Population Control is no Shame – Pakistan has no oil and Electricity or Gas

fertility in check

-Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed
-Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed

While contraceptives do help with family planning, what really helps is preventing women from marrying very young.A survey in Pakistan revealed that women under 19 years of age at marriage were much more likely to give birth to five or more children than those who were at least 19 years old at marriage. The same survey also revealed that visit by family planning staff did not have a significant impact on reducing fertility rates. Instead, women who watched family planning commercials on TV were much less likely to have very large families.

Being the sixth most populous nation in the world, Pakistanis are also exposed to disease, violence, and natural disasters, which increase the odds of losing children to accidents or disease. At the same time, many consider the use of contraceptives to be un-Islamic. In addition, the preference for a male offspring is also widespread. As a result, Pakistani parents are inclined to have several children. The immediate task for the governments in Pakistan is to ensure that the rate of decline in fertility rates observed over the past two decades continues. At the same time, the governments in Pakistan should learn from Bangladesh that has made significant progress in stemming the population tide.

Source: The World Bank (2013) – Graph generated by Murtaza Haider.
Source: The World Bank (2013) – Graph generated by Murtaza Haider.

Getting down to two children per family may seem an elusive target, however, Pakistanis have made huge dents in the alarmingly high fertility rates, despite the widespread opposition to family planning. Since 1988, the fertility rate in Pakistan has declined from 6.2 births per woman to 3.5 in 2009. In a country where the religious and other conservatives oppose all forms of family planning, a decline of 44 per cent in fertility rate is nothing short of a miracle.

A recent paper explores the impact of family planning programs in Pakistan. The paper uses data from the 2006-07 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, which interviewed 10, 023 ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years. The survey revealed that only 30 per cent women used contraceptives in Pakistan. Though the paper in its current draft has several shortcomings, yet it still offers several insights into what contributes to high fertility and what the effective strategies are to check high fertility rates in Pakistan.

The survey revealed that the use of contraceptives did not have any significant impact for women who had given birth to six or more children. While 24 per cent women who were not using any contraceptives reported six or more births, 37 per cent of those who used contraceptives reported six or more births. At the same time, 27 per cent of women who were not visited by the family planning staff reported six or more births compared with 22 per cent of women who had a visit with the family planning staff.

Meanwhile, demographic and socio-economic factors reported strong correlation with the fertility outcomes. Women who were at least 19 years old at marriage were much less likely to have four or more births than those who were younger at the time of marriage. Similarly, those who gave birth before they turned 19 were much more likely to have four or more births.

Education also reported strong correlation with fertility outcomes. Consider that 58 per cent of illiterate women reported four or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were highly educated. Similarly, 60 per cent of the women married to illiterate men reported four or more births compared to 39 per cent of the women married to highly educated men. The survey revealed that literacy among women mattered more for reducing fertility rates than literacy among their husbands.

The underlying variable that defines literacy and the prevalence of contraceptives in Pakistan is the economic status of the households. The survey revealed that 32 per cent of women from poor households reported six or more births compared to 21 per cent of those who were from affluent households.

The above results suggest that family planning efforts in Pakistan are likely to succeed if the focus is on educating young women. Educated young women are likely to get married later and will have fewer children. This is also supported by a comprehensive study by the World Bank in which Andaleeb Alam and others observed that cash transfer programs in Punjab to support female education resulted in a nine percentage point increase in female enrollment. At the same time, the authors found that those girls who participated in the program delayed their marriage and had fewer births by the time they turned 19.

“In fact, women in Punjab with middle and high school education have around 1.8 fewer children than those with lower than middle school education by the end of their reproductive life. Simple extrapolations also indicate that the 1.4 year delay in marriage of beneficiaries associated with the program could lead to 0.4 fewer births by the end of their childbearing years.”

The religious fundamentalists in Pakistan will continue to oppose family planning programs. They cannot, however, oppose the education of young women. The results presented here suggest that high fertility rates could be checked effectively by improving young women’s access to education. At the same time, educated mothers are the best resource for raising an educated nation.

General Qazi looted Pak Railway under Gen Musharraf

Updated 2013-08-31 07:06:04

ISLAMABAD: If a federal minister is to be believed he intends to send a retired army general and former railways minister behind bars for causing a severe haemorrhage of the institution.

Painting a bleak picture of the state of railways in the National Assembly on Friday, Khwaja Saad Rafique said the organisation had been bleeding profusely since 2000 at the hands of its managers and at present it was literally on a ‘life support system’.

He lashed out at retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi for triggering collapse of the Pakistan Railways in 2002 as its minister and said he was waiting for the appointment of a new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file cases against the general.

“We have done the homework and the moment a new NAB chairman, whose appointment is due, takes charge, we will bring all those, including Gen Qazi, to the dock for causing irrevocable losses to the organisation,” Mr Rafique said.

It may be mentioned here that Gen Qazi and a number of PR officials were accused of being involved in the controversial leasing of railways land in Lahore to a private company which built a golf. A special parliamentary committee of the previous National Assembly had recommended filing of criminal cases against people involved in the leasing of the land. According to the findings of the committee, the deal caused losses of over Rs25 billion.

“Until now many officials of the PR have served sentences for their part in its mismanagement, and some are serving, but so far none of the big guns has been held accountable,” Mr Rafique said, adding that time had come to bring them to book. “I will not spare anybody.”

