Pak Engineer’s Claim Creates Ruckus in Islamabad

Agha Waqar ki Motor Car (Credit: timthumb.php)
ISLAMABAD, July 28: A Pakistani engineer has built a car that runs on water, a feat that left onlookers astounded.

Engineer Waqar Ahmad drove his car using water as fuel on Thursday during a demonstration for parliamentarians, scientists and students, Dawn reported from the capital.

He said cars could be driven by a system fuelled by water instead of petrol or CNG.

The onlookers were taken aback when they saw it and a cabinet sub-committee lauded the ‘Water Fuel Kit Project’.

Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah, who heads the panel, said the engineer would have their full support.

The media report explained that the water fuelling system is a technology in which ‘hydrogen bonding’ with distilled water produces hydrogen gas to run the car.

Ahmad had earlier told Shah about the unique project and it was taken to the federal cabinet which asked its sub-committee to discuss it. During the demonstration, Shah himself drove the car.

The minister said that Ahmad would be given complete security and the formula would be kept secure. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh value the project, he said.

“We own this project and are committed to successfully completing it,” he was quoted as saying.

Pakistan shuns physicist linked to ‘God particle’

Dr Abdus Salam (Credit:
ISLAMABAD — The pioneering work of Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, helped lead to the apparent discovery of the subatomic “God particle” last week. But the late physicist is no hero at home, where his name has been stricken from school textbooks.

Praise within Pakistan for Salam, who also guided the early stages of the country’s nuclear program, faded decades ago as Muslim fundamentalists gained power. He belonged to the Ahmadi sect, which has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants who view its members as heretics.

Their plight — along with that of Pakistan’s other religious minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Christians and Hindus — has deepened in recent years as hardline interpretations of Islam have gained ground and militants have stepped up attacks against groups they oppose. Most Pakistanis are Sunni Muslims.

Salam, a child prodigy born in 1926 in what was to become Pakistan after the partition of British-controlled India, won more than a dozen international prizes and honors. In 1979, he was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, which theorizes how fundamental forces govern the overall dynamics of the universe. He died in 1996.

Salam and Steven Weinberg, with whom he shared the Nobel Prize, independently predicted the existence of a subatomic particle now called the Higgs boson, named after a British physicist who theorized that it endowed other particles with mass, said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani physicist who once worked with Salam. It is also known as the “God particle” because its existence is vitally important toward understanding the early evolution of the universe.

Physicists in Switzerland stoked worldwide excitement Wednesday when they announced they have all but proven the particle’s existence. This was done using the world’s largest atom smasher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, near Geneva.

“This would be a great vindication of Salam’s work and the Standard Model as a whole,” said Khurshid Hasanain, chairman of the physics department at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Salam wielded significant influence in Pakistan as the chief scientific adviser to the president, helping to set up the country’s space agency and institute for nuclear science and technology. Salam also assisted in the early stages of Pakistan’s effort to build a nuclear bomb, which it eventually tested in 1998.

Salam’s life, along with the fate of the 3 million other Ahmadis in Pakistan, drastically changed in 1974 when parliament amended the constitution to declare that members of the sect were not considered Muslims under Pakistani law.

Ahmadis believe their spiritual leader, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet of God — a position rejected by the government in response to a mass movement led by Pakistan’s major Islamic parties. Islam considers Muhammad the last prophet and those who subsequently declared themselves prophets as heretics.

All Pakistani passport applicants must sign a section saying the Ahmadi faith’s founder was an “impostor” and his followers are “non-Muslims.” Ahmadis are prevented by law in Pakistan from “posing as Muslims,” declaring their faith publicly, calling their places of worship mosques or performing the Muslim call to prayer. They can be punished with prison and even death.

Salam resigned from his government post in protest following the 1974 constitutional amendment and eventually moved to Europe to pursue his work. In Italy, he created a center for theoretical physics to help physicists from the developing world.

Although Pakistan’s then-president, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, presented Salam with Pakistan’s highest civilian honor after he won the Nobel Prize, the general response in the country was muted. The physicist was celebrated more enthusiastically by other nations, including Pakistan’s archenemy, India.

