Saturday, October 31, 2009

Those who wait...

I hope you all take the time to read this. I couldn't agree with the author more.

While the entire piece deals with the demise of the PPP as a democratic force in the country, its most important point (which is also the least discussed) is the dilemma many Pakistanis face when it comes time to cast ballots. Who can you vote for when everyone is in it for themselves?

I dedicate this video to those of us searching for alternatives. I hope we find what we are looking for

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No shit, Sherlock!

Pakistan's Minister for Information and Broadcasting is requesting that electronic media avoid live coverage of the attacks because it depresses the masses.

Is this really news to any of us? I mean who gets a warm fuzzy feeling when watching a news coverage of an area ripped apart by bomb blasts. But I don't see how preventing news media to provide live coverage of these incidents is beneficial for the Pakistani people. Ignorance may be bliss, but not in this case. The public needs to be aware of the ugly reality of these attacks  in order to fully comprehend the threat that Al-Qaeda affiliated groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) pose to this nation. And live media coverages of such attacks play an important role in this. In fact, these coverages have been pivotal in shifting public opinion against the Taliban.

So why would the Pakistani government want to limit these coverages?

 Its actually very simple.

The widespread carnage over the last two weeks which has been covered live by the media has created dissatisfaction (to put it mildly) among the masses about the capability of this government to stand up to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its ilk. Unlike these elected officials, the majority of Pakistanis cannot afford round the clock security. It doesn't help that all of our politicians (and I mean all, regardless of who is in power and who is not) have spent their time hiding out in their barricaded houses under tight security and have done nothing to comfort the public which has to go deal with this violence on a regular basis. Zardari has made no public appearances. He has not visited the soldiers who are fighting in the front lines. He has not met with the relatives of those who have died in the latest Peshawar attacks.

By trying to prevent the masses from seeing the aftermath of these attacks, the government has chosen to save its own political skin instead of reassuring the public. And that is the real tragedy of this situation

Peshawar Blast-Coverage

I'm trying to upload coverages from as many networks as possible not only to provide the widest range of information possible, but to also show how these sources differ from each other in their coverage of these attacks.

Associated press reports from the scene



Coverage from ITN News (UK)



NBC's coverage



Fox News (I know, they're not exactly a news network)



Samaa TV (another Pakistani Network) showing the confusion at the scene



Express 24/7; an Pakistani News Network-English



Sky News (British)

Peshawar Blasts-Updated

A car bomb exploded in Peepal Mandi, a crowded marketplace in Peshawar killing 95 and injuring more than 213 people in one of the deadliest attacks in recent history.
It was a car bomb. Some people are still trapped in a building. We are trying to rescue them,’ bomb disposal official Shafqat Malik told reporters.
These attacks come just hours after US secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad to meet with political and military leaders.


Urdu




English



Murtaza Razvi from Dawn.com- "Attacking our way of life". I agree with every word


US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton responds below. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi-the violence will not break the will of the Pakistani people.



Security expert: Peshawar attack demonstrates arrogance of Taliban-CNN


According to the Huffington post, no one has taken responsibility for these attacks as of yet

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Canon  condemns attacks

British Foreign Secretary David Milliband condemns attacks

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon: "Outraged over loss of so many lives"



New York Times: images from attack site

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can you please get to the point?

 I was surfing the net when I came across this video from a Pakistani current affairs program called Thodi Si Siyasat, broadcast by Geo TV. Watching this show (for the first time), I was struck by the lack of coherence in its format. This guy started out by talking about ISI Chief's visit to the Indian High Comission complaining how this mean that we were sissies to the complaints of the Indian Comissioner chastising the Pakistani National Assembly for accepting the Kerry-Lugar Bill (or KLB as many have fondly dubbed it) and then India claiming rockets were launched from the Pakistani side of the Wagah border and then skipping over to the Mumbai attacks.

After just listening to this guy for 2:29, I was exhausted. I just had one question: What the @$# do these things have to do with each other?

