 people on board having a nose wheel problem made a safe landing at Karachi Airport on Sunday.

The spokesman of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Pervez George, said that the plane was heading from Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, to Quetta, when it experienced nose wheel problem and was diverted to Karachi.

He said that after two tries the plane landed safely at Karachi Airport.

Pervez further stated that CAA had made all the necessary arrangements for the landing of the plane and the operation was supervised by the Airport Manager Nasir Shaikh.

Thousands of people gathered in PTI Karachi rally

Chairman, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Sunday vowed to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state, according to the vision of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e- Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Addressing a public meeting at Bagh-e-Quaid here on Sunday, he unfolded his plan to make the country a welfare state, where every one could get his due right without discrimination.

He pledged if his party came into power, it would change the decades old system of status quo and would reconsider all basic policies including economic, education, industrial and agriculture, for progress of the country.

He claimed that PTI government would provide free education, health facilities and free of charge justice to each and every Pakistani.

PTI would make Pakistan a corruption free society and its resources will be used on the welfare of common man, he said.   The tax collection system will be made transparent to make the country self reliant, he added.

He said PTI will introduce a system of good governance and every thing would be done strictly on merit through an honest team.

The chairman PTI said overseas Pakistanis are country’s asset and the PTI would provide them investment friendly atmosphere so that they could invest in the country without any fear.

He said introduction of across the board accountability system will be on priority and every one will be made accountable.

He said PTI would resolve the issues of Balochistan and special initiatives will be taken to remove sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan.

He announced that his party would hold a public meeting in Quetta on March 23, 2012.

Addressing on the occasion, Vice Chairman PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi said PTI will work for bringing positive change in the life of common man as they are facing hardship in their routine life.

Makhdoom Javed Hashmi addressing the public meeting said that PTI is trying to bring ideological revolution as per wishes of the people of Pakistan.

He said economic condition of Pakistan was not good and common man was feeling unsecured, adding people of Karachi did not want target killings rather they wanted peace, and added his party will take initiatives for long lasting peace in Karachi and other parts of the country.

The meeting was also attended among others by Azam Khan Sawti and Jahangir Tareen besides other central leaders.

US suspends drone attacks in Pakistan

 The US Central Intelligence Agency has suspended drone missile strikes on gatherings of low-ranking militants in Pakistan due to tensions with that country, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Citing unnamed current and former US officials, the newspaper said late Friday the undeclared halt in CIA attacks is aimed at reversing a sharp erosion of trust between the two countries.

US-Pakistani relations deteriorated last month after a series of US air strikes killed 24 Pakistan soldiers near the border with Afghanistan.

A joint US-NATO investigation concluded that a disastrous spate of errors and botched communications led to the deaths. Pakistan has rejected the findings.

The pause in the missile strikes comes amid an intensifying debate in the administration of President Barack Obama over the future of the CIA’s covert drone war in Pakistan, the paper said.

The CIA has killed dozens of Al-Qaeda operatives and hundreds of low-ranking fighters there since the first Predator strike in 2004, but the program has infuriated many Pakistanis, the report noted.

Some officials in the State Department and the National Security Council say many of the airstrikes are counterproductive, The Times said.

They argue that rank-and-file militants are easy to replace, and that Pakistani claims of civilian casualties, which the United States dispute, have destabilized the government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Some US intelligence officials are urging the CIA to cut back the paramilitary role it has assumed since the September 11, 2001, attacks to refocus on espionage, the paper pointed out.

They suggest handing the mission to the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, which flies its own drones and conducts secret counter-terrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia, The Times noted

Pakistan won hockey series against China

Pakistan on Sunday completed a clean sweep of China in their four-match hockey series. Pakistan won the final match 2-1 to emerge unbeaten in the series after taking the first three games in Karachi and Faisalabad earlier this week by 3-0, 5-3 and 3-1.

Pakistan gained the early lead when Vice-captain Shakeel Abbasi made a field goal in the first major attack of the match.

Fareed Ahmed drew the second in the 26th minute to double the lead, while China’s lone goal came in the 33rd minute when Dong Yang dodged Pakistan’s defence in the final moments of the first half.

“The Chinese played a much improved game today. They kept us tight,” said Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran. “We had a clear edge on them in the first two matches but they had a good come back in the last two,” he added.

Pakistan, however, gifted the series trophy to their rivals to acknowledge their support for the violence-hit country.

“China lost the hockey series but won the friendship series by coming to Pakistan. So, we will give this trophy to them,” Asif Bajwa, the secretary of Pakistan Hockey Federation, said at the awards ceremony.

“They have proved that there is no security threat to any foreign team in Pakistan and sport is fully protected over here,” he said.

Pakistan, which last hosted an international major hockey event seven years ago, hopes the Chinese tour will help convince other foreign teams to visit.

The country is also working to resume a bilateral hockey series with India.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

163 bottles of liquor, other items seized

Township and Raiwind police have arrested three dacoits and a drug peddler on Tuesday and recovered 163 bottles of liquor, motorbikes, looted cash, mobile and other valuables from their possession. Following special directives by the Operations Police Chief, DSP Jehangir Butt and SHO Raiwind Mahmood Bhatti raided a den and arrested a notorious drug peddler Mazhar Ali Machi red handed.
?Yes, we have recovered 163 bottles of local made liquor and have lodged an FIR (877/11) against him,? an on duty ASI Rana Muhammad Ijaz said. Meanwhile, Township police arrested Mani dacoit gang comprising ringleader Imran alias Mani and his two accomplices Javed alias Jedo and Bilal and recovered five mobile phones, cash, gold ornaments and other valuables from their possession.
Talking to this scribe, Sadr Division SP Operations Shoaib Khurram Janbaz said the aforesaid dacoit gang was involved in dozen of criminal acts, which the have confessed of committing in various areas including Township, Sabzazaar, Johar Town, Mustafa

Abbas, Meshaal to meet in Cairo

  Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will meet in Cairo this week despite the unrest rocking Egypt, Hamas and Fatah officials said on Tuesday. Egypt has been shaken in recent days by renewed protests calling for the ruling military council to step aside and allow an interim civilian government to take power. But officials of the rival Palestinian movements said the unrest would not derail a planned meeting between Meshaal and Abbas later this week. The talks will go ahead "as scheduled on Thursday," Hamas official Ismail Radwan told AFP in Gaza, in remarks which were confirmed by senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed.
The two leaders are due to finalise details of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas which was signed in May but has yet to be implemented.
The deal called for the immediate formation of an interim government to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.
But implementation of the agreement has stalled, with the two sides failing to agree on the make-up of the caretaker government and, in particular, who will head it.
Abbas has reportedly insisted on keeping prime minister Salam Fayyad, in a demand repeatedly rejected by Hamas.
But Radwan said the idea of Fayyad heading the new government "has been ruled out already, and now we are talking about consensus principles to allow the selection of someone to head the government in line with the reconciliation deal."
Both factions reportedly have preferred candidates and Radwan said Hamas would submit its list of names "if we are asked to do so," while indicating "the first priority is agree on a capable nationalist figure."
He refused to confirm reports that Hamas would agree to implement a year-long truce with Israel.
"There is no discussion about the management of the fight against the occupation, but the issue is subject to national agreement (between all factions) before and after the formation of the government," he said.
Radwan said a senior delegation of Gaza-based Hamas leaders, including Khalil al-Hayya and Nizar Awadallah, would leave for Cairo on Wednesday where they would be party to the talks between Abbas and Meshaal.
Abbas was to arrive in Cairo later on Tuesday and meet with the head of Egypt's ruling council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on Wednesday, Ahmed said.
A follow-up meeting involving "all the Palestinian factions" would take place next month, he said, adding that details would be announced after the Hamas-Fatah leadership talks.

