Tag Archive | dawn headlines

Protests against fees hike, student killing in Swat and Lahore

SWAT: The students of Jahanzeb College of Swat hold protest demonstration against increment in fees and blocked Syedo Sharif Road.

They were carrying placards and chanted slogans against fees increment. Meanwhile, students of a private university protest killing of fellow student who was hit by a car in Defence area. Two out of three persons traveling in the car that hit the student were arrested whereas third one was managed to flee from the scene.

The students of LUMS said they would continue protest till the arrest of third accused.

The negotiations between police and students in this connection ended at failure till the last reports came in.

IRSA says enough water available for Rabi season

ISLAMABAD: Enough water is available for the Rabi season especially for the crops of sugarcane, cotton and rice beside others as the water level is improving at Tarbela and Mangla ay by day, a senior official of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) said on Monday.

Water level at Mangla, the second largest water reservoir of the country, will cross 100 feet above the dead level in a couple of days as it reached 97 feet on Monday according to expected water inflow.

Water level is improving specially in both the major reservoirs of the country Tarbela and Mangla besides in Kabul river day by day due to impact of snow melting.

According to data released by Indus River System Authority (IRSA), water level at Mangla, the second largest water reservoir of the country was recorded 1136.90 feet which was about 97 feet higher than the dead level which is 1040 feet.

Mangla Dam received total inflow 56, 627 cusecs water on Monday morning and only 35,000 cusecs water was released according to the official data.

However, 1408.80 feet water level was recorded at Tarbela, the largest water reservoir of the country which was more than 40 feet higher than the dead level 1369 at the dam.

Tarbela Dam received a total inflow 42,200 cusecs and only 15,000 cusecs water was released from the Dam.

Water inflow 45,000 cusecs was recorded in the River Kabul and18, 086 cusecs inflow was recorded at Marala of Chenab River.

British boy dies in Venezuela plane crash

CARACAS: A 6-year-old British boy was killed when a small plane carrying British tourists crashed shortly after takeoff from an airstrip near Venezuela’s Angel Falls.

The boy was traveling with eight other British tourists, including his parents, civil protection director Luis Diaz told on Saturday.

He said all 10 survivors on board, including a Venezuelan pilot and co-pilot, were flown to nearby Ciudad Bolivar and were being treated for injures at a hospital. The boy’s aunt, June Holman, said the dead child was 6-year-old Thomas Horne.

The single-engine plane, a Cessna 208 Caravan, crashed Friday afternoon near the runway in the popular tourist destination of Canaima, a national park where they went to visit Venezuela’s famed Angel Falls, Diaz said.

Situation in Swat returning to normal: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday that the situation in Swat was returning to normal and no one including the US should be worried about that.

Talking in Geo news program ‘Capital Talk’, Prime Minister Gilani said that he was not concerned at all with TNSM chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad’s statements. To a question, the prime minister said Pakistan knows well how to safeguard its national interests and the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke should not be worried about situation in Swat.

On lawyers’ long march, Gilani said that the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani phoned Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan with his prior approval.

US plans to stop use of radio stations by Taliban: WSJ

NEW YORK: The Obama administration has begun a broad-based effort to prevent the Taliban from using radio stations and Web sites in Pakistan and Afghanistan to intimidate and threaten civilians.

A report in the Wall Street Journal Saturday says: ‘As part of the classified effort, American military and intelligence personnel are working to jam the unlicensed radio stations in Pakistan’s lawless regions on the Afghanistan border that Taliban fighters use to broadcast threats and decrees.’

The Taliban and other armed groups have carried out a wave of attacks in the two countries. US officials believe the
Taliban enjoy an advantage by being able to freely communicate threats and decrees.

In Pakistan, Taliban leaders use unlicensed FM stations to recite the names of local Pakistani government officials, police officers and other figures who have been marked for death by the group. Hundreds of people named in the broadcasts have later been killed, WSJ said citing US and Pakistani officials.

‘The Taliban aren’t just winning the information war —we’re not even putting up that much of a fight,’ a senior US official in Afghanistan told WSJ. ‘We need to make it harder for them to keep telling the population that they’re in control and can strike at any time.’