Just get to the point already!!!!

Waziristan Offensive update

  Eleven militants and two security personnel were reported dead in a gun battle following a militant attack at an army check point in Mohmand, South Waziristan. The army retaliated, striking at a suspected militant comound, resulting in the deaths of an additional 11 militants. The Inter services public relations notes that in the past 24 hours, 42 militants have been killed, in the military advance from Kotkai and surrounding  villages to Touda China and Ganra Kach, near Sararogha which is reputed to be a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stronghold.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Roti List: Orphaned Land

This week's music feature is Orphaned Land, an Israeli death metal band credited with the creation of a new genre of metal known as Oriental death metal. Oriental death metal utilizes Arabic percussion and strings with electric guitar shredding and harsh metal vocals. Orphaned Land is not only one of the biggest music phenomenon in Israel but it is popular throughout the Middle East. In fact, the band sings in a variety of languages including English, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Yiddish. Their songs usually have a biblical context and focus on extremes such as meeting of east and west, light and darkness and God and Satan.

My favorite song to date is the Birth of the Three which focuses on the commonality between the three Abrahamic faiths in a very death metal way. Whether you're a burgeoning metal head like me or someone who has never listened to metal before, I hope you take the time to check this song out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Headlines

Shafique Ahmad Khan, the Balochistan education minister has been shot dead in after armed gunmen opened fire in front of his house in Quetta. Balochistan liberation United Front has claimed responsibility for the attacks

Six army personnel are dead in an military helicopter crash in Bajaur when returning from a routine supply mission  from the border regions.

Thirty five Uzbek and Afghan nationals including seven women have been arrested after being found illegally in the country

It seems Musharraf has decide to put himself back in the game after seeking official contacts with the US government, meetings which according to the Obama administration have no significance.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Karachi paradox

In recent headlines pertaining to Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) related violence across Pakistan's major metropolitan centers, Karachi seems to be missing. And I'm not the only one who has noticed this. In fact both Nadeem Paracha (Dawn Blogs) and Ahsan (Five rupees) have both commented on what I'd like to call the Karachi paradox.

Being a former Karachiite, I can tell you that Karachi is by no means peaceful. In fact, since the late 70's/early 80's it has always been characterized by a combination of ethnic, political and religious violence. Actually, I would argue that the main ongoing tensions in the city are in fact all political, with religious (Sunni vs. Shiite) and ethnic overtones (Sindhi vs. Mohajir, Pashtun vs. Mohajir). The only purely political violence would be the power struggles between Altaf's MQM and MQM Haqiqi (a breakaway group) in the late 80's/early 90's at the height of which sacks filled with the mutilated bodies of young men were found everywhere.

Karachi is also Pakistan's largest city with an estimated population of 12-19 million as compared to Lahore (6-10 milllion), Rawalpindi (1-3million) and Peshawar(1-2million) as well. It is also Pakistan's commercial capital. So why has Pakistan's most violent, populous and economically important city been ignored in this recent string of violence? (not that I want it to be targeted).

Both Nadeem and Ahsan have provided several hypotheses for this. According to Nadeem, the relative calm is a product of its ethnic and religious plurality. While I would prefer this explanation for the recent calm, just as I would prefer that people opt for singing Kumbaya while holding hands instead of killing each other over disagreements, the cynic in me has trouble accepting this. Ahsan on the other hand, attributes this phenomenon to a number of possible reasons from the shift of focus of the TTP from civilian to state actors,  to  increased vigilance on the part of security forces and the recognition of the Taliban as a "bad" entity on part of MQM resulting in action against burgeoning militant groups.