Abidi gets rousing welcome in Karachi

 Newly-nominated chief of the PPP?s Karachi chapter, Senator Faisal Reza Abidi, asserted on Tuesday that President Zardari was unaware of the controversial memo of ?Israeli Mossad agent Mansoor Ijaz?.
?It (memo) was not from President Asif Ali Zardari. He is completely unaware of it,? reiterated Abidi while addressing PPP workers at the Karachi airport.
The top PPP leader called the memogate a conspiracy against the ruling party, and said, ?It would never succeed.?
Upon his arrival in the business hub city, Abidi was accorded a rousing welcome by thousands of PPP leaders and workers, who had flocked to the airport from various neighbourhoods except Lyari - a strong bastion of the PPP for the past four decades.
The activists were carrying party flags and portraits of former slain premier Benazir Bhutto and President Zardari. Their slogans reverberated like raging storms in the city as Abidi?s address progressed.
?The PPP has rendered unforgettable sacrifices for the restoration of democracy in the country. It would not allow conspirators to derail the democratic process,? he averred.
Expressing disapproval of leaders of other political groups for their criticism of the PPP, Abidi held that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had written the apology to dictator Pervez Musharraf after he thought it fit for himself to live in exile during the entire tenure of the former president.
About the PTI chairman, he recalled that cricketer-cum-politician Imran Khan had given interview for the slot of prime minister to Musharraf thrice. ?Imran tried in vain.?
The top PPP leader said he returned to Karachi after two years as ?President Zardari has reposed confidence in him?.
He warned that he would not allow anyone to grab land and use PPP flags for any illegal work, saying stern action would be taken against those found guilty. Abidi also claimed that he received life threats from terrorists but they could not deter his resolve to work for democracy and the PPP.

Agencies role elimination a must: Shahzain

Provincial President Jamoori Watan Party (JWP), Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti has said the dream of peace and stability in the country and province cannot be materialised until and unless incidents of kill and dump of missing persons, military operation and target killings are stopped.
?Elimination of corruption and role of state intelligence agencies from the country?s politics is inevitable,? he said.
Addressing a press conference at Bugti House here on Tuesday, Shahzain regretted the deteriorating law and order situation in the province and said state intelligence agencies and incompetent rulers were equally responsible for the grim situation. ?If recovery of decomposed bodies of missing persons, military operation, target killings and corruption were not stopped the country would not remain intact,? he feared.
He said in order to get rid of corrupt and incompetent rulers, JWP had decided to kick off a public campaign and would hold public meetings in Quetta from Nov 25.
JWP leader alleged military drive was still continuing in Dera Bugti and they were still not allowed to move to their hometown.
Responding to a question, he said he had gone abroad in connection with his medical check-up and not for other purpose. He said Interior Minister Rehman Malik had included his name in Exit Control List and only once he was given a chance to travel abroad for treatment.
On the occasion, JWP senior leader Mir Yousuf Notezai said public campaign was just a beginning of the movement against corrupt rulers and this campaign would soon turn to be a flood for the rulers.
He said judiciary had issued orders of arrest warrants of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti but despite it government neither taking action against accused who were in the country nor who were out of country.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All parties want thorough probe into memo scandal

 The political parties Tuesday gave cautious comments on the memo controversy but on one point all the politicians were having a consensus that if found guilty stern action should be taken against all those found involved.
A majority of the PPP leaders termed the memo saga a conspiracy against their government but were of the firm view that the PPP-led coalition government would do impartial inquiry into the matter and if some truth was found in it the culprits would be awarded exemplary punishment. They said that the prime minister had sought the resignation from Hussain Haqqani and it was sufficient to prove that the government is sincere in conducting fair and impartial probe into the matter.
Law Minister Maula Buksh Chandio said that the things about memo scandal would be clear by today and assured that a thorough probe in to the matter would be conducted.
Talking to media, he said that stern action against Hussain Haqqani would be taken in case he was found guilty and the matter would go beyond his resignation. ?The result of the memo issue will come out by tomorrow,? he said.
Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar affirmed that the government and army are enjoying normal ties and the entire memo scandal sounds baseless. He further said that Husain Haqqani would be given fair chance to clarify his position on the issue. President of his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League Sh. Rashid Ahmad said that Haqqani?s name should be placed on Exit Control List while the matter should be probed under the supervision of superior judiciary.
He suspected that some bigwigs of the government might have hand in the whole affair and it should be thoroughly probed as it involved issues relating the national security. Awami National Party spokesman said that Prime Minister had sought resignation from Hussain Haqqani and everybody should wait and see the inquiry report. He further said that it was premature to jump on the conclusion right now and wait for the results of the formal inquiry to be initiated against the former Pakistan Ambassador to US.
Giving a reaction on Ambassador Husain Haqqani?s resignation, PML-N spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid said on Tuesday said the resignation of the envoy is not enough as the real faces behind the Memogate episode need to be unveiled.
Pervez said that given the facts of the matter, one can say that diplomacy of Haqqani was threat to the country however the memo issue carries a number of questions which need to be answered.
To a question, he said his party would take a decision after a fresh review of the issue. A private TV channel reported the PML-N was set to file a petition before the Supreme Court on memo issue today. Pervez said the resignation itself indicated that something wrong was done by Haqqani but added that the real characters behind the matter remain to be exposed.
Others parties, MQM, JUI-F and PML-F gave cautious view on the issue, saying everybody should wait for the inquiry.
The PTI spokesman demanded thorough probe into the matter and stressed the need of exposing the real faces behind the whole saga.

All stakeholders to be taken on board: Gilani

 Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has assured Kashmiri leadership that trade will be promoted with India after taking all the stake holders on board. He stated this while talking to AJK former Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mehmood who called on him here on Tuesday.
Barrister Sultan appreciated steps taken by PM for resolving all the issues through dialogue and raising Kashmir issue in an effective manner during his meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
Gilani said PPP led government was committed to continue efforts for resolution of Kashmir issue. ?We want Kashmir issue is addressed peacefully as per will of people of the Kashmir through talks with India.
Peace will remain eluded in the region without resolving Kashmir issue. Pakistan stands by its principled stance and no change has been made therein?, he stated.
Barrister Sultan Mehmood apprised PM of political situation of AJK.

Anothder Indian prisoner still in jail despite term saturation

 The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notice to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary on a petition seeking inclusion the name of another Indian prisoner, Surjit Singh allegedly confined in Lahore central jail, in the list of foreigner prisoners languishing in Pakistani jails despite fulfilling their jail terms.
Advocate Awais Sheikh filed the petition and submitted that some time ago he had a meeting with superintendent of jail who admitted that Surjit Singh alas Makhan Singh was in jail and had spent 10 years more than 25 years of his jail term. He said Kalvindar Kaur, daughter of Singh, had asked him that she had already sent her identification proves and she was ready to send her DNA reports to prove her blood relations with her father. He said despite the presence of the proof of identification and the completion of sentence, the continuous detention of Mr Singh is illegal and unlawful. He prayed the court that Foreign Affairs secretary and superintendent of jail may kindly be directed to include the name of Surjit Singh in the list of prisoners who had already been produced before the LHC so that he may be released with other prisoners. It may be recalled that on November 2, Punjab Inspector General of Prisons had presented before LHC a list of 74 foreigner prisoners, 32 among them Indians, languishing in Pakistani jails despite fulfilling their jail term.

