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Latest News From Pakistan

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Dude, I am not armed with financial background but the people who are maintain that it was all make-up of the Pakistan economy which is now in a melt down phase...

There have been many critcisms on policies... I came across few good ones.. will post them here if I find them sometime.

Well I do have some knowledge of finance and this is not a meltdown...

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Bomb wounds 20 at rally in southwestern Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan, Aug 26 (AP) - At least 20 people were injured in a bomb blast at a political rally in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, police official Nazir Ahmad said. The bomb had been rigged to a motorcycle parked near the stage of the rally in the town of Jaaferabad, he said adding that some of the injured were in critical condition. Ahmad said the injured belonged to the party of late Nawab Akbar Bugti, who died on Aug. 26, 2007, when a cave in which he was hiding collapsed during a military operation against him in the southwestern Baluchistan province. Bugti was a former Baluchistan governor and had led a violent campaign to pressure the central government to give his impoverished province a larger share of money from oil and gas extracted from there. (First Posted @ 11:55 PST, Updated @ 12:25 PST)

Massive load shedding hits country

Updated at: 1940 PST, Tuesday, August 26, 2008

KARACHI: Severe load shedding in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and other cities has badly affected daily life. The duration of load shedding has reached 16 hours.

In Karachi, people are suffering due to continuous load shedding, which is taking place after every hour for 3 hours and the management of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) has failed to overcome the problem.

(I think this was normal)

Electricity shortage in the country has reached to the tune of over 4500 MW.

The hot and humid weather added to the miseries of the people, not only affecting routine life but also paralyzing business activities. Children and the elderly were the worst victims of the KESC’s apathy.

Power outages also created acute water shortages in many areas.

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^

For Heaven's sake. Upto 16 hours in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar? That is staggering.

I've heard that power cuts have been reduced to 3-4 hours in big cities like afore-mentioned, 6-8 hours in medium/small cities like Hyderabad, Multan, Gujrat and 10-14 hours in small towns and villages. I can testify about my village and the city I am spending my summer vacations in.

What do ShiaChatters in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad etc say?

Edited by Jibran Haider

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PPP CEC to decide Punjab govt fate

LAHORE: Former Pakistan People�s Party (PPP) Punjab president Qasim Zia told reporters on Monday his party had not yet decided whether to remove the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) from power in the Punjab.

'The PPP does not take decisions in haste or in anger,' Mr Zia said, adding that instead the fate of the Punjab Assembly would rest with the party's Central Executive Committee.

He said the PPP had 'the democratic right' to ask for votes from all members of the national and provincial assemblies, including those of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) for its presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari.

In a sign of the growing gulf between the PPP and former coalition partners the PML-N, Zia said PPP Co-Chairman Zardari had suffered eight years in jail for democracy, while the PML-N had forwarded the name of a candidate whose involvement in deposing of former chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah in 1998 was still fresh in public memory.

Asked how PPP workers would feel about being required to solicit support from a party that Mr Zardari had earlier branded the 'Qatil league' (killer league) and had blamed for his wife�s death, Zia responded: 'We have gotten rid of the dictator who put the PPP through all this. We have the right to ask for votes from any member of the assembly.'

Mr Zia also issued a vaguely worded threat to Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan, who had earlier in the day called Zardari's integrity into question. Mr Zia said: 'I want to give him this warning: if he ever uses such language again...then the workers of the PPP know how to stop him.'

Taseer: Governor Salman Taseer has said the election of PPP Co-chairperson Asif Zardari as president of Pakistan is in national interest. Addressing PPP workers from Attock during an open house at the Governor's House here on Monday, he said the party had the right to the office of the president by virtue of being the largest party in the country with representation in all the provinces. He said he wished Zardari to be elected president unanimously.

Dawn

Edited by Ali Zaidi

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^

Zardari might well have been innocent of any corruption but I don't see any hope in him as the de-facto leader as well as president of Pakistan. He has inherited the legacy of his wife otherwise his standing doesn't allow him to become a person with the powers he currently enjoys in Pakistan.