In my opinion (once again I'm not an expert), the combination of all three factors that Ahsan  mentioned  has contributed to this calm. While Karachi is the most populous and economically important city in Pakistan, it is not the seat of political and military power.In this sense Punjab is very important. When Pakistan under Musharaf, agreed to cooperate with the United States to act against Taliban and Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, there was a major shift in military policy. Instead of ignoring and abeting these groups as had previously been done, the military took combative action. This meant that the Pakistani army was no longer an ignorable entity for these groups. Thus the attacks on army posts and personnel in NWFP and the recent attack on the GHQ. In addition, Punjab is also the headquaters of state apparatus making it key for anyone who wants to gain control of the country.According to this hypothesis it makes sense that recent violence has hit heavily in this region and Karachi like the rest of Sindh has been ignored.

The second important factor is the MQM. The MQM exerts a political hegemony in Karachi and has on many occasion wrestled with the political aspiration of other ethnic groups; in recent times this has been the Pashtuns and their Awami National Party (ANP). The most recent examples of this would be the excluding Swat refugees from entering Karachi as it would upset the Pashtun-Mohajir demography by increasing the number of Pashtuns in the city  resulting  in an increased power base for the ANP. This would have threatened MQM's political dominance in the city. Ahsan is correct in identifying the hyper-vigilance of the MQM as a reason for the comparative calm in Karachi. However, I would disagree with his assertion that this is somewhat due to the secular nature of the party (as well as anti-pashtun). In fact, MQM has on occasion worked with radical islamic groups in the past, specifically Jamat-Ulama-Islam (JUI) which espouses values similar to the TTP. I would base this hyper-vigilance specifically on its xenophobic attitude towards the Pashtuns which is based on maintaining its political hegemony in Karachi.

As for the increased vigilance on part of the security forces, this once again falls into the domain of the MQM. Being the ruling party in Karachi, MQM has the ability to use security forces to maintain its policies. In my opinion this hypothesis is an extension of Ahsan's second argument and the least important out the three.

On a less serious note, I've dedicated this version of Kumbaya to all of you who bother to read my posts. I hope you enjoy it.


Kotkai under military control and other developments

According to army forces, Kotkai has fallen into military hands after three days of intense aerial bombardment Twelve militants and three soldiers have been reported dead in the final stages of the Kotkai takeover.

In related news, security agencies have captured  two men believed to be the highest ranking members of the Punjabi Taliban and are considered the master minds behind the Rawalpindi GHQ attacks as well as others in Lahore. It is also thought that these two men served as the links between the Punjab and Waziristan branches of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan.

In Bajaur, 18 suspected militants were killed when US drone strikes targeted an ongoing TTP shura. It is reported that the TTP deputy in chief Maulana Faqir had left the area just ten minutes before the attacks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Roti List: Rokia Traore

While surfing the internet I come across a lot of innovative, imaginative and outstanding music from a wide variety of different genres and languages. Considering the talent of these musicians, I am surprised at how little known their work is. The Roti List (my playlist) is a series of blog posts that aims to highlight these musicians. I hope you enjoy their music as much as I do

For the first post in this series, I have decided to focus on Rokia Traore. She is a award winning Malian Singer (Mali is a country in West Africa), Songwriter and Guitarist who uses vocal melodies in traditional Malian music. She sings in a combination of french and Bambarra (one of the languages of Mali). I've posted one of my favorite songs below. If you are interested in her work check her website out (Please note the website is in french, but you can use Google translate to access it in English).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Five things you can do with poop

#1 Poo paper

Yes, you heard me correctly. Paper made from poo. Poo paper can be made from a variety of animal excrement including, sheep, cow, elephant and even panda poo.

Here is a notebook made from elephant poo


Sheep poo envelopes




and finally greeting cards made from Panda poo



There are even instructional videos on making poo paper








Celebs are in on it too





#2 Jewelry

I thought people were joking, but then I came across this:






Don't they look nice. Well, these are moose poo earrings. And there is more...

Koala poo earrings




Reindeer poop necklace




Or if you're really classy
Gold plated koala poop earrings





#3 Lip Balm

 Alaska Gift.com sells a variety of Moose poop products including Moose nugget lip chap; a lip balm made from Moose poo. 







#4 Toilets and Energy?