Archdiocese of Lahore celebrate 125th anniversary

A special prayer service (Thanksgiving Mass) was held at St. Anthony?s High School, Lawrence Road, Lahore on November 19, 2011 to celebrate 125th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of Lahore.
Bishop Sebastian Shaw, Apostolic Administrator, Archdiocese of Lahore along with Rev. Fr. Andrew Nisari Vicar General and the clergy offered the Holy Mass.
More than three thousand faithful attended the mass in order to thank God Almighty for the successful completion of 125 years of the Archdiocese of Lahore and countless blessings of the Lord during all these years.
The history of the Archdioceses of Lahore is replete with the selfless services of Catholic Bishops, Fathers. Nuns and the clergy for the humanity irrespective of race, color or creed particularly in the field of education, health and social uplift in Pakistan.
Bishop Sebastian Shaw in his homily paid glowing tributes to all the past and the present servants of God attached with the Archdiocese, for their untiring efforts and selfless services for humanity. He reiterated his commitment that the diocese would continue its services with the same missionary zeal in all the times to come.
A large number of people including people from civil society, dignitaries and Muslim Ulema attended the program.

Friday, 16 December 2011

ASWJ activist among four killed Karachi violence

 As many as four people, including an ASWJ activist, were killed in separate incidents of violence in the city on Tuesday.
A worker of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) was shot dead at his house in Wahid Colony in the limits of the North Nazimabad Police Station. Identified as Qari Zafar, 36, son of Mohammad Ramzan, the victim was shot in the temple by unidentified gunmen at his house. After committing the crime, the culprits managed to flee from the scene, however.
The dead body was moved to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) for medico-legal formalities. According to police officials, the victim used to teach at the Ashraful Madaris in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area and hailed from Rahim Yar Khan.
They said the victim belonged to Deo Band sect, suspecting that he might have been a victim of sectarian killing.
Maulana Taj Hanfi, a spokesman for the ASWJ, formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), said that Zafar was their Wahid Colony?s unit in-charge. He condemned the killing, and demanded the government to arrest his killers. A case has been registered against the unidentified gunmen and police are investigating.
Separately, police found dead body of a man from Nishtar Road in the limits of the Garden Police Station. Identity of the victim could not be ascertained until the filing of this report. He was heading somewhere when unidentified armed men opened fire on him. He received a bullet on the head and died on the spot.
According to police officials, the victim appeared to be an Iranian Baloch. The body was shifted to the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) for postmortem and later moved to Edhi Morgue for identification. Police have registered a case against the unidentified killers.
In another incident, an elderly man was shot dead in Ittehad Town, Baldia, within the jurisdiction of the Mochko Police Station. Haya Khan, 65, son of Misri Khan, was standing outside his house when unidentified attackers came and opened fire on him. He died instantly.

Australian among 7 die in Indian train fire

 Seven people including a four-year-old girl and an Australian woman died when a fire swept through an overnight train in eastern India early on Tuesday, officials said.
Four female researchers from Australia were travelling to the Buddhist holy city of Bodh Gaya. One died in the blaze and the three others were being treated for burns in hospital, rail divisional manager Sudhir Kumar told AFP.
"Seven persons were charred to death and more than 12 injured after the fire broke out in an air-conditioned coach and then spread to another coach," Kumar said, adding that one Australian survivor was in a critical condition.
The train was travelling from Kolkata to the northern town of Dehradun when it caught fire in Jharkhand state.
Police said the cause of the blaze was not known.
"Two officers from the Australian High Commission will travel to Kolkata on the next flight available to provide consular assistance to the three Australians, and to seek more information regarding the fourth Australian," a spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said, according to the Australian Associated Press.
Accidents are frequent on the state-owned Indian railways, still the main form of long-distance travel despite fierce competition from private airlines.
The network operates 9,000 passenger trains carrying some 18.5 million passengers every day.

Bill against child molestation adopted

 The National Assembly witnessed a little verbal clash among the members of parliament from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Muttahida Qaumi Movement over the issue of allegations levelled against Altaf Hussain.
Besides, the controversial memo issue was slightly discussed by only one member of the house. The house also adopted a bill to amend the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and code of criminal procedure, 1898, (the criminal law, amendment) bill, 2011 regarding punishment for a person who molests an underage and commits unnatural or carnal intercourse. It was moved by PPP MNA Justice (Retd) Fakhar-un-Nisa.
PML-N legislator Qudsia Arshad was the only MNA, who on point of order demanded of the judicial commission to investigate the matter of memo. ?It is an important matter and the commission should conduct probe into it so as to unmask the faces behind the controversy,? she added.
Raising the issue about Zulfiqar Mirza, MNA from MQM Sajid Ahmed said Pir Mazharul Haq had claimed that the allegations against Altaf Hussain were baseless. ?Pir Mazharul Haq should be called in the house for details,? he added. On this, PML-N legislator Shireen Arshad said Zulfiqar Mirza was a respectable person, as he informed the nation about the extortionist and corrupt mafia on oath. She said all of his documents should also be shared with the nation.
Another MNA from PML-N Rohail Asghar was of the view that four incidents of swearing on Quran by the government ministers happened, due to which the country was facing acts of terrorism, killings and other issues. He said it should not be practiced in politics.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, responding to the point raised by the MNAs on human rights issue, informed that Punjab was at the top of the list in crime rate, as 6242 murders, 192 kidnappings and over 2000 rape cases were witnessed in 2010. He said the provinces should take steps to control crimes. Earlier, MNAs Muhammad Pervaiz, Nisar Tanveer, Tasneem Siddiqui, Shireen Arshad Khan and Nighat Parvin expressed their concerns on human rights issues.
Speaking on point of order, PML-N legislator Abdul Qadir Baloch demanded investigation into the reason for terrorist attacks on armed forces, which claimed several precious lives. He said the parliamentary committee on Karachi and Balochistan brought no fruitful results and it should be probed. On it, PPP chief whip Khursheed Shah said dates were fixed for visiting Balochistan, however the visit was delayed as most of the committee members went to perform Haj. Speaking on point of order, PPP-S Chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao drew the attention of the house towards Lowari Tunnel project, saying that work had been stopped on it.
Responding to the issue of Lowari Tunnel, Minister for Communication Dr Arbab Alamgir said work on Lowari Tunnel project would be started soon after payment of Rs two billion. He said the Korean company had stopped work on the project due to shortage of funds, but now after receiving Rs two billion the work would be resumed.
On the issue of urea fertilizer, which would be debated in the house today (Wednesday), Parliamentary Secretary for Industries Pir Haider Ali Shah, while responding to queries on a call attention notice by different MPs, said that local production of urea fertilizer in the country was four lakh ton, which was more than the requirement.
In response to a question by notice of Yasmeen Rehman and other legislators, he said the government was purchasing urea from international market at Rs 3000 per bag and was providing Rs 1300 to Rs 1500 subsidy on each urea sack. He said in order to control the shortage, two lakh metric ton urea had reached Karachi and five lakh metric ton would arrive till December. He said it was also a responsibility of the provinces to take initiatives against smuggling. While, MNA Raza Hiraj said a resolution was moved to debate on urea fertilizer issue on Wednesday. It was against the rule 259 to take business on this matter.
The National Assembly also offered Fateha for martyred personnel of security forces in Balochistan. Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada requested the house to offer Fateha for the security forces personnel, who embraced martyrdom in the line of duty and former minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi led the Fateha. Earlier, a bill moved by MNA Justice (Retd) Fakhar-un-Nisa Khoker regarding amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the code of criminal procedure 1898 (the criminal law, amendment) bill 2011 was laid in the house. The statement of objects and reason says that ?Child-molestation is increasing in different places in the country and even at public places, like bus stands, railway stations, roadside hotels or other hotels, children are molested and the molestation has become a business that is run at the cost of future of innocent, poor and needy children. It requires harsh measures to control it and punish the person involved in such heinous business.?
Meanwhile, MNA Nauman Sheikh on the behalf of ANP President Asfandyar Wali presented this report on the bill to provide of preservation, protection and assertion of sovereignty of Pakistan (the sovereignty of Pakistan bill 2010) moved by Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada and to the committee on 12th January 2010.
The 18-member committee comprising Asfandyar Wali, Palwasha Khan, Farahnaz Isphahani, Fuazia Habib, Nauman Islam Sheikh, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah, Mir Amir Ali Kahn Magsi, Aftab ahmed, Ayza Amir, Raja Muhammad Asad, Humair Hayat Khan Rokhri, Muhammad Hamza Shabaz Sharif, Fasisal Saleh Hayat, Ghias Ahmed Mela, Rana Asif Tauseef, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman, and other members. The committee in its meeting held on January 21, 2011 considered the bill in details. The majority of the members did not approve the said bill and recommended that the same may not be processed with by the National Assembly for legislation.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the considered bill, ?there are many forces both inside and outside Pakistan who are weakening the defence of Pakistan and endangering the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. A vulnerable economic situation is being used to force Pakistan to take the steps, which are not in the national interest. It is, therefore, necessary to enact this law.
Definitions: In the act, unless there is anything repugnant to the subject or contact (a) ?Armed forces? means the army, navy and air force of Pakistan?.(b) ?Foreign country? means a country other than Pakistan; (c) ?Parliament? means the National Assembly and the Senate; and (d) ?President? means the president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
According to the certificate to be issued by the president:(i) The sovereignty and dignity of Pakistan have not been compromised in any manner (ii) No compromise has been made on security or effectiveness of the nuclear program of Pakistan (iii) No understanding has been reached with any foreign country for interference in the change of command or promotions in the Pakistan Armed forces or in the structure or rule of the security forces of Pakistan (iv) No conditionality has been accepted from any source to weaken the defence of Pakistan against foreign aggression.