A new push to contain the Taliban reflects the influence of Gen. David Petraeus, who runs the military’s Central Command and has long been a major proponent of using psychological operations to reduce popular support for armed Islamist groups.

Besides, the WSJ pointed out Richard Holbrooke, the administration’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, publicly alluded to the new program late last month. He told reporters there were 150 illegal FM radio stations in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which allowed militants to go ‘around every night broadcasting the names of people they’re going to behead or they’ve beheaded.’

Mr. Holbrooke likened the Taliban radio stations to Rwanda’s Radio Mille Collines, a virulently sectarian broadcaster widely believed to have helped fuel the Rwandan genocide. The US considered jamming the station in the 1990s, but ultimately chose not to.

‘Nothing has been done so far’ about impeding the Taliban communications, Mr. Holbrooke said. ‘We have identified the information issue … as a major, major gap to be filled.’

Psychological operations can be controversial. In Iraq, the US personnel are also trying to block the Pakistani chat rooms and Web sites that are part of the country’s burgeoning extremist underground. The Web sites frequently contain videos of attacks and inflammatory religious material that attempts to justify acts of violence, the newspaper said.

The push takes the administration deeper into ‘psychological operations,’ which attempt to influence how people see the US, its allies and its enemies. Officials involved with the new program argue that psychological operations are a necessary part of reversing the deterioration of stability in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Psychological operations have long been a part of war, famously in World War II when ‘Tokyo Rose’ broadcast English-language propaganda to Allied troops. More recently, some militaries have used high-tech methods. During the December-January war in Gaza, Israeli forces sent cellphone text messages to alert Palestinian civilians to impending strikes and encourage them to turn against the militant group Hamas.

The Obama administration’s recently released strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan calls for sending 4,000 US military trainers to Afghanistan and sharply expanding economic aid to Pakistan. The US may also provide radio-jamming equipment to the Pakistani government, according to officials familiar with the plans.

Henry A. Crumpton, a former State Department counterterrorism chief who led the CIA’s Afghanistan campaign in 2001 and 2002, warned against relying too heavily on high-tech solutions such as disrupting militant radio broadcasts.

‘Those can be very effective, but they’re —underscore —short-term tactics,’ he told WSJ.

Still, many military officials believe that stabilising Afghanistan and Pakistan requires gradually diminishing the Taliban’s public standing while simultaneously building popular support for more moderate local political and religious institutions allied with the US

‘It’s not an issue of trying to persuade your average Pakistani farmer to love the US,’ a US official told W SJ. ‘The idea, frankly, is to muddy the water a bit.’

As part of this push, the US has started US-funded radio stations in many rural parts of Afghanistan.

In one example, Army Special Forces teams in eastern Paktia, a restive Afghan province that abuts the Pakistani frontier, put on air a radio station late last year called ‘the Voice of Chamkani,’ referring to the village where the US base is located, and distributed hundreds of radio receivers.

Bomber eliminates 23 troops in Hangu attack

KOHAT: The country’s security apparatus suffered a devastating blow on Saturday when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a military checkpost in Hangu, eliminating 23 soldiers.

Seven policemen, 10 security personnel and nine civilians were injured in the blast.

‘A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into our check-post close to a police station in Doaba,’ a security official said. ‘We suffered the most casualties.’

Some officials said the bomber had rammed his vehicle into a Thall-bound military convoy in Doaba, on Hangu-Parachinar highway.

They said 11 vehicles, which were part of the convoy, had been destroyed in the attack, which happened not far from the army camp. The military, however, denied its convoy had been hit.

Eyewitnesses said security forces cordoned off the area and blocked the Kohat-Parachinar highway at Doaba and nobody was allowed to go near the scene of the explosion.

The army called its own bomb disposal squad from Thall Garrison. The check-post was located on the Hangu-Parachinar road, which remained closed for more than a year when militants blocked the artery to stop food and fuel supplies from reaching Parachinar, the Kurram Agency’s headquarters.

In another incident earlier on Saturday morning, one person was killed and three were injured in a blast in Malikabad area of Hangu bazaar.

The SHO of Doaba police station, Ammal Khan, and constable Asal Murad, who were sitting in a mobile van close to the army camp, were injured.