Edited by Jibran Haider

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After her murder, he has emerged, not just a politician, but a statesman in his own right. So far he has steered the party magnificiently.

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Mr Zia also issued a vaguely worded threat to Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan, who had earlier in the day called Zardari's integrity into question. Mr Zia said: 'I want to give him this warning: if he ever uses such language again...then the workers of the PPP know how to stop him.'

Dawn

:lol: With Zardari as the leader, these kind of statements are not surprizing. Bibi ji and Nawaz were moderate in terms of abusing their terms in the office compared to what this idiot might do in the next couple of years. Only time will tell

Edited by HR

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The clerk wasn't an idiot, he was a very shrewd swindler, and very loyal to his godfather too.

The case against Zardari stank ab initio. It were just the lafafa journalists from Pakistan and abroad that had kept it propped up. Even financial crime experts from the US and Europe couldn't pin anything on anyone.

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Power shocks daze Karachi; KESC allowed to raise tariff

Dawn Report

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI, Aug 26: At a time when people in Karachi have to endure long hours of loadshedding, in some areas for up to 12 hours, the financial managers of the country have decided to pass on the full impact of high oil prices in the international market to them.

The old regime did not allow an increase of more than five per cent in consumer tariff as a result of change in fuel price.

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, presided over by Finance Minister Syed Naveed Qamar on Tuesday, removed this cap, allowing the passing on of the entire increase in oil prices to consumers.

The ECC meeting also decided to treat the KESC at par with distribution companies of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) so that the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) charged the same power purchase rates from the KESC as the distribution companies of Wapda.

Under the existing arrangement, the NTDC sells about 750MW of electricity to the KESC at about Rs10 per unit compared with Rs3.70 per unit from Wapda’s distribution companies on the grounds that the Karachi utility company was not an integrated entity of Wapda.

The decisions have been allowed on the recommendations of a ministerial committee and demands of KESC’s foreign management to reduce its financial pressure. Now, the KESC will be able to recover full financial cost of fuel oil from consumers while its power purchase cost would drop by more than 40 per cent.

On Tuesday, the KESC was getting about 500MW from Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) and another 210MW from other producers. The megacity requires over 2,200MW.

However, due to the non-functioning of two units of the Bin Qasim thermal power plant and one unit of the Korangi power thermal station, the utility has been producing only 600MW on its own. It has not been getting any supply from the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant since Aug 22.

The government seems to be unconcerned about the problem, as there seems to be no intervention from its side to protect the consumers. Analysts say the only intervention has been to the advantage of the privatised management in the form of an increase in tariff.

Some sources go to the extent of saying that the utility’s management was closing down different units to blackmail the government into enhancing tariff, and to pay its outstanding dues to the gas and oil companies and Pepco and Wapda.

Representatives of trade and business organisations have criticised the indifferent attitude of the authorities as well as of the KESC management.

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Countrywide power crisis worsens

Updated at: 1220 PST, Wednesday, August 27, 2008

KARACHI: Power crisis all across the country has worsened, prolonged power outage for 12/16 hours taxing patience of the people, who losing tempers went on rampage violently protesting at several places.

Power crisis in the interior of Sindh including Karachi taking a nasty turn, as almost all the areas in this mega-metropolis city witnessing protracted power outage, making the life here unbearable.

Hyderabad, Qasimabad, Jamshoro, Kotri, Sehwan, Dadu, Khairpur Nathanshah, Naushehroferoze, Qazi Ahmad, Nawabshah, Thatta, Matiari, Sukkur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Obaro and other areas are equally suffering from power outage rendering all the trading and commercial activities to a halt.