Bush, Blair guilty in Malaysia �war crimes trial'

 Former US president George W Bush and British ex-prime minister Tony Blair were Tuesday found guilty at a mock tribunal in Malaysia for committing "crimes against peace" during the Iraq war.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, part of an initiative by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad -- a fierce critic of the Iraq war -- found the former leaders guilty after a four-day hearing.
"The Tribunal deliberated over the case and decided unanimously that the first accused George Bush and second accused Blair have been found guilty of crimes against peace," the tribunal said in a statement.
"Unlawful use of force threatens the world to return to a state of lawlessness. The acts of the accused were unlawful."
Mahathir, who stepped down in 2003 after 22 years in power, unveiled plans for the tribunal in 2007 just before he condemned Bush and Blair as "child killers" and "war criminals" at the launch of an annual anti-war conference.
A seven-member panel chaired by former Malaysian Federal Court judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman presided over the trial, which began last Saturday, and both Bush and Blair were tried in absentia.
"The evidence showed that the drums of wars were being beaten long before the invasion. The accused in their own memoirs have admitted their own intention to invade Iraq regardless of international law," it said.
The verdict is purely symbolic as the tribunal has no enforcement powers.
The tribunal is also expected to later hear torture and war crimes charges against seven others, including former US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld and former vice president Dick Cheney.

Butt, Aamir to appear before court for appeal hearing today

  Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamir will appear at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday to contest the sentences imposed on them after being found guilty of spot-fixing earlier this month.
According to reports in the media, "the Court of Appeal will hear their case on November 23 with the Lord Chief Justice presiding." The duo, along with pacer Mohammad Asif, was found guilty by Southwark Crown Court of fixing parts of a Test match against England at Lord's last year after taking money from a bookmaker Mazhar Majeed, who has been sentenced to 32 months in prison.
27-year-old Butt was handed a two-and-a-half year jail term after being found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments while Aamir, 19, is serving a six-month sentence at a young offenders' institute.
Majeed claimed to have paid Asif 65,000 pounds, Butt 10,000 pounds and Aamir 2,500 pounds. The convictions were the first criminal charges ever to have been brought to bear for match-fixing in cricket. In February, all three players were banned from playing for five years by the ICC. They are also appealing against the suspensions.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Co-Ed plan irks females

 The female students were passing under severe mental stress due to a surprise move initiated by the administration of Govt MAO College, which commenced co-education classes of BS (Hons) programme, it was learnt on Tuesday.
The female students complained that the boys often tease them in different ways and disturb them even during the presence of the teachers. They have demanded separate classes of males and females students so they could continue their studies.
The Govt MAO College, which was basically for the boys, started admissions of girls in B.Com and Information Technology (2-year) programme in 2004. In the B.Com (2-year) programme, a number of girls acquired admissions and their classes were separated from the boys.
This programme was suspended with the introduction of BS (Hons) 4-year programme in Commerce and Information Technology last year. However, the girl students continued to take admission in B.S (Hons) 4-year programme in Science, Arts and Commerce including Mass Communication.
The strength of girls was negligible in Science and Commerce while their strength was comparatively fair in Mass Communication discipline.
The girls demanded separate classes from boys due to their strength and they were allowed to study in separate classes in year 2010. However, during the current year after a lapse of two months from the start of the academic session, the administration combined their classes and initiated co-education system. This trend created unrest among the girls. The girls complained that boys were teasing them and disturbing the classroom decorum.
While talking to this scribe, a female student said that they had lodged a complaint to the administration but they refused to accept their demand for separating classes from boys. She said that the outsiders and student union members were also teasing them even in the classrooms. She quoted an event when their classroom was bolted from outside even the presence a female teacher. She further said some of the boys often hurled filthy remarks to the girls and due to which a number of female students had left the college.
It would be interested to mention that there were a fair number of girls in post graduate discipline which had been declared as co-education and the highest number were in Mass Communication, Physiology, Economics and English. There were also complaints of indiscipline and intervention of outsiders in the post graduate bloc where these classes were held.
The girls threaten the administration to boycott the classes from today (Wednesday) if their demands were not fulfilled.