Despite his achievements, Salam’s name appears in few textbooks and is rarely mentioned by Pakistani leaders or the media. By contrast, fellow Pakistani physicist A.Q. Khan, who played a key role in developing the country’s nuclear bomb and later confessed to spreading nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, is considered a national hero. Khan is a Muslim.

Officials at Quaid-i-Azam University had to cancel plans for Salam to lecture about his Nobel-winning theory when Islamist student activists threatened to break the physicist’s legs, said his colleague Hoodbhoy.

“The way he has been treated is such a tragedy,” said Hoodbhoy. “He went from someone who was revered in Pakistan, a national celebrity, to someone who could not set foot in Pakistan. If he came, he would be insulted and could be hurt or even killed.”

The president who honored Salam would later go on to intensify persecution of Ahmadis, for whom life in Pakistan has grown even more precarious. Taliban militants attacked two mosques packed with Ahmadis in Lahore in 2010, killing at least 80 people.

“Many Ahmadis have received letters from fundamentalists since the 2010 attacks threatening to target them again, and the government isn’t doing anything,” said Qamar Suleiman, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community.

For Salam, not even death saved him from being targeted.

Hoodbhoy said his body was returned to Pakistan in 1996 after he died in Oxford, England, and was buried under a gravestone that read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate.” A local magistrate ordered that the word “Muslim” be erased.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court sets Collision Course with New Prime Minister

ISLAMABAD, June 27 — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday demanded that the nation’s brand-new prime minister follow an order to reopen a long-dormant corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, setting up the likelihood of a continuing constitutional crisis.

The court last week disqualified from office Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s longest-serving prime minister, whom it convicted of contempt in April because he refused to follow the same order.

Some political and legal observers have accused the court, headed by populist, corruption-battling Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, of working to destabilize an already shaky civilian government. Ashraf and his predecessor maintain that Pakistan’s constitution grants the president immunity from prosecution, but the court has consistently ruled otherwise, saying no one is above the law.

The legal and political upheaval has complicated U.S. efforts to broker a compromise with Pakistan to reopen vital NATO supply routes that pass into landlocked Afghanistan through Pakistani territory. The routes have been shut for more than seven months, creating a logistical headache not only for the Pentagon but also for other international forces, including France’s, that require access to Pakistan’s southern port to withdraw vast quantities of materiel from Afghanistan.

Zardari has denied the corruption allegations, which date to the 1990s and involve Swiss bank accounts held by the president and his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007. Gilani for months refused to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen graft and money-laundering cases against Zardari.

The court on Wednesday gave the new prime minister until July 12 to respond to its directive and offer any arguments as to why he need not pursue the corruption charges.

Some analysts predict that Ashraf will be in the job for only a few weeks — the time the court will take to consider his response and hand down a ruling that, observers say, will almost certainly require Ashraf to write the “Swiss letter.”

“The new prime minister is facing the same situation” as Gilani, said S.M. Zafar, a longtime lawyer in Islamabad. “He could write the letter, or he could take some middle ground that is acceptable to the court as well.

“But if that doesn’t happen, then I see a disaster in the coming days,” Zafar said. “The crisis would worsen further.”

Other analysts said that the court’s respect for the rule of law is admirable but that it also can go too far.

“There is a place for judicial activism in almost every country, particularly one in which the rule of law has all too often been conspicuous by its absence,” Mahir Ali, a columnist for the English-language newspaper Dawn, wrote Wednesday before the latest court ruling. “But the rule of law does not mean rule by the Supreme Court, which has no right to be a substitute for parliament.”

The public view of government leaders here remains exceedingly negative; Zardari was rated unfavorably by 85 percent of Paki¬stanis polled in a Pew Global Attitudes survey whose results were released Wednesday, and only 34 percent approved of Gilani.

And not surprisingly, after a year of contentious dealings with the United States, about 74 percent of the respondents said they “consider the U.S. an enemy,” Pew said, up five points from last year’s survey. The public, which overwhelmingly opposes CIA drone strikes inside Pakistan, also offers dwindling support for joint efforts with the United States against Islamist extremists.

“Moreover, roughly four-in-ten believe that American economic and military aid is actually having a negative impact on their country, while only about one-in-ten think the impact is positive,” Pew said.