Unannounced load shedding in the different cities of Punjab continuing for 18/20 hours unabated, people in Lahore stand extremely vexed by the load shedding and business activities have come to a halt. The protesters in Okara also went violent breaking the windowpanes of Quetta Express at the railway station besides blocking the railway track. Hundreds of people staged protest at Bhawalnagar against 18 hours of load shedding and blocked the Bhawalpur-Manchanabad road. Pakpattan women came out on the streets in protest and forced the closure of shops in the town. The people demonstrated against power outage at Gojranawala, Sialkot, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Sangla Hill, Kasur and other areas of Punjab.

In NWFP, Peshawar areas Hashtnagri, Kachchi Mohalla, Lahori Gate, Ganj Gate and other areas’ people suffering prolonged power outage protested against Wapda, voiced slogans, burnt tyres, pelted stones on passing vehicles and blocked the G. T. Road near Hashnagri for all sorts of traffic. The situation is no better in Swat, Kohat, Mardan, Charsadda, Naushehra, Mansehra, Balakot and other areas of NWFP.

All across Balochistan including Quetta life stands paralyzed due to protracted load shedding. Quetta Electric Supply Company said that they are forced to resort to load shedding in Quetta for 6 hours, in the district headquarters for 8 hours, while in the rural areas for 12 hours. Contrary to the claims of the concerned officials, Quetta several areas witnessing load shedding for 8/10 hours and protracted load shedding at district Bolan, Sibi, Naseerabad, Jafferabad, Khuzdar, Qalat, Mastung, Naushki, Loralai, Zhob, and Harnai.

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Prolonged power outages trigger protests across country

Updated at: 2015 PST, Wednesday, August 27, 2008

KARACHI: Enraged citizens staged protests in major cities across the country, as severe load shedding in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and other cities badly affects daily life.

In Karachi the electricity situation turned from bad to worse when unit-5 of Bin Qasim power plant tripped after developing a technical fault, increasing the number of powerless hours in the city.

According to KESC, the closure of the plant has led to suspension of supply of 220 MW electricity to the city which is now facing a total power shortage of 1000 MW.

The frequent and prolonged load shedding has severely affected the daily life activities of the city.

The total shortage of electricity being faced by the country has climbed to a whopping 4,500 MW.

The KESC is alternating three-hour long power load shedding with one hour of supplying electricity in the city, making the citizens suffer in the increasing heat.

The increased load shedding is also causing shortage of drinking water.

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Thanks to the economic policies of Musharraf and his economic whizzkid crony, the clerk from Citibank. No power generation capacity was added, instead, loads were consciously increased by allowing import, and hire-purchase of cheap air conditioners.

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Thanks to the economic policies of Musharraf and his economic whizzkid crony, the clerk from Citibank. No power generation capacity was added, instead, loads were consciously increased by allowing import, and hire-purchase of cheap air conditioners.

Dear Rawshni,

Do you have reliable data on load characteristics?

Can you tell how much industrial sector power demand has increased since 1999? Also how much industrial growth has been there?

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There has hardly been any industrialization during the past nine years. And where there has been, there has also been self-generation provision.

For instance, ALL sugar mills produce their own electricity, and so do the cement plants. In fact, all CPI's produce their own power, it is a by product of their operation.

Batch processing industries, for instance textile mills, require utility power.

On the other hand there has been MASSIVE increase in the power consumption of the urban households.

Figure should be available with PEPCO, WAPDA, KESC etc., but they are tight lipped about them, mainly due to two factors.

Line losses, which are very high, and power theft, which is astronomical.

Power theft began in Karachi, and spread throughout the country very soon. The media, especially the print media played a key role role in its spread, printing pictures and describing in graphic detail how it is done.

In Karachi, even billion rupee industries have been known to steal power on a continuous basis.