Condemned consultant points finger at staffers

Dr. Majid Naeem on Tuesday categorically explained the hidden hands and reasons behind the errors and failure of online examination system before a Judicial Commission probing flaws in intermediate results
Punjab Boards Chairmen Committee had hired Mr Naeem as contractor for computerize examination system at all eight education boards of Punjab after the termination of Yousaf Samdhani, who earlier failed to run the online system successfully.
National Accountability Bureau officials on Tuesday produced him handcuffed, however, the commission ordered to untie his hands. Dr Naeem was in NAB custody owing to a reference filed against him on charges of misappropriating Rs27, 97,850 in Punjab University?s funds.
Dr. Majid, who did Phd. in IT from Manchester University, informed the Judicial Commission Chairman Justice Shahid Saeed that online system failed due to the old grudge and tussle between the all board employees and former secretary higher education department. He revealed that BISE employees had went on strike and denied to prepare results for Matriculation exams in 2009 in order to press the government for their demands.
However, the Punjab government had detained various employees under section 16 of MPO (maintenance of public order) and these employees nursed the grudge against then HED secretary. He said, to take revenge from the said HED secretary, the board employees used every tactic to create hurdle in success of online examination system. He said ?Booti Mafia? in BISE employees was behind the scene.
Explaining about his arrest by NAB, Dr Majid said he had not misappropriated in the Punjab University Funds. He said admission papers of Punjab University were prepared in 2001 for which the PU VC and university?s college committee made payment but illegally implicated him in the fraud. He said there was no proof against him about alleged embezzlement in PU funds. He said that he resigned from Government College University in protest against the fake admissions made by them registrar.
He said that he was hired by PBCC as contractor against Rs500,000 for four months and he received half of them only. He said he served for 1 year and four months for the BISEs but could get only 220,000 only. He said the same task, PBCC has give to the Pakistan Telecommunication Limited for Rs15 million.
Responding to queries of the commission, he denied the all allegations leveled upon him by former and serving chairmen of eight education boards and said he had no role in the affairs of the boards like sales and purchase of computer accessories and was given task of consultancy and only maintaining the online system. Online system was the earlier idea of Punjab government and Yousaf Samdhani had failed to run the system, Dr Majid said adding he worked as contractor only.
Dr. Majid also rejected the allegations that he took commission by making purchase of different computer accessories. He said he had nothing to do with purchasing as it was the BISEs responsibility to purchase the items. He said the accusers should show a single receipts of purchasing with his signature which proves that he used to purchase. He said even he gave recommendations for cancellation of various tenders for purchasing of unnecessary computer devices.
Revealing another reason behind the failure of online system, Dr Majid said the BISE authorities had charged Rs100 per student and collected more than Rs300 million.
The authorities in a bid to hide this collection by not mentioning it in their accounts, made unnecessary purchasing and wasted the money. Later on, these board officials claimed that the purchase was done on his order, Dr Majid revealed.
System Annalists and Computer experts of all BISEs were taken on board and he had been briefing the chairmen of the BISEs and their IT consultants with the progress in the work and never bypassed them, Dr Majid said adding all chairmen did not know ABC of the computer and had been briefed in their own language.
Clarifying about the commission?s query on designed answer sheets and admission forms used for online examination system, Dr Majid said to reduce the burden of students he decrease the admission form from 6 pages to only 1 page and made the bubble filling optional which was also be filled by teachers, not only by the students.
He presented a letter before the commission and stated that he had requested the BISEs employees in written to prepare results manually too. He said not only they did not prepared results manually but also did not used his introduced computer software which could not handle the huge data base of hundred of students.
Lahore BISE Store Superintendent Tahir appeared before the commission and said Dr Majid cancelled various tenders terming them useless. He said different items were purchased by Dr Majid but he has not proves of such purchasing. At this the commission ordered him to appear on Thursday with proves.
He also admitted that bar code readers were purchased with lesser rates on recommendations of Dr Majid instead of higher rates by different companies finalized by BISE?s authorities. The commission will resume the proceeding on November 24.

Confusion prevails on TTP truce

 Confusion prevailed Tuesday after foreign news agency quoted an unnamed senior TTP (Tehrike Taliban Pakistan) commander claiming that the movement has declared a ceasefire and halted attacks around the country since October in support of peace talks with the government.
Reacting to the news, the TTP spokesman Ihsan Ullah Ihsan strongly rejected the news and said the TTP has not made any such declaration. ?How can you believe the news when it doesn?t name the source,? he said, adding that the statement has neither been given by TTP Ameer Hakimullah Mehsud nor any other responsible member.
Staff reporter from Islamabad adds: The Pakistan Army Tuesday strongly denied news reports that it was engaged in negotiations with TTP or its affiliated groups.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) strongly refuted news reports that claimed that the Pakistani government and military were engaging in peace talks that could end a wave of bombings. ?The army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP or its affiliated militant groups,? the ISPR spokesperson said. ?Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded,? he added. Any contemplated negotiation/reconciliation process with militant groups has to be done by the government, the spokesperson said.
However, adding credence to TTP was no other than Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who said the government was not directly holding talks with the Taliban, but some messages have been sent by Taliban, which should be reviewed by all the stakeholders.
The minister told reporters that ?few days back we also received a message from Taliban for talks and yes we also offered them. We are happy they have realized that killing of innocent people is wrong and the only way forward is the path of peace.? The minister said he cannot say much on this national issue and added that all the stakeholders would sit together to find an amicable solution.
He said the delegation of Afghan investigators will arrive in Pakistan to probe the killing of ex-Afghan President Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, adding that government would extend required assistance to the investigators.
On the memo scam, Malik said the issue was under investigation and anyone found involved in the scam would be punished, adding that very soon everything will be clear.
He said that Ambassador Husain Haqqani?s name was not put on the ECL because the issue is under investigation.

Dacoits continue their looting spree in City

 Dacoits on Tuesday continued their looting spree, robbed two houses, looted motorists, families, and passers-by at gunpoint and fled away after collecting cash, gold ornaments, and other valuables worth Rs 2 million during 15 times successful strikes in different parts of the City, police sources said.
Five dacoits equipped with automatic weapons barged into a residence (House No 13, Ali Street) of Faisal in Mustafa Town police area when all the family members were sleeping. The bandits held up the children and female members at gunpoint and took away cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth Rs 210,000 at gunpoint.
Three gunmen forced their entry into a house (No 15, Street No 7) of one Shahbaz in Kahna police area and snatched away cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth Rs 500,000 after holding the inmates hostage at gunpoint.
A car-rider, Nauman, along with his wife was on his way home after attending a wedding party when two motorcyclists intercepted him in Nawan Kot police precincts. The robbers held up the couple at gunpoint and escaped after collecting cash and gold ornaments worth Rs 70,000.
Two motorcyclists held up Mrs Javed in Y-Block, the precincts of Defense-A police area, and snatched away cash and gold ornaments worth Rs 115,000 at gunpoint.
Two motorcyclists held up one Majid near fruit and vegetable market in Ravi Road police limits and deprived him of Rs 16,000 at gunpoint.
Two gunmen riding on a motorcycle intercepted Imran in Shadbagh police jurisdiction and snatched away Rs 70,000 from him. In another incident, two gunmen held up Kashif at gunpoint in Sabzazar police area and deprived him of Rs 45,000.
Two robbers deprived one Irshad of Rs 45,000 at gunpoint in Yakki Gate police precincts while two gunmen snatched away a motorcycle (LEX-3550) from Imran in Shahdara police area. Rehan was coming back after withdrawing Rs 150,000 from a bank when two motorcyclists intercepted him in Faisal Town police area. The robbers deprived him of the cash at gunpoint. Another car-rider, Liaqat Ali, along with his family was coming back after attending a wedding party, when two gunmen intercepted him in Chuhng police area. The bandits took out gun and snatched away cash and gold ornaments worth Rs 200,000 from the victims at gunpoint. Zafar told Hanjarwal police that he was coming back after withdrawing Rs 250,000 from a bank when two gunmen held him up and snatched away the cash.
Two motorcyclists stopped Khurrum in Millat Park police area and snatched away cash and valuables worth Rs 95,000 from him. Another two gunmen held up Adnan at gunpoint in Nawab Town police area and snatched away Rs 35,000 from him.
Two motorcyclists held up Riasat Ali in Gulshan-e-Ravi police area and snatched away cash and mobile phone worth Rs 55,000 from him.

