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WASHINGTON: Top Pakistani military officials are concerned that their ranks have been penetrated by infiltrators aiding terrorists in a campaign against the state, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The top Pakistani military commander, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was shaken by the discovery of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden close to a Pakistani military academy, said the newspaper. He told US officials in a recent meeting that his first priority was “bringing our house in order,” the paper reported, citing an unnamed senior Pakistani intelligence official. “We are under attack, and the attackers are getting highly confidential information about their targets,” the paper quotes the official as saying. Western officials have long accused Pakistan’s intelligence services of playing a double game by fighting terrorists who pose a domestic threat, but protecting those fighting American troops in Afghanistan.
The United States has put pressure on Pakistan to lead a major air and ground offensive in North Waziristan, the most notorious Taliban and al Qaeda bastion, used to launch attacks across the border in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always maintained that any such operation would be at its own time of choosing. It argues that its 140,000 troops committed to the northwest are too stretched those fighting terrorists who pose a domestic threat.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visiting Pakistan on Friday, said the United States was more committed to Pakistan after the bin Laden crisis. But, she urged the country to take decisive steps to defeat al Qaeda. afp
BEIJING — The mutts were destined for the dinner table — all 520 of them crammed onto a truck hurtling down a Beijing highway toward awaiting restaurants in northeastern China.

Then, fate intervened in the form of a passing driver, an animal lover who spotted the truck and angrily forced it off the road.

From there, things began spiraling out of control. News of the confrontation hit the Chinese blogosphere, sending more than 200 animal activists flocking immediately to the highway. Traffic on the road slowed to a standstill. Dozens of police officers were called in. Animal activists, however, kept arriving with reinforcements, carrying water, dog food, even trained veterinarians for a siege that lasted 15 hours.
Weeks later, those who were there still talk in disbelief at how quickly things escalated. But in many ways, it was a battle that has been brewing for years between the rural and the urbanites, the poor and the rich — between China’s dog eaters and its growing number of dog lovers.
The standoff last month has sparked the widest-ranging discussions to date in China over animal rights. Pictures and videos from the incident have spawned endless arguments on e-mail groups and blogs, Web polls and news stories delving into each side’s points.
And the debate is the latest sign of China’s rapidly changing mores and culture. For centuries, dog meat has been coveted for its fragrant and unique flavor; it is an especially popular dish in the winter, when it is believed to keep you warm. But pet ownership has skyrocketed in recent years as China’s booming economy produced a burgeoning middle class with both money and time for four-legged friends. And with the new pet stores, a once powerless animal rights movement is slowly gaining traction.
The highway incident has been its biggest success thus far. The mob of dog lovers finally won the standoff by pooling together more than $17,000 to pay off the truck driver. But their victory was quickly eclipsed when they soon realized they had no idea where to house the hundreds of loud, wild and decidedly not housebroken canines.
Even after combining forces, the handful of animal rights groups in the region had trouble handling the overflow from the truck. Most of the dogs they unloaded were strays, and many were dehydrated, malnourished or suffering from deadly viruses. Several have died since the rescue. Dozens this week remained under treatment at animal hospitals around Beijing.
“We are a small organization. We haven’t even tried to pay the animal hospital bills yet,” said Wang Qi, 32, who works at the China Small Animal Protection Association. “There was so much enthusiasm when the dogs were first rescued, but our worry is, what happens now?”
The trucker, Hao Xiaomao, has not fared any better in the aftermath. Reached by phone in his home province of Henan, Hao said he lost a small fortune, more than $3,000, after being forced into the deal. Worst of all, because he failed to deliver, no one has been willing to hire him since.