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At least 11 killed, 12 injured in Pakistan suicide attack

BANNU, Pakistan, Aug 28 (AFP/Reuters): At least 11 persons were killed and 12 injured in a suicide attack on a police van carrying prisoners Thursday in the garrison town of Bannu in North West Frontier Province. “The van was carrying policemen and jail staff when it was hit by an explosives-laden car which was used in the attack,” Bannu police official Najeebullah said. adding that the head-on collision happened around 8.55am (0255 GMT). The van that was targeted was normally used to carry prisoners to court and then back to jail. Tahir Shah, a local police chief, said the jail van had been targeted in the attack. “When it reached Kurram Bridge another vehicle standing near exploded,” he said, giving a separate account of the incident. “The jail van fell into the river.” A doctor at the Bannu hospital said 12 persons were brought to hospital with injuries. (Posted @ 10:50 PST)

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Allahu Akbar!

Day before yesterday on Karachi Super Highway at Gulshan-e-Maymaar, one momin Mesam was matyred, after the murderers saw marks of zanjeer-zani on his back. They brutally drilled his back and murdered him.

Ya Maula Adrikni

Source?

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Lawyers stage sit-in, rallies across country

RECORDER REPORT

ISLAMABAD (updated on: August 28, 2008, 15:10 PST): Thousands of lawyers blocked roads across the country on Thursday to press the government to reinstate judges purged by former president Pervez Musharraf. A bitter disagreement between the country's two main political parties over the judges led to a split in the ruling coalition this week, dashing hopes for stability in the country after Musharraf's resignation last week.

Black-suited lawyers sat down on roads in all major cities to press the coalition, led by the party Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), to reappoint dozens of judges Musharraf dismissed when he imposed emergency rule in November.

"The lawyers are proving how organised they are, that they have total consensus, and this protest will continue until the all deposed judges along with former chief justice of Pakistan are restored," firebrand lawyers' leader Aitzaz Ahsan told reporters in Lahore.

Several thousand slogan-chanting lawyers and flag-waving activists squatted on main roads in central Lahore for about two hours, bringing traffic to a standstill.

In an ominous sign for the government, protesters directed their anger at Zardari, who looks set to become president in a Sept. 6 vote by legislators.

"Down with Zardari" and "Zardari, killer of Pakistani judiciary," hundreds of lawyers and activists chanted in Multan.

In Islamabad, protesters tore down banners of Zardari while similar protests were held in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and smaller cities.

Copyright Reuters, 2008

Next 48 hours crucial for significant changes: Nisar

ISLAMABAD (updated on: August 28, 2008, 17:24 PST): Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader, Chaudhry Nisar on Thursday said significant changes are expected to happen on political scenario over next 24 to 48 hours.

Talking to media outside Punjab House here, he said PML-N’s presidential candidate former Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui contacted Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief, Altaf Hussain. He also contacted Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and requested him of support in the presidential election.

Meantime, Fata members of National Assembly called on PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and assured him of their support for the party’s presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Nawaz said his party can return to the coalition if the deposed judges are restored with honour and the seventeenth amendment is repealed.

Copyright Aaj TV, 2008

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For Heaven's sake. Upto 16 hours in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar? That is staggering.

What do ShiaChatters in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad etc say?

The only thing left to say is that our leaders have dragged Pakistan into stone-age and this is how it will remain.

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I believe this is a deliberate setup by Wapda to fail the government.

WOW.. When we had power failures during Musharraf's tenure, it was blamed squarely on him as if he was the Director Distribution and now people are spinning theories about WAPDA conspiring to fail the government...

We sure are a nation of blind followers :dry:

The only thing left to say is that our leaders have dragged Pakistan into stone-age and this is how it will remain.

Serves us right.. This is democracy and majority voted for the clowns who are presently in power!

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WOW.. When we had power failures during Musharraf's tenure, it was blamed squarely on him as if he was the Director Distribution and now people are spinning theories about WAPDA conspiring to fail the government...

We sure are a nation of blind followers :dry:

And his govt. did fail.

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And his govt. did fail.

So will this, much sooner! Insha Allah

Swiss judge upset over dropped Zardari probe

Updated at: 2330 PST, Thursday, August 28, 2008

GENEVA: A Swiss judge who investigated Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), for alleged money laundering said Thursday he is disappointed the case has been dropped at the request of Pakistani authorities.