Egyptians gather for mass protest

 Tens of thousands of protesters swarmed Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday to demand an end to military rule, heightening tension amid deadly clashes that threaten to derail parliamentary elections next week.
"Leave!" the huge crowd urged military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi from the iconic central plaza, where 10 months ago the same call toppled his long-time boss Hosni Mubarak.
One protester hung an effigy of a man in military uniform on a lamp post with a sign that read "the execution of the field marshal."
The Tahrir Square rally came after days of deadly clashes pitting police against protesters demanding democratic change.
Sporadic confrontations continued on the outskirts of the square on Tuesday, with police using batons, tear gas and birdshot to disperse demonstrators.
As the crowd massed, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was locked in crisis talks with political groups and discussed the possibility of appointing a new premier after the resignation of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's cabinet -- which has yet to be accepted.
According to a military source, the two names touted were former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei and Abdelmoneim Abul Futuh, a presidential hopeful and former member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organised political force, had said it would take part in the talks but there was no indication if those driving the protests attended.
Egypt's military ruler said that presidential elections will be held by end of June 2012, and that a referendum on the immediate transfer of power would be organised if necessary.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who took power when Hosni Mubarak was ousted, said in a televised address that he had accepted the cabinet's resignation, a week before crucial legislative polls which he said would be held on schedule.
"The people want the downfall of the regime," they shouted, echoing the Arab Spring signature chant.
According to the health ministry, at least 28 people have been killed since Saturday, when the security forces first resorted to tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot in an bid to subdue the protests, with demonstrators responding by throwing stones and petrol bombs at riot police.
Hundreds have been injured in the protests that spread from Cairo to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and the canal cities of Ismailiya and Suez.
The United States said it was "deeply concerned" by the violence and called for democratic elections, as watchdog Amnesty International charged the SCAF's record on human rights was worse than that of the Mubarak regime.
Egypt's main stock market index closed down 4.77 percent after trading on the bourse had been suspended for one hour when the main EGX-30 index fell 172.82 points to touch 3,688.17 points, according to the Egyptian Exchange website.
Egypt's military-appointed cabinet of civilian officials announced its resignation late on Monday, but state television quoted a SCAF source as saying this was rejected by the military.
The SCAF said it had asked the justice ministry to set up a committee to probe the violence, and called on "all forces and citizens to commit to (restoring) calm, and creating an atmosphere of stability with the goal of pursuing the political process."
The Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party said it would not participate in Tuesday's protest, a decision it said stemmed from its "desire not to pull people towards fresh bloody confrontations with the parties that are seeking more tension."
Tuesday's rally was called by the activist groups which spearheaded the popular uprising that forced Mubarak out of office.
In a Facebook page for the rally, the groups called for the immediate resignation of Sharaf's cabinet and the formation of a "national salvation" government.
Several politicians, including ElBaradei, have urged the military to review its plans for the transfer of power to civilians, by organising a presidential election before the parliamentary polls which are due to begin next Monday and extend over several months.
But the Muslim Brotherhood, although highly critical of the military rulers, is against any postponement of the legislative vote, feeling it is in a strong position.
The military is also coming under pressure from abroad to halt the violence, with US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland calling for "free, fair elections," and expressing the hope that the polls would remain on schedule.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon urged the military council to "guarantee" civil liberties and he deplored the deaths in the clashes.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Faiza�s painting exhibition opens in City

 ?Impalpable Ballads? a solo painting exhibition of Faiza Khan opened here at The Collectors Galleria on Tuesday.
On the occasion, about 20 art pieces, mostly oil on canvas, were displayed. Talking about her work the artist said, ?My recent work is a manifestation of personal self, social-political activities and abomination faced by humanity. I strive to highlight an eclipsed journey of emotions, which often depicts the oscillating conditions of women between integrity, grace and benediction, isolation, oppression and struggle for a life liberated from fear. The figures dance a metaphorical element in compositions reflecting emotional landscape of the mind mingled with mystery.
I endure to probe and aspire to the value of a human life and revolution at all levels geared toward fighting oppression, inequality and discrimination so as to break boundaries to encourage dialogue. By encountering and recognizing the hypocrisies of society, its injustice and unequal structures, I transform some expressions on the canvas, hoping for essential changes and freeing the mind and spirit from inner turmoil, intellectual suppression, and injustice that confines a person specially women in a South Asian society.?
The exhibition will remain open till November 26.

Fakhar Imam joins Jaago Tehreek

 Former Speaker National Assembly Syed Fakhar Imam and Istaqlal Party President Manzoor Gillani joined Jaago Tehreek on Tuesday, a campaign against the corrupt, dual nationality holders and inactive politicians, who could not deliver as they promised during their public meetings at the time of elections and caused heavy financial losses to Pakistan.
Jaago Tehreek campaign had been initiated by former PPP Minister Qayyum Nizami, with the participation and support of former Secretary Foreign Affairs Shamshad Ahmed Khan, Agricultural Scientist Dr Muhammad Sadiq, Member Privatisation Commission Eng. Iftikharul Haq, Secretary General, Pakistan Visionary Forum Zubair Sheikh and Eng. Abdul Majeed Khan. According to a press release issued here on Tuesday, Jaago Tehreek was going to educate the public at large before the next general elections through seminars and peaceful demonstrations. Besides, honest and patriotic political leaders will be invited to join Jaago Tehreek to make it more effective.
The main objectives of Jaago Tehreek were to eliminate corrupt, dual nationality holders and non performers from their access to the parliament of Pakistan in the forthcoming elections.

FBR asked to address income tax issues

The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Tuesday demanded of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to address the income tax issues faced by the small traders.
Shahid Zaman Shinwari, Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has said that the requirement of Form D relating to the personal expenditures of individual tax payers which includes the details of expenditures on personal phones other utilities, children education and other personal expenditures have been demanded.
Although it is a step forward for the documentation of economy but there was great trust deficit exists between the taxpayers and tax officials. Small traders are frightened as this step may also leads to tax harassment, Shahid Zaman Shinwari, has stated this in a statement.
On the demand of small traders, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged the FBR to take small traders in confidence so that they could file their returns and deposit the tax in the government treasury.
He emphasised on winning the public confidence by improving governance and eradicating corruption while pursuing equitable tax policies were essential for revamping tax collection system and unless some concrete measures were taken on these lines, the anxiety about not being able to pull the economy out of mounting debt and public expenditure would linger.