Virginia Gardiner a sustainable designer  has recently launched the LOOWatt, a toilet designed entirely of poo.





According to her website:

The LooWatt aims to solve this global sanitation crisis by creating an entirely new waste disposal infrastructure. The composting toilet is molded from 90% horse dung, and features a biodegradable lining that stores excrement in a sealed, odor-free container. Once the toilet is full, the user takes the poo package to an outdoor biodigestor, which in exchange provides a free source of biofuel for cooking.

An interview with the designer:






#5 Grow food

Taking recycling to the next level


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update on Islamic University Blasts

Aljazeera correspondent describes on the scene carnage in a short blog post:

Inside the university, the smell of smoke makes you choke. On the ground, a blood trail leaves you in no doubt as to the ferocity of this attack.


Everyday objects are strewn across the floor. I pick up a watch, a cheap $10 affair from one of the local markets. It's blackened and burnt.


I wonder if its owner is alive or dead.

More details emerge about the blasts. According to Associated Free Press (AFP), the first bomb went off in the faculty of Islamic Jurisprudence used by male students and the second went off in a women's cafeteria.

There has been no responsibility claimed for these attacks although the blast bears similarity to the recent wave of suicide bombing carried out by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Interior Minister Rehman Malikr responds :"Pakistan is in a state of war"

PM Office condemns the attacks

...the perpetrators of such heinous crime would not be spared.

CNN reports live from the blast site


Conspiracy theories emerge;Indian (RAW) and Israeli(Moussad) intelligence agencies behind the attacks

Orla Guerin of BBC News reports

One of the blasts happened outside the office of the professor of Sharia law. The blast was so powerful that it punched a massive hole in the wall of that office.

Rubble and masonry were littered on the floor, as well as some shoes - it's unclear whether these belonged to the bomber or one of his victims.

One student said the sky went dark when the explosion happened, that some people ran away in fear while others tried to help the victims.


If you are in Islamabad, BBC would like to hear from you. You can send your comments, thoughts and opinions using the comment form available at the bottom of the linked BBC article.


Video news coverage:

Dunya


Dawn News Report


Geo TV

Blasts at Islamic University in Islamabad

Militants have continued to step up their attacks in the wake of the the South Waziristan offensive. Today, two bomb blasts were set off at the Islamic University in Islamabad killing seven people (including the two suicide bombers) and injuring 29 others. Up to four thousand students were present at the time of the blasts, one of which occurred inside a classroom. I will continue to provide update as more details emerge.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

South Waziristan update

Approximately 60 militants are reported dead in the recent South Waziristan clashes. The military has also reported casualties with five dead and 11 injured. According to army officials, the resistance has not been as stiff, but this is expected to change once the offensive moves into Taliban strongholds such as Kotakai, Makin, Ladha and Manikurram.

I've also posted a map below of the FATA region for reference.  (courtesy of BBC)


Sounding the drums of war

As I am writing this piece, the military offensive in South Waziristan has already begun. After a weeks of deadly suicide attacks across five cities in Punjab and the North West Frontier Province, tanks, troops and artillery including helicopter gunships and jets have begun making their way into the FATA region. While the Pakistani armed forces are confident that this offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda will be a successful one, its prudent to remind ourselves that we have been here before. The last three military offensives in this region; in 2004, 2005 and in 2008 ended in peace deals.

So what makes this one so different? For one, the military has come to understand the threat that these militants pose to not only its existence but also its legitimacy in Pakistani society. For years the military has enjoyed excesses, carving out an opulent first world existence in a third world country. This existence was justified with the role of the army in protecting Pakistanis from the threat of "big, bad" India. Well, the times have changed. The ongoing suicide attacks  have shown the incompetency on part of the military forces to the protect the civilian population. Another reason would be the sheer difference in the logistics of war this time around. In the last three operations only a fraction of troops were committed compared to the 28,000 troops taking part now.