Pollsters said their sampling of 1,206 Pakistanis represented about 82 percent of the population. For security reasons, interviews were not conducted in several regions, including the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The military continues to rank as the nation’s highest-regarded national institution, with 77 percent saying it has “a good influence on the country,” the report said.

Imran Khan, a cricket star turned politician who is pushing a fiery anti-corruption message in his campaign for prime minister, was again ranked most popular among national leaders. He was rated favorably by seven in 10 Pakistanis, essentially unchanged from last year.

Shaiq Hussain contributed to this report.

On Slain Benazir’s 59th Birthday

PPP nominee for Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (credit:
When former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who would have turned 59 on Thursday (June 21), wanted to share what she was privy to, she paid scant respect to the Makhdooms or anyone whose name had a string of prefixes or an overlong honorific. One of Pakistan’s most charismatic leaders, Bhutto would summarily dismiss from her presence men who went on to become the PM, foreign minister and even the interior minister in her husband Asif Ali Zardari’s Cabinet.

Her ideological moorings were always with the educated middle class, and the poor drawn to her by her uncanny ability to connect. As the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government headed by President Zardari — a government, and party, indisputably now of the elite — replaces the Prime Minister who, at his bidding defied the highest court and was summarily disqualified, with another and yet another, Pakistan is gripped by a crisis anew.

How long before the new Prime Minister(s) go down the same route? How far will the SC go in punishing a PM, when it is the President, accused of corruption, who is the actual target? While the immunity that the Presidential office gives a sitting President makes it almost impossible to prosecute Mr Zardari, how will the judiciary, which has “played executive, judiciary and legislature”, set this in motion? A judiciary that is no longer playing to the ISI.

The clamour for fresh elections to be overseen, not by Mr Zardari but by an independent caretaker government, is growing shriller. But the President will fight it tooth and nail. Already, in choosing the path of least resistance he is treading with caution. If “polls” do come to shove, much rests on whether son, heir and party president Bilawal Bhutto has understood that it’s time to reclaim the party from the clutches of the Zardari rich men’s club and chart an independent course.

That the confrontation with the CJ has brewed for some time is no secret. And clearly, reports that the trigger to annul the National Reconciliation Ordinance which allowed the Bhutto-Zardari couple as well as another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, to return home from military-imposed exile, stemmed from Mr Zardari’s unwillingness in 2009 to extend the Chief Justice’s term, is deeply troubling. As is the imputation that the sudden disqualification of Mr Gilani only came into force because the PPP dirty tricks brigade had systematically thrown mud on CJ Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry’s son Arsalan, and by that token the CJ himself, in a bid to undermine the judiciary.

In fact, the SC ruling two months ago seemed to sort of settle the matter by giving outgoing PM Yousaf Raza Gillani a 30-second (!!) punishment, while the Speaker of the House’s rejection of the SC’s ruling was met with silence. In not appealing against the judgment, it’s clear that Mr Zardari never intended reconciliation.

His strategy: stretch out the theatrics for as long as possible, play both martyr and victim and milk the sympathy wave for yet another legitimate PPP government.

But here’s the rub. The CJ-led judicial protests, which tasted political success in engineering the exit of Musharraf, and set it on a path of confrontation with the Zardari leadership has surprisingly widespread support. There are many in the Opposition, the establishment and the PPP who are exulting in what they see as the end of a PPP government that has moved away from the ideological moorings that once made the PPP so feared by the military-ISI. They want re-engagement with Washington. They want to redial 2007. They want the Taliban back in the box.

“This is not our PPP, it’s the PPP masquerading as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mohtarma’s (Benazir) party,” said a supporter at Bibi’s birthday celebrations in Lahore. “The hope that she held out for a better Pakistan when she returned has dissipated,” he said. And this is the tragedy that stalks this nation. This elected civilian government will join the ranks of all the others that have not completed their term of office. And the clear political overtones of the battle being waged by the SC, against this government — imperfect as it may be, though it’s unclear at who’s behest — puts a huge question mark over Pakistan’s troubled path to democracy.