Daniel Devaud, the Swiss magistrate who brought charges in 1998 against Zardari and Bhutto, then Pakistan's prime minister, said the probe should have continued, even if Pakistan was no longer interested in pursuing the case.

This week, Geneva prosecutor Daniel Zappelli announced he was dropping any further investigation of Zardari because authorities in Pakistan, where the probe began, were no longer pursuing the case, which they regarded as unneeded

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Zardari has forced a confused

Friday, August 29, 2008

establishment to decide quickly

By Shaheen Sehbai

ISLAMABAD: A grave threat perception is fast developing in Islamabad’s key power centres, around Asif Ali Zardari’s attempt to occupy the presidency. The concern is not about his political right to contest the election but about the way he has adopted, the tactics that he is using, the misleading claims, broken promises, petty politicking, unauthorised name dropping and other tactics to achieve his political ambitions.

In the last four days in the capital, I have been interacting with all the key stakeholders in the political charade unleashed by Mr Zardari’s unilateral decision to fast forward the presidential election without taking any of his coalition partners into confidence and then bulldozing every other issue out of his way to grab the most powerful seat in the country.

Of course, he has been encouraged by his relatively easy successes to put his men on the PM’s seat, the Speaker’s chair, in Sindh and all key ministries in the cabinet, besides sidelining important PPP stalwarts and foisting his friends of the ‘exiles club’ on other state institutions.

No one challenges his democratic credentials as head of an elected party but the personal credibility of Mr Zardari has become a serious issue. For instance, I have it from the horse’s mouth that Mr Zardari had misled many of his political allies and partners by claiming that the establishment, which mediated and guaranteed many deals, had expressed serious reservations about the restoration of the judges, specially chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. I have been clearly told there was no such reservation and never any one of any rank had interfered in the matter telling him what to do or not to do.

Likewise, the perception that ‘everyone was onboard’ with Mr Zardari’s decision to become the president was also not true as the subject was not discussed with key stakeholders, political and apolitical, causing irritation and concern among many concerned quarters.

One general view in Islamabad is that Zardari had suddenly put too many things on his plate and it was almost impossible for him to handle them singlehandedly. “This one man show cannot sustain, as one person cannot physically be the party head, de facto PM, de jure president, party strategist, economic czar, wheeler and dealer, manpower manager, political mastermind. This all-in-one approach was detrimental to the country,” a senior analyst said.

The key concern in the security establishment is not why he is doing it but what he is doing. The Army pulled out of all political matters, to a great degree if not altogether, in the hope that politicians would collectively put their heads and wisdom together, reach consensus on critical security, economic and political issues quickly, frame policies accordingly and provide clear guidelines to the Army to implement these policies.

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani made it clear a number of times that the Army was ready to take orders from the politicians provided they own the policies and share the credit or discredit of success or failure.

But instead of getting all the political parties together to address the very sensitive and highly critical security and economic issues, Mr Zardari’s hit and run style of politics has splintered the political spectrum in a way that a Pandora’s box has reopened, all small time political actors and jokers have overnight become holders of immense political clout and even the balancing power, blackmailing and horse trading rates have skyrocketed and in this mess, the urgent need to address the issues has been ignored.

So fast has this degeneration taken place that the strong and united support, needed by the forces fighting the security and economic wars on several fronts, has vanished leaving these forces completely unnerved, in a state of near panic and vulnerable.

On some of these fronts, like the war against domestic terrorism and the battle to keep foreign interference in FATA and northern areas, including even the Frontier Province, the establishment feels there is absolutely no time to waste and a stage is soon arriving where even our best forces and best efforts would not work.

A functionary ranked high in matters of security, in a candid discussion in Islamabad, came up with a scaring and almost hair-raising scenario: “What if our forces in Swat or FATA refuse to fight any more because of lack of will and political support. Where would that take the country and who will stop the onslaught of the Taliban then.”