Are these changes going to be enough this time around? I'm not so sure. The success of the offensive in Waziristan depends on the ability of the Pakistani armed forces to deal with guerilla warfare in a strategic manner. While the military may seem to have an upper hand due to the massive arsenal  employed, the Mesuds (a tribe from which the TTP primarily draws its support) do not only know South Waziristan's geography inside out, but are also well aware of  the strengths and limitations of warfare in this region. This may have undoubtedly contributed to their previous success in engagements with the Paksitan army. Just something to keep in mind. The South Waziristan offensive also cannot be successful  without the cooperation of US and NATO forces across the border. As seen in previous occasions,  TTP militants are not averse to "border hopping". Cross border cooperation will ensure that any spillover effect from this operation is minimal.

Even if the army succeeds in destroying TTP-Al Qaeda infrastructure in South Waziristan, it still has to deal with its most recent incarnation: the Punjabi Taliban. It is all well and good to roll in gung-ho in a mountainous region with a population of 500,000 people and very little in the way of infrastructure. But how exactly are you going to fight an enemy in the heavliy populated heartlands of Punjab?

While I hope for the success of the military offensive in South Wazirstan, I can't help but feel that this response is a case of too little too late. In my (non-expert) opinion, the future of the Taliban has already been decided with the emergence of the group in Punjab. I sincerely hope that I am wrong about this, and the recent violence are just acts of desperation (highly unlikely, but still probable)

On a lighter note: posted below are songs that are part of my South Waziristan  soundtrack. Enjoy!











Thursday, October 15, 2009

And the violence continues

Militant groups continued to flex their muscles today through a series of coordinated attacks on a police training school, a elite commando training centre and the Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore, killing a total of 27 people and injuring 30 more. According to police out of the 13 militants involved, three were female.

In Quetta, unknown militants attacked security officials with grenades.

Eleven people were also killed and several were wounded in a when a car bomb exploded near Cantt Police Station in Kohat. School children have been counted among the dead and the wounded. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has taken responsibility for these attacks

Several people were injured, including a child when a remote controlled car bomb went off in Peshawar's Gulshan Rehman colony.



They're at it again...

The Conservatives are in hot water after images of government cheques being given out with the conservative part logo on it.



This of course has caused a severe bout of hyper-ventilation on the part of the opposition (aka Liberals), who are calling for an investigation from the federal ethics commissioner to look at 47 instances of "partisan chequing". In addition, Liberals are also mulling over asking Elections Canada to launch and inquiry over the illegal donations being made to the Conservative Party.

On his part, Steven Harper (aka Prime Minister extraordinaire, aka sun king) has repeatedly called for the removal of partisan logos from said cheques.

Partisan symbols on government cheques cross the line from independent public money being offered for public services and incentives given to openly promote a partisan cause.It would be good for Steven Harper and his conservatives to remember that they represent Canada and not just the Conservative party

Monday, October 12, 2009

Innovation in News from Monrovia

Journalism takes on an unexpected from in Liberia (West Africa)

If you're looking to quote someone...

...don't quote him.

While surfing the web, I came across a compilation of memorable quotes by Musharraf on Dawn.com, which made me laugh and wonder "What was this man thinking?". I have decided to share my favorites.

‘I'm not a politician. I don't have the makings of a politician. I believe in straight talk.’
On the 2002 elections timetable given out – BBC on 27 July, 2000


‘The people love me. I'm a popular leader wherever I go. Those who are protesting against me are idiots. They don't know anything.’
On people’s sentiments towards him – BBC on 15 October, 2001

‘I am a fighter, I will fight you. I do not give up and if you can shout, I can shout louder.’
On denying making the women exploiting rape statements published in the Post interview – Dawn on 18 September, 2005

‘All this today, in the past six years, what I have done in Pakistan, is really the essence of democracy. What the West looks at is just the label of democracy.’
On defining democracy in Pakistan – BBC interview with Barbara Plett on 1 March 2006

What about you?