While the Army was once the game-changer, sending the infamous Rawalpindi Xth Corps wheeling into the capital, to lay siege to the PM’s house, today that dubious distinction is held by the judiciary. The judiciary’s aim is to ensure this Parliament no longer stands in the way of prosecuting Mr Zardari. This is why the man he picks as his PM is the key. The constitutional powers invested in the PM are the only armour the President has left. Mr Zardari, however, is working on an additional tack: appoint one tainted man after another — Makhdoom Shahabuddin is accused in an ephedrine scandal, and Raja Pervez Ashraf is allegedly involved in power plant kickbacks — and wait for the sympathy wave to build up as each man falls afoul of the law.

With the SC in the driving seat, however, Mr Zardari may soon be a President without a government. Pakistan, back to shadow boxing as usual.

Divided Families Urge India, Pakistan to Leave Kashmir

Divided Kashmiri Families Across Neelum River (credit:

KERAN, June 10: Hundreds of Kashmiris on Sunday staged an emotional demonstration on the banks of a fast-flowing river to urge India and Pakistan to withdraw troops from the disputed Himalayan region.

On the Pakistani side, tearful relatives waved across the gushing Neelum – which separates the two countries – to their family on the Indian side, using loudspeakers to try to speak to them, an AFP photographer said.

But the deafening roar of the river – about 200 feet wide at the village of Keran – was too loud for the cries to carry across to the Indian side.

About 600 men and women gathered by the river in Keran, about 90 kilometres northeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Many migrated to Muzaffarabad in 1990 to escape violence.

The gathering, called by nationalists, was a rare occasion – the authorities do not normally allow such events on the river.

For Ashraf Jan, who left her mother and father to come to Muzaffarabad with her aunt in 1947, it was almost too much.

Overwhelmed with emotion, the 70-year-old had to be stopped by relatives from jumping in the furious river to try to reach her ageing parents on the Indian side.

“Let me go. I just want to see my parents and after that if I die, I will be in peace,” she said.

Indian police and military did not allow Kashmiris on the other side to come near the river bank and they were left to wave from a distance.

Kashmir was split in the aftermath of independence on the subcontinent when British rule ended in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim the entire territory, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC).

The LoC is heavily guarded on both sides and strictly off-limits.

Though Kashmiris can cross the border via a special bus service started in 2005, it requires lengthy clearance procedures at both sides, meaning few go.

Arif Shahid, president of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference, urged India and Pakistan to divert their military spending to help poor people in both countries.

“India and Pakistan are wasting money on arms when millions of people have to sleep without any meal every night. They should withdraw troops from Kashmir and liberate us so that they are able to work for the welfare of their citizens,” Shahid said.

There are nearly a dozen Kashmir militant groups fighting for the divided Muslim-majority region to become part of Pakistan and over 47,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of a separatist insurgency in 1989.

But militant violence has dropped sharply in Kashmir since India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004.

Pakistan Supreme Court Counters Move to Tarnish Chief Justice – Blames CJ’s Son & Business Tycoon, Malik Riaz for corruption

Supreme Court of Pakistan (Credit:

ISLAMABAD, June 14: In the short order penned down during the hearing of the Arsalan Iftikhar case, the Supreme Court directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to proceed according to the law and take required action against business tycoon Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Salman and the chief justice’s son Arsalan Iftikhar, Express News reported on Thursday.

In the order, the court said that while Malik Riaz claimed Rs327 million was given in cash, the documents presented only provided details of Arsalan’s visits and no proof of monetary transfers.

The short order also stated that Malik Riaz accepted giving money but did not express any regret over doing so. “The ones who give and the ones who accept bribes, both will go to hell,” said the order.

The order further stated that Riaz did not submit any statement on behalf of his son-in-law Salman and added that Riaz may have been used to bribing and getting his work done in the past.

In the order, the court stated that the media had attacked the judiciary, adding that the statements of journalists showed that they did not try to get their facts straight.

“Even today we are working to uphold the constitution whereas some elements are trying to sabotage it,” said Justice Jawad S Khawaja during the hearing. “The court stands against such unconstitutional acts.”

Later, speaking to the media, AG Qadir said that he had not decided upon a course of action as yet, adding that he would read the short order properly before deciding.

Read a copy of the short order here.

‘Case doesn’t fall under NAB’s jurisdiction’
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Fasih Bokhari said on Thursday that the Arsalan Iftikhar case is a matter between two people and has nothing to do with the national treasury, reported Express News.