Five FC men killed in Dera Bugti blast

At least five people, including three personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) and two of Tribal Peace Force (TPF), were reportedly killed and nine others wounded in a remote controlled bomb attack in Dera Bugti district on Tuesday.
As per reports reaching here, personnel of Frontier Corps and Tribal Peace Force were escorting some engineers and were passing from Jano Beri area of Dera Bugti when explosives planted along the road exploded soon after the convoy passed by. As a result, three personnel of Frontier Corps and two personnel of TPF were killed and nine others, including engineers, sustained serious wounds, they added.
The deceased and injured were moved to nearby hospital where condition of some injured was stated to be critical. ?Some local and Chinese engineers were also among injured,? sources said.
However, when contacted, Deputy Commissioner Naseerabad Shoib Jadoon said some officials of Chinese companies and local employees escorted by FC were on their way, when the FC vehicle hit a land mine in Gopat area near Sui resulting in damaging of vehicle with no casualty.
?Chinese engineers remained unhurt as their vehicle was away from blast site,? he added.
Frontier Corps spokesman, rejecting the attack, said no Chinese engineers were working in Pat Feeder area of Sui.
?Reports regarding attack on FC vehicle are completely baseless,? he added.
Law enforcement agencies rushed to the site and cordoned off the area to trace the suspects out. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
In another incident, explosives planted at Sariab Road, Quetta went off with a big bang.
Police said unidentified people had planted explosives with a shop near Sariab Mill which exploded and smashed windowpanes of nearby building. However, no loss of life occurred in the blast.
Police and personnel of bomb disposal squad rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the area. ?1.5 kilogram explosives were used in the blast,? BDS officials said.
Police have registered a case and started investigation into the incident.

Gaddafi son to face trial in Libya

Libya will not hand over Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son Saif al-Islam to the International Criminal Court for trial, a minister said Tuesday as the war crimes court's prosecutor visited the country.
"In a nutshell, we are not going to hand him over," interim justice minister Mohammed al-Allagui said when asked about Saif, who was captured in Libya's far-flung Saharan south on Saturday after three months on the run.
Trying Saif "is the special responsibility of the Libyan courts. It is the prerogative of the Libyan courts. It is a question of our sovereignty over our territory and our citizens," said Allagui.
His comments came as the ICC's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was in Tripoli for talks on jurisdiction in the cases of Saif and Gaddafi's spymaster Abdullah al-Senussi, both of whom are wanted by the court on charges of crimes against humanity.
Allagui said the prosecutor was very welcome to have a meeting with Saif al-Islam in custody to allay concerns that he might be subjected to ill-treatment after his father was killed when he was captured last month.
"If he (Moreno-Ocampo) asked for one, he would be most welcome," the minister said.
But asked by AFP whether he expected to meet Saif during his current visit, the ICC prosecutor said: "No."
The Gaddafi son is being held in the mainly Berber hill town of Zintan, in the Nafusa mountains some 170 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Tripoli.
It was fighters from the town who captured Saif on Saturday.
After talks in Libya's second-largest city Benghazi on Tuesday, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said she had received assurances there would be no retaliatory mistreatment of Gaddafi's longtime heir apparent.
"The officials with whom I met assured me that Saif al-Islam was being held safely in a secure location, that he was being well treated and humanely treated... and that he would be tried and treated in a fair fashion and held accountable according to international standards," she said.
"So that was a clear-cut commitment that was made by the senior officials with whom I met," the US ambassador added.
Asked whether Washington had put any pressure on Libya's new authorities to hand Saif over for trial by the ICC in The Hague, Rice said: "We first of all think that these are issues for the Libyan people to determine."
Ahead of his trip, Moreno-Ocampo had said: "The issue of where the trials will be held has to be resolved through consultations with the court.
"In the end, the ICC judges will decide, there are legal standards which will have to be adhered to," he added.
Libya's ruling National Transitional Council insists that Saif be brought to Tripoli where he could face the death penalty.
NTC officials have yet to indicate their intentions regarding Senussi, who has been detained at a secret location and not seen in public since his capture.
Described as Gaddafi's "de facto prime minister", Saif is accused of implementing a brutal plan to put down Libya's uprising "by any means possible," ICC judges said in the document that authorised the arrest warrant issued against him in June.
As the most influential person in Gaddafi's inner circle, he "exercised control over crucial parts of the state apparatus, including finances and logistics," they added.
Senussi, the ousted leader's brother-in-law, has been described by the ICC as "one of the most powerful and efficient organs of repression of Muammar Gaddafi's regime" and is wanted for his role particularly in the former rebel-held city of Benghazi.
He is also wanted in France where a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in 1999 over an attack on a French UTA airliner a decade earlier that killed 170 people.
The ICC, which received the green light to probe crimes in Libya through a UN Security Council resolution on February 26, can only prosecute perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity if a country itself is unwilling or unable to do so.
Moreno-Ocampo's office said on Tuesday that it was continuing its investigation in Libya, which is nevertheless not a signatory to the ICC.
The prosecutor had said in May that another charge of war crimes, which included alleged rapes and attacks since the end of February, would be the subject of a separate investigation.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Gloria Arroyo sued for massacre

 Relatives of some of the 57 people killed in the Philippines' worst political massacre sued then-president Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday for arming and supporting the alleged murderers, their lawyer said. The civil suit seeking 15 million pesos ($345,000) in damages will force Arroyo to fight another tough legal battle, after police charged her last week with conspiring to rig the 2007 senatorial elections. The lawyer for relatives of 15 victims who filed the suit, Harry Roque, said it was filed on Tuesday with a Manila court, deliberately timed to raise public awareness ahead of Wednesday's two-year anniversary of the massacre.
Government prosecutors allege that leaders of the Ampatuan family, who ruled the southern province of Maguindanao, orchestrated the massacre to stop a political rival from challenging them in local elections.
"She enabled the Ampatuans to do what they did by arming them, by legitimising their private army, by giving them aid and by giving them political support," Roque told AFP.
The patriarch of the family, Andal Ampatuan Snr, was governor of Maguindanao and a member of Arroyo's ruling coalition at the time of the massacre.
Arroyo's government had given the Ampatuans military hardware and allowed them to run their own private army of a few thousand men as a proxy force in the fight against secessionist Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines.
Arroyo was forced to cut all ties with the Ampatuans following the murders.
Ampatuan Snr is in detention and on trial over the murders, along with his son and namesake, who is accused of leading more than 100 gunmen in detaining the victims and massacring them on a secluded rural road in Maguindanao.
The trial is expected to last years and victims' relatives have expressed growing frustration at the slow pace of the criminal proceedings.
One of Arroyo's lawyers, Ferdinand Topacio, responded to the lawsuit by insisting his client had no direct link to the killings.
"We firmly believe that former president Arroyo has no responsibility for the Maguindanao massacre," Topacio said on GMA television.
Arroyo's legal spokesman, Raul Lambino, also said the civil suit was simply harassment, coming as the ailing ex-president had to face the vote-rigging charges.
"We consider that as the latest of a series of attempts to put the squeeze on the Arroyos," Lambino said on ABS-CBN television.
President Benigno Aquino, who won presidential elections last year in a landslide after vowing to fight corruption, has made pursuing Arroyo the top priority of his anti-graft campaign.
His aides have said Arroyo will likely have to face many more charges for corrupt acts she allegedly committed while she was president from 2001 to 2010. She has denied all wrongdoing.