The minister was replying to lawmakers’ questions about how soon the government would be able to bring some improvement in the operations of the railways which over the years had severely deteriorated.

“At the moment the entire fleet the PR locomotives have completed their shelf lives and one can well imagine how trains are being managed,” he said.

The PR is running 96 passenger trains in the country and at least during the current financial year the government can’t afford to start any new train due to shortage of engines.

About a deal for importing 75 locomotives from China signed by the PPP government, the minister said not only had the contract been cancelled but the Chinese company had also been blacklisted.

“It was the same company which provided 69 faulty engines in 2002. Notwithstanding the Chinese government’s pressure, I have also through the Foreign Office filed a claim of Rs2.5bn against the company.”

Sharing details of how the PR had suffered because of sheer ineptitude of its former bosses, Mr Rafique said: “I got the shock of my life when I was told that the director general (legal) of the PR is not a law graduate.”

He said the ministry was hiring a former high court judge as director of legal affairs to retrieve its land from illegal occupants.

He said the railways had suffered a loss of Rs32bn in 2012-13, which he hoped would be curtailed because he had recently managed to put about 10 redundant locomotives back on the tracks after maintenance. The PR also has to repay loans of Rs71bn.

The minister said in a written answer that the railways owned 167,690 acres of land which, if put to use, could be of great help in ending its losses.

Gen (r) Ziauddin Butt

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

‘Sacked’ army chief moves court against removal

* LHC issues notice to Defence Ministry on Gen (r) Zia’s petition, seeking directions to declare his removal illegal

* Wants issuance of retirement benefits and release of all confiscated property

Staff Report

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Defence Ministry on a petition of former chief of army staff Gen (r) Ziauddin Butt, who sought declaration of his removal as COAS as illegal, issuance of his retirement benefits and release of all his confiscated property by the regime of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The court directed the defence minister to file a reply to the petition by October 16. It also sought the assistance of a deputy attorney general to determine whether after 15 years of the event this petition could be heard or whether this court could take cognisance against the army. The petitioner’s counsel submitted that on October 12, 1999, Butt was appointed as COAS by then president Muhammad Rafique Tarar on the recommendation of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

He alleged that soon after his appointment in the Prime Minister’s House, the prime minister and the petitioner were surrounded by heavily armed troops of the 111 Brigade of the army in implementation of a conspiracy. He alleged that Lt Gen (r) Mehmud Ahmed and Major General Ali Jan Aurakzai threatened them at gunpoint to step down, but Nawaz Sharif refused to do so, after which they were taken into custody. He said that the petitioner was placed into solitary confinement, which lasted two years.

The counsel submitted that during the confinement the petitioner suffered many sufferings, including dismissal from service, forcible seizure of his properties, including those in private ownership, deprivation of right to receive pension. He said that all this was done to the petitioner for obedience of constitutional order passed by the then president, who appointed him to the constitutional post COAS. He alleged that Musharraf subjected the petitioner to all possible punishments in utter violation of the fundamental rights, without issuing a show-cause notice.


Healthy Profits – What are they ?

Where to Now?

Broadcast: 14/09/2013 9:19:53 PM

Reporter: Fiona Breen
Simplot – Birdseye brand vegetable processor – SAME LOGIC WORKS for ELECTRICITY – Even River Produced Electricity is NOT FREE.

Review to two factories was not good. As USA owners were telling TERRY O’Brien
turn the factories around or close them.

TERRY O’BRIEN, SIMPLOT AUSTRALIA:  “… They’re quite patient investors. They’ve put a lot of money into Australia over the 18-odd years that they’ve owned it. They really enjoy having the business down here and they haven’t been as demanding for returns that perhaps a public company would be. Being private, they have their own longer-term agenda, but at the same time clearly they have to get a return that makes some sense and mostly they need a return that allows them to reinvest and keep all of our assets and factories and everything up to standard…”

See Below for full transcript ::

Australia’s vegetable industry is in crisis with the nation’s last two frozen vegetable processing factories still under threat of closure. Imported frozen vegetables are taking the place of locally-grown products in supermarket trolleys and business is suffering.

Simplot’s future in Australia depends on what the new Coalition Government does to help keep the industry alive. More than 500 factory workers and 150 farmers are waiting on a decision and Simplot has promised to get back to them by the end of this month.

Fiona Breen travelled to Bathurst in NSW and to Devonport in Tasmania to talk to those fighting to keep Australia’s food manufacturing industry alive.

FIONA BREEN, REPORTER: This small group is a rare breed. Part of a declining number of farmers growing Australia’s vegetables. Today, onions are being planted in the rich, red clay soil of Tasmania’s northwest. It’s a miracle this planting is happening at all. These farmers have been distracted.

ROBBIE TOLE, DEVONPORT GROWER: We came together probably as a request from Simplot to help put a proposal together to help them remain viable and also for us to remain viable and we’ve had a good mix of growers on the group from north of Tassie down through the northeast down here, so we’re covering a wide range of areas and crops. So it’s been really positive.

FIONA BREEN: They’ve spent more time in meeting rooms than they have in the fields, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone to work up a strategy to secure their farming future.

STEWART MCGEE, DEVONPORT GROWER: We’ve presented to the Greens, Liberal, Labor, to the Department of Economic Development, the University Centre of Food Innovation, which is a new, relatively new thing. I think they will be very helpful to us. Enterprise Connect, very widely with our State and Federal politicians.