Likewise, a top bureaucrat said the situation was getting so quickly out of control that all senior and competent officers were scrambling to get out of Pakistan on any post, be it ambassadorship or representative of Pakistan in world organisations. The business community has already stopped investing and the dollar is moving out in millions to safer parking lots.

The top PPP leadership is paralysed and unable to defend the actions and policies of its leaders in public or the media. The oft-repeated and grossly overused card of Benazir’s ultimate sacrifice is losing its impact so fast people have started asking questions whether her death had gone in vain.

Building from that high point when Zardari declared ‘Pakistan Khappe’ to the world, hours after Benazir’s assassination when Sindh was literally burning, people are now asking whether Benazir died in vain. This is a major climbdown. ‘Pakistan Khappe’ means Pakistan is viable and counters the sentiment in Sindh that they do not want to stay together.

Yet the initial brilliance and resilience shown by Zardari has turned into authoritarianism and arrogance of power, displayed mostly before his party leaders. Another unfolding personality trait experienced by his key coalition partners, and the nation, has been his slippery nature, going back on his word, ignoring his commitments and promises, oral or written, and then publicly justifying that what he was doing was all in the domain of politics and hence permissible.

This wily petty politics is untenable and unacceptable at the level where he has risen. A strong sense of moral uprightness is needed and a man who openly proves that he does not stand by his promises, can hardly make a claim to be the head of the state. Zardari has to quickly correct this image if he is to be taken seriously.

These antics have brought his credibility as a leader with a vision and capability to lead the nation to almost nil. Even a foxy political leader like Maulana Fazlur Rehman has publicly expressed annoyance and repulsion, although everyone knows where Maulana comes from. Suddenly for him the bargaining rates have jumped out of the roof.

The Sharif brothers are awe-struck and unable to digest what is happening so fast around them. They still want the coalition to work, as do all the major stakeholders of the country’s political, economic and security establishment, but Mr Zardari is making hard for everyone to deal with him.

A very credible source told me in Islamabad that when a top US diplomat, sitting with some friends heard the news that Zardari would contest the presidential election, she immediately grabbed her head with both hands and kept shaking it for some time before uttering the words: “Will we now deal with President Zardari.”

In my interactions, I talked to Zardari as well and in my candid way told him that as a very dear friend I wanted him to step back from the decision to contest the presidential election. “Why do you say so,” he asked. “Because you will not be able to handle it, because it will be too much for everyone to swallow and digest so quickly, because if you fail you will bring the entire political system down.”

When told that if becoming the president was so important for him, he could have achieved that goal through a consensus in the coalition and would have become the head of state without causing any of the political turmoil that he has unleashed.

“The price my partners were asking was too much,” he responded. “They were asking for restoration of the judges on Nov 2 position and that would have offended the MQM who would destabilise Sindh,” he said.

The response was unbelievable for me and I did not argue with him. But this is where he has gone so wrong in his thinking. If he did not want to annoy his junior partner in Sindh for fear of instability, whose support by the way he does not need to sustain the Sindh government, how could he throw out a major partner at the Centre, who he needs to keep his government, and which will destabilise the entire country. Is stability in Sindh more important than stability in Pakistan?

But it turned out later that the excuse he gave me was just an excuse as he has been telling Nawaz Sharif that if he restored the judges, the ANP would be annoyed. Being a serious political party, the ANP quickly clarified that they stood firmly for the restoration of the judges and Mr Zardari was not telling the truth.

Still on credibility issue, what a terrible mess Zardari has allowed them to make. He tells the foreign media that Justice Iftikhar was involved in politics. Then he tells Geo TV Justice Iftikhar will be restored soon. His prime minister first promises that all the judges would be restored in a week and when that deadline passes, he says Justice Iftikhar is the ‘Imam’ of all the judges and all of them would be restored. When, he does not say but probably after Mr Zardari becomes the president.