Militant attacks on Shangla

Four soldiers and three policemen were among the 41 killed and 60 injured in today's attack in Shangla when a teenage suicide bomber struck a military vehicle in a crowded market place at 11am. This is among a string of terror attacks that is thought to be associated with the upcoming military offensive in South Waziristan.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Update: Rawalpindi GHQ attacks

Commandos stormed Pakistani army headquarters today, ending a day long hostage crisis freeing held by militants who attempted to attack the GHQ in Rawalpindi. Despite the fact that 19 people are dead, including two soldiers, two hostages and four suspected Taliban the mission was hailed as highly successful. The attack on Pakistan's army GHQ on October 10th leading to this hostage crisis had questioned the effectiveness of Pakistan's response to the Taliban.

GHQ attack coverage part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hostage Crisis at Rawalpindi GHQ

Dawn.com reports that militants are holding up to 15 army personnel hostage after trying to storm the Pakistani army GHQ leaving 6 soldiers and 5 militants dead. It is estimated that about 10 militants dressed as armed army personnel with grenades and automatic weapons drove into the compound, shooting their way through a checkpoint.

Four militants were killed at the second checkpoint, but the rest fled to an office just outside the compound. Between 10 and 15 people are still in militant hands more than 12 hours after the assault began.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Update: Peshawar Bombings

At least six people have been reportedly killed in a bomb explosion in Khyber Bazaar nearing NWFP assembly.

According to hospital sources, six people have lost their lives while scores others have been injured, meanwhile, emergency has been imposed in all city hospitals.

I wish it were April 1st

I am flabbergasted that Obama has won the Nobel peace prize.Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't the peace prize go to someone who has actually promoted peace in the world. I know that many of Obama supporters will claim that Obama has popularized diplomacy and understanding as opposed to aggression when dealing with international conflicts. Others will note that his efforts towards ending nuclear proliferation and his reconciliatory tone with the Muslim world makes him worthy of this award. I am not so sure.

Obama may symbolize hope and change for millions around the world, but nothing substantial has been achieved during his time in office. He has yet to pass health-care reforms, his efforts towards Palestinian and Israeli bilateral talks have only emboldened settlement construction. He may have ended the campaign in Iraq, but its only so he could bolster the Afghan war. He continues to approve drone attacks in Pakistan which not only threaten its sovereignty but create excessive civilian casualties. His administration has downplayed China's human rights record. I agree with John Dickerson (Slate.com) in his assertion that Obama win symbolizes a win for political pageantry, flair and atmospherics over substantiated work.

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses." I don't believe Obama is that person right now.

Here are some other reactions:

Michael Kaus for Slate Magazine makes an interesting case for why Obama should not accept the prize. See Twitter also

The Taliban condemn Obama's win.

Nobel Peace prize Laureate Leach Walesa is surprised.
Who? What? So fast?"

"Well, there's hasn't been any contribution to peace yet. He's proposing things, he's initiating things, but he is yet to deliver," he said.




Former US Ambassador John Bolton calls for Obama to decline it.

"The Nobel committee is preaching at Americans, but they won't be deceived," says Bolton. "He should decline it and then ask to be considered again in three or four years when he has a record."

"I was nominated three years ago and I'm still waiting for the call," laughs Bolton. "Today's news is just another demonstration of how politicized the Nobel Peace Prize has become, from President Carter winning in 2002, to Al Gore in 2007, and President Obama in 2009."
Nicholas Kristoff ( the NYT reporter who highlighted  Mukhtar Mai's case globally) is non-plussed.
I'm nonplussed -- I admire his efforts toward Middle East peace, but the prize still seems very premature. What has he done? ... Shouldn't the Nobel Peace Prize have a higher bar than high expectations? Especially when there are so many people who have worked for years and years on the front lines, often in dangerous situations, to make a difference to the most voiceless people of the world?

 Eugene Rogan, director of the Middle East Center at Oxford University in England.