FIONA BREEN: The farmers flew into action in June when Simplot Australia’s chief, Terry O’Brien, announced its two big frozen vegetable factories in Bathurst NSW and in Devonport, Tasmania, could be closed. A combination of a high Australian dollar, soaring production costs and cheap imports flooding the local market was hurting the bottom line.

The dollar had opened Australia’s door to global suppliers, but shut the door on Simplot’s exporting arm. A review of the two factories wasn’t good and the American owners were telling Terry O’Brien to turn the factories around or close them.

TERRY O’BRIEN, SIMPLOT AUSTRALIA: They’re quite patient investors. They’ve put a lot of money into Australia over the 18-odd years that they’ve owned it. They really enjoy having the business down here and they haven’t been as demanding for returns that perhaps a public company would be. Being private, they have their own longer-term agenda, but at the same time clearly they have to get a return that makes some sense and mostly they need a return that allows them to reinvest and keep all of our assets and factories and everything up to standard.

FIONA BREEN: Other multinational vegetable processers have already pulled out of Australia.

TERRY O’BRIEN: One of its biggest competitors, McCain’s, closed its Tasmanian operation in 2009 and set up a factory in New Zealand. Hundreds of jobs were lost. Millions of dollars left the local economy. Heinz also shifted its vegetable processing to New Zealand. At this point in time you’re talking across just about every input, probably 30 to 40 per cent more expensive in Australia than in New Zealand.

Now, clearly they have some limit to their production capability. They probably couldn’t service the whole of Australia, so ultimately there’s still a place for Australian manufacturing against them. But we really have to strive to find a way to be competitive on a parity basis with New Zealand and I think they’re the main competitor for us in the vegetable business.

FIONA BREEN: Since June, Terry O’Brien has been on his own campaign trail, criss-crossing the country to rally support to keep Simplot’s vegetable factories open. He urged the Tasmanian farmers to get organised.

TERRY O’BRIEN: We’ve had a heck of a lot going on and, I mean, I can’t get the smile off my face because I’m so surprised at the reaction we’ve had and it’s been so positive. So I suppose all I’m saying is if three quarters of what we’ve got floating around in the air at the moment came true, we’ll probably go on and we’ll be OK, and we’ll commit to staying in that plant for some time.

If we can’t get all the main inputs over the line, then it probably won’t.

(Fiona Breen in a Chiko packaging factory)

FIONA BREEN: Simplot’s campaign to keep its factories open has highlighted the potential loss of Aussie brands like Bird’s Eye and Edgell, but it’s the threat to another Simplot Aussie brand that has captured people’s attention, and it’s this – the humble Chiko roll. In its heyday, the factory here in Bathurst was making 40 million Chiko rolls a year. The numbers have dropped to 10 million but it’s still a fish and chip shop staple.

The campaign by Simplot and its farmers gained some early traction with a couple of wins, but they proved to be hollow.

(Kevin Rudd meeting farmers)

KEVIN RUDD, EX-PRIME MINISTER: What do you grow, mate?

FARMER: Peas, potatoes.

KEVIN RUDD: OK, OK, that’s good.

FIONA BREEN: An 11th hour pre-election promise from Kevin Rudd for $10 million for farmers, and an $18 million pledge from Kim Carr to upgrade the factories.

(3 September 2013 Kevin Rudd interview)

KEVIN RUDD: We believe in investing in, and co-investing with good companies like Simplot because farmers have been supplying companies like this since the Second World War, it’s a good business and we want to see the agricultural services industry grow, and grow, and grow.

FIONA BREEN: The new Liberal Government, however, was more cautious during the pre-election circus. Tony Abbott flew into Tasmania’s north a couple of times but refused to be drawn on a deal to save Simplot.

(3 September 2013, Tony Abbott interview)

TONT ABBOTT, LIBERAL LEADER: Should we form a government after Saturday, I’m very happy to sit down with Simplot. I accept that they are a very important local employer; I accept that they are very important for the future of the agricultural sector of northern Tasmania, the vegetable industry of northern Tasmania, I absolutely accept that, but the time to talk with them is calmly, rationally, after an election, not to engage in some kind of pre-election auction.

FIONA BREEN: It’s not just the new government that Terry O’Brien is waiting on.

He’s hoping workers will be prepared to sacrifice to keep the company in Australia. Terry O’Brien is counting on a Holden-type deal with factory workers, to freeze wages and create more flexible conditions.

(Fiona Breen standing outside a Simplot factory in Bathurst)

In the heat of the season when the factories here in Bathurst and in Devonport are running six or even seven days a week, Simplot says it’s paying its factory workers about $50 per hour. Its competitors in New Zealand are paying about $20 an hour.

TERRY O’BRIEN: With our labour laws to run businesses around the clock, which you have to do for short periods of the time, that does bring with it quite high penalty rates, etc.

So the unit cost of labour when you compress it into a short part of the year is a lot higher than it would be if we had it spread throughout the year, like you can in some places.

(Terry O’Brien in factory talking to workers)

Don’t you miss any of them, will you? We get complaints when they’re not in there.

FIONA BREEN: Terry O’Brien has been up-front with Simplot’s 200-strong Bathurst work force. Without major change, the factory might not make it far past the next corn harvest, due in April next year.