Police said the bomber had used 100kg of explosives. They blamed the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan for the strike, but the banned militant outfit did not claim responsibility for the bombing.

The dead and the seriously injured were taken to the civil hospital in Hangu and the Combined Military Hospital in Thall, a police spokesman for the Kohat region said.

Preliminary reports suggested that the suicide bomber had come to the area on Friday and took up residence in Hangu. ‘It was in the knowledge of the terrorists that a convoy would pass through the camp on Saturday afternoon,’ a local said.

Hangu has seen bloodletting bred by sectarianism over the past two years. A total of 48 people had died in sectarian clashes during Muharram last year.

The military had carried out a major clean-up operation in Doaba in August last year to flush out militants who had infiltrated from nearby Kurram and Orakzai regions.

Helicopter gunships have been attacking suspected militant hideouts in Orakzai during the last couple of weeks. ‘Most of the casualties are security forces and some policemen have also been killed,’ a security official said.

‘The bomber was driving a pick-up truck which he rammed into a convoy passing by a security checkpost,’ senior police officer Fareed Khan said in Kohat.

President Asif Ali Zardari, who is in China attending an international economic conference, ‘condemned the attack and vowed to root out terrorism and extremism from the country’, the presidency said in a statement.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ‘strongly condemned’ the incident, describing the suicide attack as ‘a cowardly act of terrorism’, his office said in a statement.

Obama urged not to interfere in Pakistan politics

WASHINGTON: The US administration should not interfere in the domestic politics of Afghanistan and Pakistan despite the temptation to do so, the Washington Post said on Saturday.

A senior Post columnist Jim Hoagland noted that one of US President Barack Obama’s senior analysts had been telling think-tanks that ‘President Asif Ali Zardari should step aside and let Nawaz Sharif, his chief rival, take power’.

Mr Hoagland also noted that ‘muttering about ditching Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai was rampant at the White House’ while the administration was reviewing its policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But the writer advises Mr Obama to resist such temptations and not to ‘play power chess on a global scale, bypassing or replacing national leaders who balk at grand US designs’.

The journalist warns that such intervention would be particularly disastrous for Pakistan as it ‘would open Pandora’s box for the rest of your presidency —especially since Mr Sharif seems no more capable or honest than Mr Zardari.’

He urges President Obama not to emulate John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in South Vietnam, or Jimmy Carter in Iran.

‘Micromanaging leadership changes abroad becomes all-consuming,’ he adds. ‘So be economical with your personal investment in volatile situations. You have a capable secretary of state in Hillary Clinton. Give her more of the spotlight and the authority.’

The comments followed newspaper reports that Admiral Mike Mullen and Richard Holbrooke met Mr Sharif last week and assured him that he would be acceptable to the US as a future president or prime minister.

Swat deal to remain intact if peace lasts: Gilani

KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday that Pakistan would coordinate with the United States on its policy to combat terrorism during talks in Washington next month.

The prime minister told a press conference here, after chairing a meeting of the Sindh cabinet, that it was wrong to think that Pakistan did not have a policy on the war on terror. ‘Our policy is ready and President Asif Ali Zardari, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the ISI chief will share it with the US administration.’

In reply to a question about the acrimony between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party following the Swat accord, the prime minister said the two parties had different agenda, but it was his government’s endeavour to defuse the tension.

He said the Swat deal was linked to restoration of peace in the valley. ‘The agreement will remain intact if peace endures,’ he said, adding that the president had signed the Nizam-i-Adl regulation only after 80 per cent peace was restored to Swat.

He said the new accord was an improved version of the agreements signed in 1994 and 1999. He said the government’s reconciliation efforts would strengthen the country’s economy and its institutions and urged political forces to show maturity because the people had voted for a change.

Mr Gilani said Pakistan wanted good relations with neighbouring countries, including Iran, Afghanistan and India.

However, he admitted that the composite dialogue with India had been affected after the Mumbai attacks, but added that efforts were being made to revive the dialogue.

In reply to a question about Sindh government’s demand for announcing the NFC Award before the budget and resolving the issue of GST, Prime Minister Gilani said he would discuss the matter with his Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin.