Bokhari said that the case doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of NAB.

Earlier during the day, NAB spokesperson had said that the bureau will investigate the matter if a reference is sent to them against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

CJ takes suo moto notice against son in corruption case

Arsalan Chaudhry (Credit:

ISLAMABAD, June 8: Malik Riaz Hussain, the real estate tycoon and author of the latest nightmare surrounding the son of the widely respected Chief Justice of Pakistan, has admitted that he had no evidence against Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The man, who is today the source of great embarrassment for the chief justice, interestingly, also claims that he still sees the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as a great hope for Pakistan. “I see him as the lone fighter against corruption and misrule,” said Malik Riaz.

This correspondent had five sittings with Malik Riaz during the last few weeks after the business tycoon invited this scribe to his residence to share the documentary evidence against the alleged corruption of CJ’s son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.

What we discussed during all these meetings was off the record as was the demand of the real estate developer, who did not want to be quoted at that stage.

But on Thursday, Malik Riaz again contacted this scribe on mobile and when his attention was drawn to the fact that some journalists, with whom he had also shared his “explosive” material against the CJ’s son, had already quoted him by name while he had stopped this correspondent, he allowed The News to quote him.

The man, who saw a phenomenal rise as a businessman and enjoys extreme influence in the military, government, civil bureaucracy, media and politics, appeared contradicting himself with regard to the chief justice.

On the one hand, he showed his extreme frustration for being allegedly dealt “unfairly” and “sternly” by the chief justice and, on the other hand, he said Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was the only hope to check corruption.

On one occasion, he said that while all others were busy in loot and plunder, the Chief Justice was the lone fighter against the corrupt.

He was satisfied with his evidence, which he believed would put Dr Arsalan Iftkhar on the mat. He also alleged that Arsalan was being favoured and given money to get the Bahria Town cases settled but he did not have any evidence of corruption against the chief justice.

“I used to adore him and wrote a large number of columns in favour of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,” the Bahria Town tycoon said, adding that Arsalan’s alleged blackmailing for more and more money without any quid pro quo forced them to release the evidence.

When asked if the chief justice knew that his son was getting money from Bahria Town, he said he did not think so.

When asked if the chief justice’s family knew that Dr Arsalan had been taking them to Britain for holidays on Bahria Town’s expenses, he doubted they knew that. He, however, said Dr Arsalan was fully in the picture.

Malik Riaz categorically denied that there was any power whether civilian or military behind his move against the chief justice or his son. He admitted that despite his view that there was nothing with him against the chief justice, he would be under pressure from certain vested interests to blame the chief justice, if he goes public.

He said he did not want to be used by others for their vested interest but was still eager to go public with his evidence.

At one stage, Malik disclosed that he had entered into a written agreement with a British journalist, Christina Lamb, to break the story in the British media but when he was warned of serious consequences for Pakistan of such a move, he decided not to do it and hinted that the evidence might be handed over to The News.

Later, he disclosed that Aitzaz Ahsan was also against breaking of the story through the British media and that too when the Chief Justice was to be present in London to receive an award for being one of the best jurists in the world.

When asked that the evidence, including the making of videos, which were not shown, suggests as if Dr Arsalan was trapped, he said that the CJ’s son had blackmailed the Bahria Town and had been milking him to multiply his fortunes.

On Thursday, while talking to this correspondent, he said that he was not involved in any dealing with the Dr Arsalan case. He said that all the evidence shown by him pertained to his son-in-law.


Onset of Civilian Govt Helped Baloch Militants Reorganize – FC chief

FC chief Maj. Gen. Obaidullah Khan (Credit:

QUETTA, June 3: Balochistan Frontier Corps (FC) Inspector General (IG) Major-General Ubaidullah Khan Khattak has claimed that around 121 camps of the banned Baloch groups are operating in Balochistan and they are responsible for nationalist movement and deteriorating law and order situation in the province, while another 30 camps, sponsored by foreign powers, are functional in Afghanistan.

Speaking to media at FC headquarters on Saturday, Khattak said the rebel camps were being provided support from Afghanistan, while the Afghan government is neglecting their presence. He said these included 40 camps of Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), 26 of Baloch Republican Army (BRA), 19 of Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and two camps belonged to Lashkar-e-Balochistan.