TERRY O’BRIEN: It’s the harder part, for sure, and it’s got alternatives offshore.

Like we could go to Thailand as well and we could go to Italy, and there’s actually a big prize for us to do that and that’s what, you know, really putting the question mark over Bathurst because there are alternatives.

FIONA BREEN: Have you been seriously thinking about it?

TERRY O’BRIEN: Absolutely. And we’ve actually worked out what the price is if we do that. But the bottom line is, as I said before, our preference is to stay in Australia and have Australian product, so our preference is to get the competitiveness of our plant close enough that we can survive rather than just cut and run.

FIONA BREEN: Devonport employs 300 people. Both factories employ generations of the same families. Many have been with Simplot for 20 years or more. Both regions also have high unemployment rates and many workers would have trouble securing new jobs.

JENNIFER DOWELL, AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING WORKERS UNION: Obviously they’re under a lot of stress. I think particularly at Bathurst, it’s really difficult for them because the threat of closure is more imminent for the plant at Bathurst. They were told that they may not have another corn season after this one, and this one finishes in about April of next year.

So they’re really stressed and it’s terrible for them having to come to work under such uncertainty.

FIONA BREEN: Jennifer Dowell from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union is also criss-crossing the country, visiting both Simplot work sites to talk to factory employees. She says any changes must be negotiated through the new enterprise agreement, which is due for renewal in February.

And while the union is prepared to start negotiating early, there’s little that can be fast tracked.

JENNIFER DOWELL: The issue is that at the end of the day it will be a difficult thing to try and negotiate. We have got a national agreement which covers five plants. We have spoken to workers in the plant and really before we can come to a landing on any position with respect to wage increases, we’re looking at getting a whole lot more financial information from the company and more information about what their plans for the future are, because you know, I really have a problem in talking to company about wage increases or non-wage increases with the threat of closures hanging over workers’ heads for months at a time.

FIONA BREEN: There’s pressure for Terry O’Brien to secure his deals with workers and with Government sooner rather than later. He’s due to travel to Idaho in the United States later this month to present his decision on the future of the two Australian factories. It’s now a waiting game for everyone, farmers and factory workers.

But it’s particularly difficult for people in Bathurst. The Bathurst factory, first built by the Edgell family in the 1920s, is most under threat.

TERRY O’BRIEN: Bathurst is the hardest plant to make sense of, because it’s got a very big footprint here and a lot of different products, and so ultimately we may not get Bathurst right up to the best outcome that we’d like. But provided we can get Devonport and Bathurst together to make sense for us as a category, a vegetable category, then most likely we would continue with both plants.

FIONA BREEN: The Bathurst factory manufactures 30,000 tonnes each year, including 20,000 tonnes of canned vegetables and 10,000 tonnes of frozen vegetables. 12 months ago, the company put in new robotics to pack and wrap the pallets of cans.

(Terry O’Brien talking to a worker)

TERRY O’BRIEN: And what about the big robot here, the palletiser, that’s going alright?

SIMPLOT WORKER: Yes, we had some issues with cogs breaking there, but overall we’ve now got over the issue of where the cogs are breaking. It’s come good.

TERRY O’BRIEN: You sometimes wonder how these plants ran before without these robots.

SIMPLOT WORKER: Yes, it’s doing a lot of labour.

TERRY O’BRIEN: A lot of backbreaking labour.



FIONA BREEN: Canning was the more profitable line, achieving better margins than frozen. But as imports fill the local supermarket shelves, prices and demand has dropped for canned vegetables.

Corn has become one of the cheapest canned products on the supermarket shelves and that’s not good for Simplot.

FIONA BREEN: The competitor, for example, on canned corn, is Thailand where they run two seasons of growing corn every year, so they have a lot more, a lot flatter production year than we do and of course their labour rates are a little different to Australia.

But in the main, you know, they do such huge scale out of Thailand that they can get a can of corn into the Australian market sort of almost equal to our cost.

FIONA BREEN: Each factory has its own particular set of rising utility costs. The Bathurst factory is struggling with a sharp rise in the cost of electricity.

Here in Devonport, the annual water bill has gone up more than 300 per cent to over $2 million.

Each plant uses a lot of water. In Devonport, water flows through just about every part of the factory, but none more so than the washing line, where machines work hard to get the thick, red clay soil off a load of carrots.

TERRY O’BRIEN: Our current annual bill’s around $800,000 and now they’re threatening 2.8.

FIONA BREEN: Per year?

TERRY O’BRIEN: Per year. And I can tell you have to sell a lot of green peas to make that $2 million.

FIONA BREEN: Both plants also use a lot of electricity. Each step of the freezing process takes a lot of energy. Power in NSW has gone up by more than 200 per cent.

As the threat of closure hangs over the two factories the supermarkets are still stocking their shelves and freezers. Vegetables from Thailand, China, New Zealand, and the Netherlands sit beside the local products. They look similar and they’re often cheaper.

SHOPPER 1: I suppose I just see what’s on special and what I need I just grab and off I go. Yes, I sort of don’t take time to read everything and get what I want.

SHOPPER 2: Price, more than anything. I mean, every penny counts at the moment so you’ve got to look for price more than anything.