“I still don’t understand what was immoral about my shipment. People also eat cow and sheep. What’s the difference?” he asked. Of the activists, he said, “They were just a group of rich bullies who own pets and have nothing better to do.”
Several others have also raised the specter of class warfare — a common meme in modern China amid the widening gap between rich and poor. In online debates, many have noted the symbolic nature of the confrontation: a working trucker forced off the road by a black Mercedes-Benz whose driver was on his way to a resort hotel with his girlfriend.
The issue comes with historical baggage as well, notes Jiang Jinsong, a philosophy professor at Tsinghua University. “During the Cultural Revolution, having a pet was seen as a capitalist activity. Only the rich and arrogant had dogs and allowed them to bite poor people,” he said. “So there’s this implication that if you treated pets well, you will treat those who are weaker badly.”
At least one netizen has taken this argument to the extreme. Enraged by activists fighting for animals while ignoring the plight of so many rural, impoverished Chinese, a man in Guangzhou posted threats online to kill a dog a day until animal activists donate the money they raised to peasants living in poverty instead of to dogs.
“I felt I had to do something to represent the grass-roots people,” said Zhu Guangbing, 35, who recently plastered his threat on Twitterlike microblogs in China. “I grew up in a poor village. We raised one dog to watch the door and one to be killed in the Lunar New Year because we were too poor to buy pork. I don’t understand what’s wrong with that.”
Within days, Zhu found his name, cellphone number, office number, and even his parents’ number posted online.
“My parents got calls condemning them for raising a son like me,” he said, having logged more than 200 threats so far. “One elementary school teacher even called me and had her students insult me over the phone one by one.”
But dog activists have defended their fervor as a necessity. China does not have any laws against cruelty to animals, and by some estimates, as many as 10 million dogs — some vagrant, others stolen pets — are sold for consumption each year and are often kept under horrible conditions.
“People are saying it’s a silly thing protecting animals,” said Wang, the activist. “But it is a question of civilization.
“By teaching people in this country to love little animals, maybe we can help them to love their fellow human beings better.”
But Zhu scoffed at that notion. Last week, he was forced to quit his job after his company began receiving threatening phone calls as well.
“I didn’t even intend to kill dogs. I was just making a point,” he said. “The animal activists claim to have the moral high ground, but look at what they did to me. Can they really say they have love at the front of their heart?”

    Replying a question about Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan said;
"Its American policy that Pakistan should not loose neither use his nuclear weapons"

   With just a week to go before the budget session of the National Assembly, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N on Saturday requisitioned an emergency session of the house to discuss the delay in formation of an independent commission to investigate the Abbottabad raid in which Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed. On May 14, a joint in camera session of the two houses of parliament adopted a unanimous resolution seeking formation of the commission to probe the incident.
The office of opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan issued copies of the requisition notice which, according to it, was signed by 93 opposition members. It has been submitted to the National Assembly secretariat under Article 54 (3) of the Constitution, which requires the speaker to convene the session within 14 days.
The opposition MNAs also submitted a privilege motion to the NA secretariat against the government for not appointing the commission to investigate the May 2 US raid. They said in the motion that 14 days had passed, “but the government has shown no inclination to give respect to any part of the joint resolution”.
The requisition by the PML-N has come only one week before the expected presentation of the federal budget for 2011-12, putting the government in an awkward position.
Izhar Amrohvi, adviser to the parliamentary affairs ministry, said the government could convene the requisitioned session early next week to dispose of the agenda before a fresh session for presentation of the budget on June 3. Otherwise, he added, the speaker would have no choice but to stop the budget debate midway to convene the requisitioned session.
It was after a long and tense arguing for almost five hours that the government and the opposition had reached a consensus on the 12-point resolution condemning the “US unilateral action” as “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty” and calling upon the government to “revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States”.
During an informal chat with reporters on Wednesday, Chaudhry Nisar had hinted at giving a tough time to the government during the forthcoming budget session if it failed to constitute the commission to fix responsibility for the Abbottabad incident.
“The PML-N will react” was his answer to a question about the party’s future strategy if the government failed to constitute the commission for which he said he had already written a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani suggesting the names of some politicians, retired judges and members form the bar, media and civil society.
“The time for doing normal and routine politics is over,” he had said, adding: “The government will have to come out with an explanation on it (implementation of the resolution). Otherwise, there will be a strong reaction during the budget session.” Chaudhry Nisar had also asked the government to convene an “open joint session” of parliament to discuss last week’s terrorist attack on the PNS Mehran base in Karachi, saying his party had decided not to attend any in camera session in future.
Rejecting the new “terms of engagement” agreed with the US, he had urged the government to take parliament into confidence over the issue. He said the armed forces were “guarantors” of the resolution.

(Courtesy by: DAWN NEWS)
U.S. speeds up direct talks with Taliban
The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.

A senior Afghan official said a U.S. representative attended at least three meetings in Qatar and Germany, one as recently as “eight or nine days ago,” with a Taliban official considered close to Mohammad Omar, the group’s leader.

State Department spokesman Michael A. Hammer on Monday declined to comment on the Afghan official’s assertion, saying the United States had a “broad range of contacts across Afghanistan and the region, at many levels. . . . We’re not going to get into the details of those contacts.”

The talks have proceeded on several tracks, including through nongovernmental intermediaries and Arab and European governments. The Taliban has made clear its preference for direct negotiations with the Americans and has proposed establishing a formal political office, with Qatar under consideration as a venue, according to U.S. officials.

An attempt to open talks with the insurgent group failed late last year when an alleged Taliban leader, secretly flown by NATO to Kabul, turned out to be a fraud. “Nobody wants to do that again,” a senior Obama administration official said.

Other earlier meetings between Afghan government representatives and Taliban delegates faltered when the self-professed insurgents could not establish their bona fides as genuine representatives of the group’s leadership.