Still on the same day these promises are made by Zardari and PM Gilani, the law minister sings another tune and says all Nov 3 actions were legal, Justice Dogar is the rightful Chief Justice of Pakistan and there cannot be two CJs, meaning Justice Iftikhar will not be restored. Can anyone explain this glaring display of deceit, deception and chicanery. Is this the way the presidency and the prime minister house and the government will be run?

While everyone is asking this question, many in Islamabad and Rawalpindi are wondering who is looking after the key national security interests of Pakistan as time for many crucial decisions is running out faster than anyone can imagine.

Instead of using the immense force of political unity to tackle these issues, like they did to remove Musharraf, a major obstacle in their way, Mr Zardari has chosen the path which cannot solve any of these issues. The moment the coalition was broken, the high point of the political system was reached and now it would be downslide only.

Still Mr Zardari can save the situation if he can think and decide clearly, disproving the planted reports about his mental illness. He must step back from the presidential election, agree on a neutral consensus candidate with the PML-N and other partners, bring the Nawaz group back, as they are prepared to come back, remove the 17th Amendment as he had promised, restore the judges and then quickly move on to govern, as the prime minister if he wants powers, or from behind the scene as he has been doing.

The alternative is unimaginable. By trying to grab the presidency, he has forced all his opponents and enemies to instantly rally together and stop him. The establishment is confused but is quickly discussing whether neutrality to the extent that it damages the country is a better option or whether intervention to stop the situation going totally out of hand is advisable. Mr Zardari, unfortunately, has forced them to make that decision very soon.

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Troops foil suicide car bomb near Kohat

Friday, 29 Aug, 2008 | 11:53 PKT

KOHAT: Troops foiled a suicide attack on a vital road tunnel in the north-western town of Kohat on Friday, firing on a speeding vehicle that exploded. As a result of the attack, two persons were killed and 29 others injured including security personnel.

Paramilitary troops guarding the Kohat Tunnel shot at the car after its driver ignored signals to stop, said a local police official.

Flying debris from the subsequent blast wounded 20 people, most of them troops but also several civilians, the official said. Only the bomber was killed.

The Kohat Tunnel links the regional capital of Peshawar with garrison towns on the edge of tribal regions.

Troops are posted at both ends of the tunnel and check every vehicle seeking to pass through out of concern militants could use a bomb to block it.

A government official in Kohat, said security forces arrested a local Taliban commander named Mohammed Ajmal and three of his associates at the tunnel on Thursday.

‘It seems the militants are angered over these arrests, and they wanted to avenge it by targeting security forces,’ he said.

However, according to APP reports, the suspected suicide bomber blew up his explosive laden car when it reached close to the Kohat Tunnel.

Soon after the explosion, the management of Kohat Tunnel closed down the tunnel for traffic and security has been tightened.

The injured have been shifted to KDA and CMH hospitals for treatment.

SOURCE

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Pakistan terror war focus finally on target, says US: Kayani attends secret talks with American military chief on aircraft carrier

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, Aug 28: After a secret meeting between senior US and Pakistani generals, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told a briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday that the military-to-military relationship between the two countries was “growing every day”.

Admiral Mullen also told the briefing he believed Pakistan’s focus in the war on terror was where it should have been.

The meeting, held on Wednesday aboard US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean, considered various proposals for fighting extremists in Fata.

“I came away from the meeting very encouraged that the focus is where it needs to be and that the military-to-military relationship we’re building with Pakistan is getting stronger every day,” said Admiral Mullen.

Other top US generals who attended the meeting included Gen David Petraeus, top US commander in Iraq, who will soon take charge of the US command for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan; Gen David McKiernan, Nato’s top commander in Afghanistan; and Admiral Eric Olson, head of the US special operations command. Also present were Lt-Gen Martin Dempsey, acting commander of American forces in the Middle East, and Rear Admiral Michael LeFever, senior American military liaison to Pakistan.