FIONA BREEN: Many shoppers rushing in and out of the supermarket are unaware of the long-term effects of their decisions. Surveys suggesting shoppers want to buy Australian are not always reflected at the checkout.

SHOPPER 3: When I sort through the racks we see New Zealand products and other products packed here and supplied there and, yes, it’s a bit disappointing.

FIONA BREEN: It frustrates farmers.

Bathurst grower Jeff McSpedden has had to cut costs each year. He wants consumers to think more about what they’re buying.

JEFF MCSPEDDEN, BATHURST GROWER: People don’t realise that if processing goes offshore you will have to buy imported, and then depending on the dollar, if our dollar goes down there will be a real spike in food price.

FIONA BREEN: Jeff McSpedden is in a holding pattern. He’s grown corn for Simplot for 45 years. Each year his farm produces about 2,000 tonne of corn. After June’s announcement he’s had a rethink.

[Talking to Jeff McSpedden] Have you been holding off on buying any new equipment or getting ready for plantings because of this uncertainty surrounding Simplot?

JEFF MCSPEDDEN: It is. We made a decision when they made the announcement to actually run more sheep. So this year we’ve kept all our female sheep to actually increase our sheep numbers.

FIONA BREEN: Either way, a decision to close would see the McSpeddens and the handful of farmers in the Bathurst area take a big hit.

JEFF MCSPEDDEN: We don’t have a processing industry in this country and I can find someone with enough money, and that may even be in China or Asia in the Asian century, I would sell it to them and Australians will have to eat the cheaper imported product. And that’s not good for Australia because, you know, fresh fruit and vegetables is the answer to health.

FIONA BREEN: In Tasmania, farmers have been shaken into action. Simplot has asked them to cut costs and to try and get help to do that. It’s one of the first times the company and Tasmanian farmers have really come together. In the past, they’ve been at loggerheads over prices.

ROBBIE TOLE: I think times have changed and we needed to change and Simplot needed to change, and I would give them a lot of credit for the way they have now engaged growers, and I think we need to work together. I don’t think we can be fighting each other anymore. If we want to continue farming and be involved in agriculture I think we need to, as farmers, need to be involved further up the line, the line processing line.

FIONA BREEN: Their future will rely on some hefty government support to upgrade technology and equipment.

ANDREW CRAIGIE, DEVONPORT GROWER: There’s a pivot irrigator behind us. Now as that comes around onto different soil types they require different amounts of water, variable rate watering.

That technology also goes to fertiliser. Technologies within spraying where it’s not a blanket spray; it’s a targeted spray for crops. Anything that can reduce our input costs and actually give us a better yield are the things we really want to focus on.

FIONA BREEN: Food scientist Hazel MacTavish-West analyses the flavour and goodness of vegetables for businesses trying to better market their produce.

She’s worried that if Australia loses Simplot, farmers will leave the vegetable growing industry and the nation will lose the ability to feed itself.

DR HAZEL MACTAVISH-WEST, FOOD SCIENTIST: History tells us that in the past countries have gone to war and if they didn’t have a local home supply of food, they didn’t have that food. And I’d just be really nervous that such an important part of our diet in terms of nutrients and bulk, then had to come from other countries.

FIONA BREEN: Dr MacTavish-West has been commissioned by Horticulture Australia to come up with a database of health benefits vegetable producers can use to market and package their products. She’s analysed the vitamin levels in frozen vegetables and says 95 per cent of the vitamins remain during the freezing process. She’s worried that Australians don’t realise what’s at risk.

DR HAZEL MACTAVISH-WEST: We will not have the option of frozen Australian vegetables. We will have to buy imported produce. Imported produce by definition doesn’t make it bad, it just isn’t Australian and it isn’t supporting our very valuable horticultural industry.

FIONA BREEN: In the end, however, much of it will come back to the customer.

SHOPPER 4: Majority of times with all my canned goods and that, and everything else, I try to buy Australian. Goodness, they’re Chinese. So yes, so much for me buying Australian.

Female Afghan Police Commander Is Shot

September 15, 2013

Female Afghan Police Commander Is Shot


KABUL, Afghanistan — An outspoken female police commander in southern Helmand Province was shot and wounded by two gunmen on Sunday, the third such attack on a female officer since July, the authorities said.

The commander, identified as Second Lt. Nigara, was shot in the neck and was in critical condition at a hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. The regional medical director, Enayatullah Ghafari, said initial indications were that she had been paralyzed.

Lieutenant Nigara, who goes by only one name, had just walked out of her home when two gunmen on a motorcycle shot her from behind. No one has claimed responsibility, but the authorities blamed drug traffickers or Taliban insurgents.

In the two previous attacks, the policewomen were killed. All three episodes involved unknown gunmen who attacked during daylight hours in the provincial capital. There are 30 female officers still in the province.

“The policewomen were active and discovered drugs and foiled terrorists’ plots, and that’s why they are on the top of their targeting lists,” said Ahmad Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

In an interview this month, Lieutenant Nigara said she was undeterred by the deaths of her two colleagues. She told of living with constant death threats and in near poverty after her brother, also a police officer, was shot and paralyzed. She had been caring for him and his four children, in addition to doing her job.

“I’m living in a ramshackle house, and whenever I come back there from duty, I smile to my husband that I am alive,” she said.

She added: “I love this job, and I see my countrymen in trouble and the country in a critical situation, and I feel women’s role is important in policing.”