To a query, the FC IG said foreign hands were involved in deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan and also supporting the militants financially.

“Teachers, doctors and many civilians have fallen prey to targeted killings,” said Khattak, adding that over 100,000 people had migrated from the province due to the poor law and order situation.

The FC chief insisted that the Balochistan issue was purely a political one and it should be resolved in a political manner. But at the same time, he issued a warning, saying, “Tit-for-tat action would be taken against those elements which are bent to disintegrate Pakistan and making propaganda against the country’s institutions.”

Khattak claimed that the number of terror acts had been reduced to a great extent in Balochistan as compared with the terror acts of last couple of years. However, he regretted that through a well-planned propaganda was being carried out against the law enforcement agencies personnel who had been sacrificing their lives for the security of people. “Through propaganda campaign and targeted attacks, the FC is being demoralised,” he added.

Khattak said 575 subversive incidents had occurred so far in the province during the current, year in which 254 people – including 57 FC personnel, two army men and 20 policemen – had been killed, while 258 of these incidents had been owned by the Baloch militant outfits.

“Attacks on FC have been increased during past several months which are aimed at to demoralize it physically and psychologically,” he added.

He further said the Levies Force was incapable and needed training to handle the criminals and the matter had been brought to the notice of provincial government. Situation in the ‘B Area’, which came under the Levies Force’s jurisdiction, was very serious and the FC was imparting training Levies Force so that it could be made affective, he added.

Referring to a recent interview of Baloch exiled leader Nawabzada Brahmdagh Bugti, Khattak said, “Nobody would be allowed to disintegrate Pakistan and we will continue fighting against those who talk about the breakup of the country.”

He said the FC wanted the support of Baloch people because no force could achieve the targets without their support.

To a query, Khattak dispelled the impression that the FC was not obeying the orders of provincial government. “FC is a federal force and deployed at borders; however, it was deployed in different parts of Balochistan following a request of the provincial government and is discharging its duties in accordance with the law”.

He stressed the need for unity amongst the people of the country, saying billions of dollars were being spent to destabilise the country. “Besides the security forces, it is also a responsibility of the citizens to play their role and foil the nefarious designs of anti-state elements”, he added.

The FC chief regretted that the accused persons involved in subversive activities always went unpunished by the courts. “121 accused persons involved in different incidents were arrested in 2011 but only 4 of them had been sentenced,” he added.

Referring to the hearings of missing persons case the Supreme Court, Khattak said he had appeared before the bench four times and always tried to uphold the rule of law. However, he said the way he was reported in the media was regrettable. “I had gone to Iran on an official visit and an official of FC had appeared before the bench during recent hearing behalf of me. But the media reported that IGFC is not appearing before the court,” he said, and adding that he (Khattak) was just an employee of the state. Khattak said the FC respected courts and political institutions. “There is no motive of FC but to maintain law and order and protect borders,” he added. Responding to a question, he said limited force was being used in Balochistan to eliminate the militant camps of militants; therefore, these camps still existed.

He said in the military operation of 2006-07, militants camps had been almost finished, however, following the elections of 2008, a political government came in power and the army was withdrawn and some cantonments were dismantled that helped militants to reorganize.


Balochistan Conference Seeks Dialogue Vs Military Operation

SCBA Conference (Credit:

ISLAMABAD: “Who are these people who have enforced these disappearances? Is there no rule of law or respect for the Constitution in this land?” asked Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the chief of the main opposition party, as he addressed a conference on Balochistan held in Islamabad on Saturday.

“The Baloch have a right to rebel … why shouldn’t they, after all that they have been put through?” remarked the PML-N chief, one of the most vocal leaders at the conference, as he called bringing Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murderers to justice.

“His body was desecrated … while his murderers were presented with a guard of honour,” said Sharif as he referred to former President Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial regime. “Does anybody have the courage to hold him responsible?”

Top leaders of major political parties were in attendance at the National Conference on Balochistan, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), as they called for a dialogue with all stakeholders in order to solve the province’s problems.

A fifteen-point resolution aimed to resolve Balochistan’s problems was passed unanimously at the conference. The resolution calls for an end to the ongoing military operation in the insurgency-hit province, and the withdrawal of military and paramilitary troops from Balochistan.