The Pakistani side was represented by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and his key commanders.

The meeting underscored the great concern both Pakistan and the US feel about the grave threat posed by a resurgent Taliban and a determined Al Qaeda to the stability and integrity of Pakistan and Afghanistan, US officials said.

The extreme secrecy surrounding the talks came amidst a series of worrying developments: continuing political turmoil in Pakistan, increasingly deadly attacks against Afghan and western targets in Afghanistan and a US top general’s complaints that the Pakistani military is not doing enough to stop militants from launching attacks into Afghanistan.

Admiral Mullen said the daylong meeting was a continuation of the dialogue both Pakistan and the US had been trying to maintain about common security challenges they faced, particularly in the border regions.

“There is a growing complexity and coordination among extremist groups there, an almost syndicate-like behaviour that has resulted in new and ever more sophisticated attacks on coalition forces,” he said.

The meeting, he said, was a chance to better understand a very complex challenge in a critical part of the world and “to try to do that through the eyes of the leadership who live and work and fight there every single day”.

Pakistani diplomatic sources in Washington, however, told Dawn that the decision to hold such a meeting was made in the US capital last month when Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani visited the White House.

During the visit, US officials repeated their complaints that Pakistan was not doing enough and that there were people in Pakistani intelligence agencies and the Frontier Corps who sympathised with the militants.

“The Americans also said that they were afraid to share intelligence with Pakistan because such data is often leaked to the militants,” said a senior Pakistani diplomat.

The prime minister, according to the sources, told the Americans that since the two militaries had dealt with each other directly in the past as well, it would be better if top generals from both sides met and sorted out their differences.

“One of the main objectives of this meeting was to rebuild trust between US and Pakistani militaries,” the diplomat said.

Admiral Mullen also emphasised similar points while talking about the meeting.

“We certainly talked about the complexity, the challenges that we have in the border area, the pressure that we believe needs to be brought there for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the effects it’s having on the fight in Afghanistan,” he said.

Pakistani diplomatic sources, however, claimed that the two sides also discussed a proposal to end unilateral US military strikes in Fata, although they did not say if the Americans agreed to stop the strikes.

Admiral Mullen said the US and Pakistan were also discussing a US proposal to train Pakistani troops for fighting militants.

“That’s a continuous, ongoing discussion. No big breakthroughs there. Still committed to, where we can and where they ask us, committed to help them and train them where they ask for the kind of assistance that they think they need,” he said.

Fata central front in war on terror, says Biden

By Our Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Aug 28: The central front against terrorism is in Pakistan and Afghanistan and not in Iraq, says Joe Biden, the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

The senator from Delaware, who was declared Barack Obama’s running mate at a convention in Denver on Wednesday night, devoted part of his acceptance speech to highlight the fight against extremists in Fata.

“The resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan (is) the real central front against terrorism,” he warned. “The fact is Al Qaeda and the Taliban — the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 — have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks.”

Although an old friend of Republican candidate John McCain, Mr Biden used his acceptance speech to launch a frontal attack on his Senate colleague. He recalled that only three years ago, Senator McCain had suggested that the US had won the war in Afghanistan and that’s why it was not in the news anymore.

“Now, let me ask you: Whose judgment should we trust? Should we trust John McCain’s judgment …? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?” he asked.

Mr Biden noted that Senator Obama was not alone in emphasising the need to take the war along the Afghan-Pakistan border more seriously. “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Barack’s call for more troops.”

Mr Biden’s choice for the Democratic ticket aims at thwarting Republican criticism that Senator Obama has had little exposure to international issues.

As the head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Mr Biden not only has firsthand experience of dealing with such issues but also has travelled across the world and personally knows key world leaders.

Mr Biden underlined his credentials in the acceptance speech. “I’ve been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.

“And I can tell you in no uncertain terms: this administration’s policy has been an abject failure. America cannot afford four more years of this.”

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