Lieutenant Nigara originally joined the force during the Communist era in the early 1990s, and she returned after the fall of the Taliban.

She recounted how in 2006 she stopped a would-be suicide bomber, who was wearing an explosive vest, by throwing her arms around him in a bearhug. She apprehended insurgents and drug smugglers several times, even though they were disguised in burqas. And she said she once climbed onto a rooftop to capture an insurgent sniper.

“I am receiving threats on a daily basis,” she said. “The smugglers and terrorists are threatening me, saying I should give up, but I tell them that I am an Afghan woman, and I won’t leave the job as long as there is blood in my veins.”

Mr. Zwak, the provincial spokesman, said the latest attack would not deter the other female officers. “We have a lot of courageous women in the police, and they won’t give up,” he said.

But a police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject, worried that the shooting of Lieutenant Nigara would serve as a deterrent. “She was the one encouraging female staff to continue working,” he said. “The policewomen were all terrified when the two policewomen were killed.”

In July, Third Lt. Islam Bibi, who was in charge of the female recruiting department for the Helmand police and was a seven-year veteran of the force, was fatally shot in the back while on a motorcycle with a male relative. She left a husband and seven children. Also in July, Sgt. Shah Bibi, a six-year veteran of the force whose husband, also a police officer, was killed earlier, was shot while shopping in the bazaar. She left four children.

“These recent assassinations really have had a negative impact on how the policewomen feel,” Lieutenant Nigara said in the interview earlier this month. “I am giving them courage and boosting their morale.”

She added: “They are really courageous women. None quit their jobs, and I am sure none will, even if things become even worse.”

Alissa J. Rubin contributed reporting from Paris.

“Father of Taliban” says Taliban will make Afghans happy

“Father of Taliban” says Taliban will make Afghans happy

Published 2013-09-15 16:21:29

AKORA KHATTAK: He is known as the Father of the Taliban, a radical Pakistani cleric who calls the Taliban’s one-eyed leader an “angel” and runs a seminary described as the University of Jihad.

Bespectacled and soft-spoken, Maulana Sami ul-Haq is a revered figure in Pakistan and Afghanistan whose views carry enormous weight among the Taliban on both sides of the border.

Tucked away in a dusty Pakistani town off the main motorway to the Afghan border, his Darul Uloom Haqqania university was the launching pad for the Taliban movement in the 1990s.

Speaking at the sprawling campus near his native town of Akora Khattak, Haq did little to hide his sympathies for the Taliban, a word meaning “students” in Pashto. He said he was sure the Taliban would soon sweep back to power in Afghanistan.

“Give them just one year and they will make the whole of Afghanistan happy,” Haq predicted. “The whole of Afghanistan will be with them … Once the Americans leave, all of this will happen within a year.”

Haq’s seminary is recognised officially in Pakistan – a symptom of Islamabad’s long-running duality over the Taliban issue.

Though Haq would not talk about this publicly he is believed to be close to the Pakistani security forces – a legacy of an era when Pakistan sponsored movements and supported militants, including Osama bin Laden, fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

Kabul’s government has long accused Pakistan of playing a double game and harbouring militants on its soil while publicly condemning extremism – a charge Islamabad fiercely denies.

Back in the 1980s, many young Darul Uloom Haqqania graduates swapped books for guns and drove west along the highway running just outside its iron gates towards Afghanistan, where they joined mujahideen groups to fight against the Russians.

One of them, Mullah Mohammed Omar, later took advantage of the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 to found the Taliban movement – a period often recalled with nervousness ahead of next year’s drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan.

Haq’s face brightened as he recalled Omar, one of his bests students, but laughed when asked about his whereabouts.

“He is a devout Muslim, very virtuous. He is hospitable. He is a very simple man, with no princely tastes,” Haq said, alternating between Pakistan’s official Urdu and his native Pashto language.  “He is very intelligent. He understands politics and is wise to the tricks of outsiders.”

Haq added with conviction: “He is no aggressor. He is an angel-like human being.”


The seminary, founded in 1947, is now one of biggest and most respected Islamic institutions in South Asia.

Fenced off from the hustle and bustle of the outside world by high walls and barbed wire, it houses 4,000 male students in its multi-storey concrete buildings.  Haq says he and his seminary have nothing to do with terrorism.

He has even offered to mediate between the United States and militants in order to bring peace to Afghanistan.

Haq, who speaks fluent Arabic, said the US ambassador to Pakistan visited him in July to discuss the situation in the region but added that peace was not possible as long as foreign troops were still in Afghanistan.

“As long as they are there, Afghans will have to fight for their freedom,” Haq said. “It’s a war for freedom. It will not stop until outsiders leave.”

The Taliban were initially popular among Afghans after years of Soviet brutality and the ensuing anarchy of feuding warlords.

However, that quickly changed after they seized power and enforced puritanical restrictions on all spheres of people’s lives.

After years of war there are hopes that the Taliban might be coaxed to the negotiating table or even turned into a political movement with the help of influential mediators such as Haq.

But would the Taliban still listen to him?

“They are my students. In our tradition, a teacher is like a father, like a spiritual leader,” Haq said. “Afghans should be allowed to fight for their freedom. Foreign powers should get out and let them do what they want.”