While some leaders blamed military dictators, others called for addressing the issue of missing persons in Balochistan.

In his opening remarks, SCBA President Yaseen Azad said that the main unrest in Balochistan is the problem of missing persons which could only be addressed through parliament by political forces.

Speaking at the same venue, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan stressed that granting “unconditional amnesty” to Baloch rebels was the only way to resolve the complex problem.

Khan said that the solution lies in the hands of the country’s politicians, and not with military personnel. Moreover, he said that the soldiers were not trained to perform the job of policemen.

On the other hand, PML-Q Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain Syed felt that the ‘Balochistan problem’ was spreading to other parts of the country and stressed: “We have to tackle it with a serious sense of responsibility. No one is taking responsibility for deteriorated law and order situation in the province.”

Asma Jahangir, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, remarked that the solution of Balochistan issue was vested with the political parties and they should take immediate initiatives in that regard.

Qazi Hussain Ahmed, former Amir of Jamaat-i-Islami, was of the opinion that a society could not survive without justice and enforcement of Consttution could ensure all fundamental rights and provincial autonomy.

He said the rights of Baloch people over natural resources should be fully acknowledged.

President National Party Dr. Abdul Malik underlined the imperative need for granting basic rights to the people of Balochistan. “Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan and we have to find out solution by dialogue with all the stakeholders.

Deputy Chairman Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party Abdur Rahim Mandokhel said all problems have been created by the dictatorial regimes and now it is the duty of political leadership to address and resolve them.

President Hazara National Jirga Abdul Qayyum Chengezi said solution of problems was by holding free, fair and impartial elections.

President JUI-F Balochistan Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani was of the view that problems of Balochistan need a united national solution in accordance to the teachings of Islam.


‘Pakistan’s power crisis may eclipse terrorist threat’

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 27 — In the militant-infested northwestern city of Peshawar, hundreds of businessmen recently marched in a mock funeral procession — but not to protest bombings or kidnappings. The “corpse” they carried was an electric meter.

In other areas of the country, shopkeepers have threatened mass suicide to protest 18 to 20 hours of power blackouts every day. Mobs are descending on utility offices to destroy records and meters, and they have attacked political parties’ headquarters during riots that sometimes turn deadly.

This month, Pakistan tumbled into sovereign default for the first time in its history because the government failed to reimburse millions to independent power providers — more proof that, after years of mismanagement and neglect, the nation’s energy sector is in extremis.

Now some experts suggest that the power crisis is more of a threat to Pakistan’s stability than is terrorism — a bitter outcome given the massive amount of aid the United States has poured into energy projects here over the decades.

A long-running Islamist insurgency has carved 2 percent from the nation’s GDP, said Sakib Sherani, a former government economic adviser, whereas rotating daily blackouts — referred to here as “load shedding” — have resulted in a 4 percent loss.

The shutdowns paralyze commerce, stoke inflation and unemployment, and further enrage a restive populace. Load shedding averages five to 10 hours a day in some urban areas and more than double that in rural ones.

Shopkeepers and factories use backup generators if they have them, but businessmen say the rising cost of fuel to run the machines hurts their bottom line.

“We have been shattered by these problems, and the government is responsible,” said Muhammad Naeem, sitting in the darkened office of the marble and granite company he runs in Islamabad. Persistent outages have forced him to cut shifts by half and reduce his payroll from 35 people to eight as production has fallen off, he said.

Pakistani officials, while accusing previous governments of neglecting a predictable crisis, say coal, nuclear and hydropower projects are in the works, as are electrical grid and dam repairs to boost capacity. But relief is years away.

“The government knows the suffering of people. It is trying its best to resolve the electricity shortage problems,” said Zargham Eshaq Khan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Water and Power. “The results will be evident in time.”

U.S. assistance on energy

Many power-improvement efforts are backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which says it has made the energy sector its priority in Pakistan. With $865 million in overall assistance this year, Pakistan is on the receiving end of the second-largest USAID program in the world, according to State Department officials. The share of aid devoted to energy this year is $112 million.