But the Obama administration is “getting more sure” that the contacts currently underway are with those who have a direct line to Omar and influence in the Pakistan-based Quetta Shura, or ruling council, he heads, according to one of several senior U.S. officials who discussed the closely held initiative only on the condition of anonymity.

The officials cautioned that the discussions were preliminary. But they said “exploratory” conversations, first reported in February by the New Yorker magazine, have advanced significantly in terms of the substance and the willingness of both sides to engage.

Rumors of the talks have brought a torrent of criticism in recent weeks from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s political opponents, who say that he will ultimately compromise Afghan democracy. In one indication of U.S. eagerness to get negotiations moving, however, administration officials described the criticism in positive terms as evidence that Afghans were starting to take the idea of negotiations seriously.

The Taliban, one U.S. official said, is “going to have to talk to both the Afghans and the Americans” if the process is to proceed to the point that it would significantly affect the level of violence and provide what the Taliban considers an acceptable share of political power in Afghanistan.

Such an outcome is likely to be years away, officials said. They said that the United States has not changed its insistence that substantive negotiations be Afghan-led. “The Afghans have been fully briefed” on U.S.-Taliban contacts, an American official said, and “the Pakistanis only partially so.”

Officials said representatives from the Haqqani network, a group of Afghan fighters based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region whom the administration considers particularly brutal and irreconcilable, have had no part in the discussions.

Although U.S. officials have said that Osama bin Laden’s killing by American commandos early this month could facilitate progress, initiation of the discussions predate bin Laden’s death. During a Feb. 18 speech, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States and the Afghan government would no longer insist on a public break between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda as a precondition for talks. Instead, such a declaration could be made at the end of negotiations.

The U.S. and Afghan governments also insist that any settlement process result in an end to Taliban violence and a willingness to conform to the Afghan constitution, including respect for the rights of women and minorities and the rule of law.

Asked what Obama hoped to announce in July, an official said the president would not offer details of any talks. “It would be something like this,” the official said. “ ‘Here’s my plan on troops, here’s my overall vision for Afghanistan. The secretary [Clinton] said we were going to produce some diplomacy and laid out our desire to speak to the enemy. . . . I want to tell the American people . . . we’re making that policy real.’ ”

The Taliban has transmitted its own list of demands, most of them long-standing, another official said. They include the release of up to 20 fighters detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — eight of whom are thought to be designated “high value” by the United States and two of whom have been designated for trials by military commissions — withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, and a comprehensive guarantee of a substantive Taliban role in the Afghan government.

The Taliban proposal of a formal office has raised two immediate questions, one U.S. official said. “One, where is it? Second, what do you call it? Does it say ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ across the door? No. Some people say you can call it a U.N. support office and the Taliban can go sit there.’ ”

“If the Afghans want it in Kabul, that’s okay,” the official said. “If they would support it in Qatar, that’s fine.”

Events over the past six months have contributed to the administration’s determination to get substantive talks underway as well as its belief that a successful political outcome is possible, even if still years away.

In a November meeting, NATO contributors to the 140,000-troop coalition in Afghanistan — all under economic and political pressure to end the long-running war — set the end of 2014 as the deadline for a complete withdrawal of combat troops. By that time, they said, enough Afghan government forces would be recruited and trained to take over their country’s security.

Obama had announced that he would begin drawing down U.S. forces, who form about two-thirds of the international coalition in Afghanistan, in July. The U.S. budget crisis, which prompted the election of more deficit hawks last fall, brought increasing political pressure on the administration to decrease the $10 billion monthly bill for the war.

On the ground in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition military commander, has cited increasing progress against Taliban fighters in the south, although there is some disagreement with the U.S. military’s conclusion that heavy losses have made the Taliban more amenable to negotiations. U.S. intelligence officials have offered a slightly different interpretation, saying that replacement commanders inside Afghanistan have made the Pakistan-based leadership nervous of losing control over its fighters and more anxious to make a deal.

Officials said senior diplomat Marc Grossman, who was appointed as the administration’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan after Richard C. Holbrooke’s death in December, was told that the White House expected him to concentrate his efforts on a negotiated settlement.

At the same time, U.S. relations with Pakistan — the home base for the leading Afghan Taliban groups — have become increasingly frayed. The endgame in Afghanistan clearly requires Pakistani cooperation, and Grossman began trilateral discussions on the subject with top Afghan and Pakistani diplomats in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, this month. Officials said that he has also visited other regional players interested in talks, including India and Saudi Arabia, and that Iran has been approached through intermediaries.

The administration now thinks that talks with the Quetta Shura and other groups do not necessarily require Pakistan’s cooperation.

“Some people who have met with the Taliban say that among the reasons [the insurgents] want to establish their own office is so they can get out from under the Pakistanis,” one senior administration official said.

(Courtesy by: Washington Post)



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