Cowardly acts by terrorists cannot deter the morale of our armed forces

PM condoles, TTP claims responsibility for killing of Major General in KP

Updated 2013-09-15 17:39:52

PESHAWAR: A roadside bomb attack on Sunday killed Pakistan’s two senior military officers and a soldier in the country’s troubled northwest, the military said.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have accepted responsibility for the attack, which was confirmed by TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid in a statement.

Major General Sanaullah Niazi and Lieutenant Colonel Touseef were visiting troop posts in the Upper Dir district of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, along the Afghan border, when their vehicle hit a planted bomb killing them along with a soldier.

“Maj Gen Sanaullah and Lt Col Touseef embraced Shahadat (martyrdom) this morning. They were returning after visiting troops posts on Pak Afghan Border,” the military said in a statement, adding that the incident resulted from an IED planted on the road near the border.

“Sepoy Imran also embraced Shahadat (martyrdom), two soldiers injured in the blast have been evacuated,” it added.

“Pakistan army has made substantial sacrifices to protect the nation against the menace of terrorism and such cowardly acts by terrorists cannot deter the morale of our armed forces,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had announced on Saturday that withdrawal of troops from Malakand division would begin next month and the civil administration would take over control of the area.

The announcement came at a time when the federal government is preparing to launch peace talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the light of decisions of an all-party conference.

Separately, two roadside bomb attacks in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, killed two soldiers on Sunday and wounded four others, security officials said.

In the neighbouring district of Bannu, Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of tribal police early Sunday, killing two of them and wounding four others, the officials said.

Pakistan says more than 40,000 people have been killed as a result of bomb and suicide attacks carried out by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-led militants who oppose Islamabad’s US alliance.

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world.

Published 2013-09-04 21:57:05

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund’s board on Wednesday approved a $6.7 billion loan package for Pakistan to help the nation revive its ailing economy.

In a statement, the IMF said the three-year program should help Pakistan rebuild its reserves and prevent a crisis in the balance of payments.

IMF loans generally come with conditions for economic reform and should encourage other donors to step in with more funds.

Top finance ministry officials in Pakistan announced the Fund’s approval of a package in August, pending the board’s decision and Pakistan’s progress on fiscal reforms.

The new loan will arrive just in time. As of August, the central bank had only about $5 billion left in foreign currency reserves, enough to cover less than five weeks of imports.

The Asian Development Bank, one of Pakistan’s major lenders, estimates that Pakistan needs $6 billion to $9 billion to meet its obligations, including about $5 billion in outstanding debt on an earlier $11 billion IMF loan package.

Pakistan averted a balance of payments crisis in 2008 by securing the $11 billion IMF loan. This was suspended two years ago after economic and reform targets were missed.

This time around, the government had to fulfill certain conditions set by the IMF before the loan could be approved, including slashing costly subsidies on electricity and sending out notices to 10,000 delinquent taxpayers.

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. The IMF wants it to do more to tackle rampant tax evasion by the wealthy elite.

Pakistan gets $540 million immediately, and the rest will be disbursed after regular reviews of the program, the Fund said.



Imran Khan says – “repeated price hikes continue to burden the ordinary citizens”

Syrian conflict: implications for Pakistan’s economy

By Usman Shah Thursday, September 05, 2013

While the Congress votes today (Thursday) on the possibility of the military strikes on Syria, speculation has already dented the economy of Pakistan.

“No matter how the story unfolds in the Middle East, the fallout is largely negative for the global economy,” an official at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stated.

Global oil price shot up to $115 per barrel when the supply from the Middle East contracted as Libya’s rebel guards are on a strike and blocked the main export terminal bringing the exports down and production below 150,000 barrels per day from 250,000 barrels per day from the country. Amid chaos in the Middle East and uncertainty regarding the military strikes and the UN sanctions on Iran and Syria, the oil supply has contracted considerably causing global oil price to shoot up.

“The recent hike in oil prices is mainly due to the political instability and anxiety about the war in the Middle East,” the SBP official said while talking to Daily Times.

A short while ago, the government of Pakistan had transferred the increase in the oil price to the general public. This was the third increase in oil price since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led government took over the helm of affairs. The government came under severe criticism from the opposition parties and they termed it as an ‘anti-public step’. Imran Khan criticised the government stating that such repeated price hikes continue to burden the ordinary citizens while most of the rich continue to evade their responsibility of paying taxes.

“The unsteady rupee and elevated global oil price will further put pressure on the government to increase fuel prices,” the sources said.

“The escalation of oil price will have a negative impact on the economy overall. The impact is inflationary as it will enhance the import bill, widening the fiscal deficit,” an analyst said.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the rupee is constantly depreciating which is creating economic difficulties for Pakistan. In the month of August, the dollar increased by 2.56 percent to Rs 104.50 for buying against the local currency in the interbank market and 1.55 percent to Rs 104.60 for buying in the open market which is a wakeup call for the dignitaries who are at the helm of affairs.

Since the news of the possible military strike against Syria has erupted, the dollar continued to set new highs against the rupee from the start of September and it has already achieved Rs 105 mark in the open market.

Critics have also shown their concern on the massive government borrowing during the first 100 days of the government and termed it disastrous for the economy.

“Superfluous government borrowing from the SBP has brought the PML-N led government under severe criticism. The government has borrowed a record Rs 594 billion from the central bank during the first 45 days of fiscal year 2013-14, which is highly inflationary. This has added to the steep devaluation of the rupee,” an analyst said.