The Sindh government has said that GST is provincial matter and it should be distributed on the basis of collection or else the provincial governments should be allowed to collect the tax at their own level. It also sough reimbursement of Rs11.374 billion accumulated since 2000 and resolution of the GST issue on services (Central Excise Mode).

The Sindh Sales Tax Ordinance 2000 empowers the federal government to collect the GST on services on behalf of the province. However, proceeds of the tax are being transferred on the basis of population, resulting in transfer of proceeds collected from one province to another.

According to sources, the ordinance did not empower the federal government to transfer proceeds collected from Sindh to other provinces.

Earlier speaking at the Sindh cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Gilani said the federal government would support infrastructure and social sector development projects in Sindh.

Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, federal Food Minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal, provincial ministers, advisers and special assistance to the chief minister attended the meeting.

According to sources, the prime minister said his government was working to restore the 1973 Constitution and implement the Charter of Democracy singed by the PPP and the PML-N.

He said the country’s economy was showing a positive trend because of measures taken by the government.

About the unannounced loadshedding by the KESC, he said the issue would be resolved soon and the people of Karachi would get rid of the
loadshedding with the help of better management and improved efficiency.

The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the law and order situation in Sindh. The chief minister briefed the prime minister about law and order, development schemes and other matters.

Three dead in suspected US strike in Pakistan: officials

PESHAWAR: Three people were killed Sunday in a suspected US missile attack targeting a militant hideout in Pakistan’s tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

‘It was a drone attack,’ local administration official Shahab Ali Shah told AFP. He said two missiles hit a house in Gangi Khel town in the tribal South Waziristan district.

Another official speaking on condition of anonymity said the attack targeted a militant hideout where three people were killed. He gave no details.

A security official confirmed that death toll, saying that five other people were wounded. The targeted house, belonging to a local tribesman, was ‘destroyed in the strike,’ he said.

Three people were killed in a similar attack in the area earlier this month

Pakistan must do more to erase Taliban: US

KABUL: Pakistan must do more to ‘erase’ Taliban bases inside its territory which are destabilising the
entire region, the US commander of Western troops in neighbouring Afghanistan said on Sunday.

US President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged 21,000 more troops to join 39,000 American soldiers fighting Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan.

It has also stepped up attacks by drones on suspected militant bases across the border in Pakistan.

US Army General David McKiernan, who commands more than 70,000 US and Nato-led troops in Afghanistan, said he was confident the new troops would bring improvements in security to southern Afghanistan this year after years of rising violence.

But he described insecurity as a regional problem that could only be resolved by a stronger effort from Pakistan’s embattled government to tackle safe havens for militants.

‘There must be an improved effort on the other side of the border against these safe havens that many of these insurgent groups operate from in Pakistan,’ he told a news conference.

‘There are sanctuary areas that have existed for many years across the border. They feed terrorism and insecurity on both sides of the border,’ McKiernan said.

‘I think it is safe to say there is an expectation that the government of Pakistan must erase these safe havens so that they are not a threat to their own country and the region. They will have the full support of the international community to do that.’

CHALLENGES

Pakistani authorities bristle at any suggestion that they have been lax in battling Taliban guerrillas on their side of the border. They say thousands of Pakistani troops have died fighting militants, and criticism of their effort only serves to increase anti-Americanism and boost support for the militants.

But international concern over Pakistan’s ability to fight the militants has grown in recent months as attacks by militants have increased both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the latest strike in Pakistan, a suicide car bomber killed 25 soldiers and police and two passers-by in on Saturday.

Afghanistan expressed worry last week about the impact on its own security of a decision by Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to accept Taliban demands and impose Islamic law on the Swat valley, where militants have gained ground.

On the Afghan side of the border, Taliban attacks have increased to the highest levels seen since the militants were driven from Kabul in 2001.

‘Challenges, generally, have increased in past years,’

Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak told the news conference in Kabul alongside the US commander.

‘The level of enemy attacks have gone up, there are foreign combatants (in their ranks), the way they operate has become complex, they have access to better training and equipment.’

McKiernan said he would send most of the new US troops to southern provinces near Pakistan that have seen the greatest rise in instability, and he expected the influx to help.

But he said he had no power to intervene on the Pakistani side of the border. ‘Insecurity and instability is a regional problem and will require regional approaches,’ he said.