Yet, for all its efforts, USAID has earned scant credit among the Pakistani public, polls have shown. And reliance on non-Pakistani contractors and high administrative costs have fueled resentment, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report on aid to Pakistan.

Some Pakistanis are critical of a U.S. approach in which money was spread around too thinly for years, instead of focusing on more visible, large-scale public works projects. “The U.S. authorities’ main problem is that they don’t support tangible projects,” said Arshad Abbasi, an analyst on water and energy issues.

U.S. officials say they have struck a good balance in funding, and USAID has decided to focus on fewer projects without cutting the total dollar amount.

But Congress seems hardly in the mood to keep shipping money to Islamabad, which has blocked NATO supply convoys from traveling through its territory into Afghanistan for the past six months. Lawmakers have bridled at the Obama administration’s request for $2.4 billion in aid to Pakistan for 2013.

“Pakistan is like a black hole for American aid,” Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing this month. “Our tax dollars go in. Our diplomats go in, sometimes. Our aid professionals go in, sometimes. Our hopes go in. Our prayers go in. Nothing good ever comes out.”

During the past decade, he added, “we have sunk $24 billion in foreign assistance into Pakistan. It’s hard to fathom how so much money can buy so little.”

The help on energy goes back much further. In the 1960s and ’70s, a consortium of U.S. construction firms, backed with USAID funds, built two huge earthen dams, considered at the time to be marvels of engineering, to harness the hydroelectric might of the Indus basin waters that emanate from the Himalayas.

The dams accounted for 70 percent of the country’s power output at the time, and they still produce electricity, but Pakistan did not maintain them. USAID has funded repairs to the largest dam, Tarbela, but Congress has not released money for refurbishing the other, Mangla.

A sector riddled with problems

Even with U.S. and other donor money, the problem is monumental. Pakistani power stations are running at 20 to 25 percent capacity, experts say; transmission lines are rickety and failing.

The government’s energy-sector debt, caused by subsidies and uncollected bills, is estimated at $4.4 billion. Pakistan defaulted on obligations of nearly $500 million to a group of nine independent utility companies that are supposed to be guaranteed payments. The default, which stems from a complex arrangement involving energy producers and distributors and the state oil company, could lead to a downgrade in the country’s credit rating.

“After this fiasco, who do you think will invest in setting up power plants in Pakistan?” asked Farooq Tirmizi, a blogger and head of business reporting for the Express Tribune, an English-language daily. “The silence from international investors will be deafening. You might even hear it over the roar of your generators which you will have to run almost constantly.”

Load shedding has stoked public unrest for several years, but the power crisis seems to have finally come to the forefront of political discourse, even if government leaders have no immediate solutions.

On a day this month when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet was supposed to be focused on reopening the NATO routes and mending Pakistan’s relationship with the United States, it was instead consumed by hours of debate over how to deal with the energy crisis.

One proposal is to crack down on individuals and industries that pirate electricity from the grid or just don’t pay their bills — a perennial problem. But the government is known to protect the deadbeats if they are prominent enough.

“Politicization takes place, so you provide electricity whether a person pays or not,” said Abdullah Yusuf, chairman of an advisory committee for the nine power producers. And, on a smaller scale, meter readers take bribes to instruct residents on how to disable the devices and, thus, lower their bills or evade payment altogether.

USAID’s $112 million contribution this year for energy does not impress Yusuf. “In relation to the quantum of the problem, it is actually peanuts,” he said. “If you want to see positive results, there has to be a bigger commitment.”

Just as searing summer temperatures took hold last week, the government announced energy price increases in an effort to pay its bills.

“As a small business, we are paralyzed — our job depends on electricity,” said Raja Hassan, 25, who owns a photocopying machine that he sets up in a busy Islamabad market, dispensing copies for a few cents per page. He rents a space in front of a toy shop that has no generator, so when the power cuts off, he is out of business.

In some northwestern regions, where support for militants is strong, 22-hour-a-day load shedding has been reported. It could hardly get worse — but it may feed the country’s other existential threat.

“The energy crisis is a fertile breeding ground for extremism and insurgency against the state,” said Sherani, the economist. “You see the huge demonstrations, the people are jobless, and the businesses have shut down — so that is like playing into the hands of extremists. It is serving their cause.”

Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain in Islamabad contributed to this report.