"The award is premature.He hasn't done anything yet. But he's made clear from the start of his presidency his commitment to promote peace. No doubt the Nobel committee hopes the award will enhance his moral authority to advance the cause of peace while he's still president."


See also, Slate magazine list of people who should have won the Nobel prize but did not.





Tuesday, October 6, 2009

David Caplan resigns over eHealth fiasco

Liberal Health Minister, David Caplan will resign over the eHealth Ontario spending scandal tommorow, the same day that Auditor General Jim McCarter will release a scathing report into the eHealth Ontario spending scandal that is expected to show $1 billion in wasted funds.The opposition parties have been calling for his resignation since the scandal broke in June of this year. 

 This has been a long time coming. The Liberals did not  expect to come out of this unscathed and frankly speaking they deserved this. After all, wasting $1 billion dollars in public money is no joke.


More developments on the Suaad case

The Liberal MPs continued to pressure the Prime Minister to apologize to Suaad Hagi Mohamud for her three month ordeal in Kenya. Three opposition politicians, Bob Rae, Dan McTeague and Joe Volpe, the MP representing Suaad Hagi Mohamud, say
(It is) unacceptable that Ottawa has mobilized its defences to fight a lawsuit filed after a family visit turned into a three-month nightmare.
 I have reported previous developments on this case,  Suaad was originally flagged by an airline employee as to whether the passport was actually hers. Canadian officials determined that she was an impostor based on her photo and her inability to answer specific questions, however DNA results proved that she was in fact who she claimed to be.

The MPs allege that in addition to not admitting that it had made the wrong decision, Prime Minister Steven Harper lied to the public stating on Aug. 18 that he only learned of Mohamud's case the week before.

An e-mail filed in court as part of the government's statement of defence suggests Harper was aware of the high-profile case as early as July 1, the day the Toronto Star first brought Mohamud's case to light.

Catherine Loubier, director of communications for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, ordered department officials to prepare an "urgent" response for the prime minister in case he was questioned by reporters at a Canada Day event later that day.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud has recently been accused for misrepresenting her situation to the public, something which the opposition allege is a scare tactic. Given the fact that any emerging information on this case had been assessed under partisan viewpoints, there is a sore need for a public review. If the government did play a role in the detention of Ms. Mohamud in Kenya, then it must pay its dues. Meanwhile, it would be prudent if legislation requiring the Canadian government to help its citizens abroad was passed, if only to ensure that the government does not face a 2.5 million dollar lawsuit again.

See below

Friday, October 2, 2009

Times have changed

Pakistan's intelligence, defense and security forces have always been shrouded by rumours of rampant abuse. While there have been some judicial inquiries into these allegations (including one on disappeared persons by Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudry), the actions of these forces remain largely unchallenged. Well, things have changed. The emergence of a 10 minute video appearing to show army personnel beating a man detained in anti-militant operations has forced the army to issue a public statement stating that it is investigating the alleged abuse (figuring out how the video got public in the first place).

This is a welcome development. The fact that a youtube video has made the army sweat is a reminder of the fact that Pakistan has indeed changed

Please note that the video contains distrubing content and is not advised for individuals below the age of 18.



Thursday, October 1, 2009

In the eye of the beholder

Foxy Shahzadi, a 1974 beetle is ready to hit the road after receiving its Pakistani truck art makeover. Originally the property of  Dr. Vincent Ioos, a french doctor serving for three years at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences’ Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Islamabad, this vehicle will make a 25 day journey from Islamabad to France. 


Dr Vincent Ioos and Dr Haroon Khan with the 'Foxy Shahzadi'. —Photo by Tanveer Shahzad (taken from Dawn.com)


The foxy shahzadi gives a chance for indigenous Pakistani artists (what else can you call them) to show off their work all over the world, providing a genuine glimpse into Pakistan's culture. In a time when major headlines of Pakistani are related to Obama's War in Afghanistan, its good to hear about something else for a change.




Cartoons of the Day

Just another day at the UN