Gold rallies but debt woes dominate

 Gold recovered strongly on Tuesday as buyers from China saw value in lower prices and as panic over western world debt subsided in the wider financial markets, lessening the need to sell gold to raise dollar funding.
But the respite was seen as temporary, with investors rattled by the continuing stress on euro zone debt markets, and also by the apparent inability of U.S. officials to come to grips with debt in their own economy.
A bipartisan U.S. deficit-reduction committee abandoned on Monday a three-month effort to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, although rating agencies were holding off taking immediate action on the U.S. rating.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Spain?s Treasury paid the highest yields in 14 years to issue short-term bills while German bunds recovered, indicating concerns that the euro zone may struggle to find a solution to the debt crisis in time. Spot gold gained more than 1 percent to trade at $1,697.69 an ounce by 1125 GMT, off the four-week low of $1,665.88 hit on Monday. The gold has lost nearly 5pc over this week and last. US gold also rose more than 1pc to $1,697.70.
?There was a lot more activity in the Asian market this morning and (there?s) the less aggressive selling across all asset classes, including gold,? said Credit Suisse analyst Tom Kendall. ?Running up to today gold?s been suffering because it?s a source of cash, of U.S. dollars. When balance sheets are under stress if you need to raise dollars and you?re holding gold it?s an easy instrument to use.?
The dollar slipped versus a currency basket on Tuesday as global equities paused their sell-off, but the U.S. currency remained near a six week high as European banks scrambled to secure cash dollars amid funding strains.
A strong dollar usually makes dollar-priced gold costly for European investors, weighing on gold. In addition, the need to sell gold to raise dollars to cover losses in other markets has in recent days over-ridden gold?s traditional appeal as a safe haven asset that holds its value in times of economic or political turmoil.
Going forward however, safe haven plays could put a floor under gold prices, especially if the metal suffers sharp falls and starts to look appealing to investors in Asia and in top gold buyer India.
?Fundamentally, gold is not looking that bad, especially were risk aversion to escalate, with investors returning to the ultimate safe haven asset. We still believe in limited losses for gold after the ongoing price correction,? said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.
Buying from China emerged in the Shanghai market overnight, though gold demand in India was subdued as a weakening rupee kept buyers at bay, further deterred by a rebound in local prices due to gains in overseas markets.
In other precious metals traded, spot silver rose 0.35 percent to $31.75 an ounce, recovering from a one-month low of $30.63 hit in the previous session.
China?s trade data revealed that the country?s silver imports slumped 26 percent in October from a year earlier. The inflow of silver powder, used in the photovoltaic industry, dropped 20 percent.
?The (photovoltaic) sector had provided some support to silver prices, but in light of the concern about industrial demand, this is an element that has now softened, thus increasing the importance of investment demand to make up for the fundamental surplus,? said Barclays in a research note.
?However, investment demand in silver has also slowed recently, leaving prices more vulnerable to the downside.?
Spot platinum rose 0.73 percent to $1,557.24 an ounce, while spot palladium rose 1.15 percent to $591.47 an ounce.

Govt must not protect thieves: SC

The government should not protect the thieves and support a ?black law?, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Tuesday while heading a full-court hearing of NRO review case.
As 17-member-bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday continued hearing the review petition on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), the chief justice queried as to how the NRO could be defended despite attorney general?s terming it a black law. The court questioned that when the federal government was not affected by the December 16, 2009 apex court judgment on NRO, why it had filed a review petition.
?The state should not support the black and the stinking law,? the chief justice observed, adding that it was the federation and not a political party that filed the petition, and if someone has any grievance over the court judgement, he or she should come forward instead of the government. Thousands of people took benefit of the NRO but nobody took recourse to the court nor was the court ruling on the ordinance challenged, he added.
?Will the government protect the one who conceal corruption and pardon any such offence?? the chief justice questioned, adding that federal government wants to give ?premier of the corruption? to those who have remained involved in corruption.
Giving arguments before the bench, former federal law minister Babar Awan, whom the court allowed to appeal the case on behalf of the federation on merit, said the government does not even acknowledge the NRO as its repercussions are not good. He further said notices are taken on various news reports; an affront to a lawyer should also be taken note of, adding the federal government believes in transparent and candid accountability. ?I will talk about accountability and not raise a political slogan for the elimination of corruption,? he added.
In his arguments, Awan said that it is a court order that the accused cannot be punished in absentia and that is why closed cases cannot be reopened. Similarly, the SC cannot instruct the federation to reopen cases abroad. Awan maintained that the attorney general in the recent past had written the letter to the (Swiss) authorities without taking advice.
The function of the attorney general for Pakistan was abused, said Babar Awan. He held that the court had ignored the law of past and close transaction, adding that neither the court had authority to reopen overseas cases to investigation nor it can instruct the federation to reopen cases abroad.
The chief justice questioned if the government is backing a law under which corruption flourished. He further said that a federation gains popularity if it does not support a black law and appreciated the current parliament for not approving the NRO.
On a point that NRO was not the deal between two parties but the then cabinet had fully approved it and was legally promulgated by the then president, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja asked Awan whether he wanted to say that NRO was a legal law and should be enacted again. The learned counsel said no there were certain points, which he would not press, and it was on of those.
The chief justice said earlier the federation was insisting that people who have benefited from NRO should be tried in accordance with law, but now the federation defending the corrupt people. He said: ?When the federation is coming to the defence of NRO we are very much disturbed.?
Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmany said: ?If an individual is aggrieved by the judgment of this court then he should come forward but not in the garb of the federation.? Justice Nasirul Mulk remarked that those who benefited from NRO should be tried in accordance with the law.
Justice Saqib Nisar said that the persons who have plundered the national wealth are talking about the past and closed transaction, which undoubtedly apply in this case as documents of corruption are available. The court said that the federation could not protect any thief and criminal.
Babar Awan responded that the PPP has not protected corrupt persons, while in the past people were not only protected, but over protected. He said the federation complain is that they were not heard properly. Justice Jawwad asked Babar Awan: ?We understand you will stand by the stand taken by the federal government earlier. The learned counsel said that the federation stands for accountability and no vengeance.
The Chief Justice asked the former law minister to show a single word from the judgment where the court has condemned the federation or the verdict adversely operating against the federation. He added that the court has rather helped the federal government in recovering plundered and looted national wealth. In Rental Power Plant case Rs4.5, given to Reshma as advance was recovered. He stated the federation led by Yousuf Raza Gilani should not support NRO.
When former law minister pleaded that federation represent the will of the people. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said you mean to say that federation is for the masses and it has to take care of everyone and in the masses there are thieves and murderers, and if it would not protect them then who would defend them?
Babar Awan said the words that late Benazir Bhutto entered into a deal with Musharraf should be expunged from the NRO judgment. He said late Benazir Bhutto entered into deal not in personal capacity, but was representing the biggest party of the country. He said the PPP the biggest political party represents the will of the people. Justice Sarmad said the federation is not one political party and the chief justice executive of the government does not represent one party but the entire federation. He said if the verdict is against the BB then let come legal heirs of BB come forward.
The chief justice said the president, PM and ministers are for the whole country and not just a party. Justice Muhammad Sair Ali said the PM and ministers take oath not to protect one party but the whole country. Paying tribute to the parliament he said it did not touch the ?stinking law? and it was not validated under the 18th Amendment. He said that people who were affected by the apex court judgment on NRO did not come before the court.
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