Recently, the government reimbursed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) an amount of $393 million as part of loan facility repayment. However, the government has to payback IMF an amount of $4.4 billion out of which $3.3 billion is due in FY14 due to which the local currency is under constant pressure.

With 8.0 percent tax-to-gross domestic product ratio, lack of foreign direct investment, poor growth rate, increasing inflation and expanding fiscal deficit, market pundits anticipate the rupee freefall to continue and will hit Rs 110 mark in coming months in both the markets.

The Syrian conflict has also hampered the sentiments of the people of Pakistan as they don’t want to witness another tragedy similar to Iraq and Afghanistan in an already effected Syria. The public backlash against the west’s Syria policy has the potential to enrage Pakistanis; resulting in vandalising public property and bringing the economy of Pakistan to a standstill.

However, the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility loan package is expected to approved on Wednesday after the board meeting which will create pathway for dollar inflows.

“It is believed that the next loan from IMF will be soon in September. This would result in the dollar influx and will give the government breathing space to combat the economic difficulties and will also help the country to recover from the loss caused by speculation over Syrian conflict,” the SBP official expressed.

Showing concern over reducing foreign reserves, he said, “The temporary ban on the gold import was not helpful to prevent rupee devaluation. However, the government has decided to facilitate jewellery exporters with duty-free imported gold on the condition that the gold is re-exported after conversion of the gold into jewellery. This would help us increase the foreign currency reserves and curb the current account deficit.”




Saudi Special Forces arrested one of the most wanted extremist leaders, Abu Jarara Al-Yemeni, from a hotel located in one of Pakistan’s most popular vacation spots in Murree

Most wanted terrorist captured from hotel in Pakistan
Nadeem F. Paracha DAWN
Updated 2013-09-04 13:49:40

ISLAMABAD: In a daring raid, Saudi Special Forces arrested one of the most wanted extremist leaders, Abu Jarara Al-Yemeni, from a hotel located in one of Pakistan’s most popular vacation spots in Murree.

The news spread like wildfire and people were seen cursing the Pakistani government for allowing the Americans to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty, again.

However, when it became clear that the raid was not conducted by the Americans but by the Saudis, the frowns turned into smiles and many were heard saying, ‘Jazzakallah!’

Only minutes after the raid, Pakistan’s Prime Minister appeared on state-owned television and congratulated the nation and thanked the Saudi regime for helping Pakistan in its war against terror.

Interestingly, religious parties like Jamaat-i-Islami, (JI) Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and some banned sectarian organisations, that had originally called a joint press conference to condemn the raid, changed their stance half-way through the conference when told that the raid was by Saudi forces and not the Americans.

JI chief was first heard lambasting Pakistan’s civilian government for letting the country’s sovereignty be violated by the Americans, but after a reporter confirmed that the raid was executed by Saudi forces, the JI chief turned towards the JUI chief and embraced him.

‘Mahshallah!’ he exclaimed. “Today is a glorious day for our Islamic republic!”

JI and JUI chiefs had earlier questioned the real identity of the man arrested from the hotel, saying that even if it was Jarara, we should be ashamed because he was a freedom fighter, conducting a liberation war against the Americans.

However, after it became clear that the arrest was made by Saudi forces, both the men then claimed that Jarara was no friend of Pakistan and that he was not even a Muslim.

In a joint statement, JI, JUI and the sectarian organisations congratulated the nation and said that they had been saying all along that the extremists were Pakistan’s greatest enemies and should be exterminated.

The statement also said that the JI and JUI (along with PTI) will continue to hold sit-ins against American drones, which were parachuting evil men like Jarara into Pakistan and violating the sovereignty of the country. For this, the statement suggested, that Ahmad Shah Abdali should be invited to invade Pakistan and defeat the Americans.

When told that Abdali died almost two hundred years ago, the religious leaders termed this to be nothing more than western propaganda.

PTI members at the conference added that Pakistan’s most prominent revolutionary and youngest nuclear physicists, Zohair Toru, was building anti-drone missiles.

Toru, who was also present at the conference, confirmed this while licking a lemon-flavored Popsicle. He said it was a very hot day and popsicles helped him concentrate.

However, soon things took another twist when sources suggested that the Saudis captured Jarara and handed him over to the Americans.

The Americans – who had accused Jarara for committing crimes against humanity – actually plan to use him to lead a revolt against the Syrian government that the Americans accuse of committing crimes against humanity.

After this, the chiefs of JUI, JI and the sectarian parties again changed their stance. In another joint statement, they said Jarara indeed was a great Muslim warrior. They then embraced each other and distributed Saudi dates among the gathered media personnel and asked them to pray for Jarar’s success against the evil Syrian government.

But when asked what they thought about Jarar working with the Americans and vice versa, they said they cannot answer this question because it was time for the afternoon prayers.

When asked whether they will answer the question after the prayers they said by then it will be time for the evening prayers.

When asked if they would be willing to give an answer after the evening prayers, they said by then all of them would be on their way to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.

Religious party leaders after being told Jarar will be used by Saudi Arabia and US in the war against Syria.

The raid

A military spokesman also held a press conference to give the media a briefing on the details of the raid.

He said the raid was executed by Saudi Special Forces who came on four helicopters from Saudi military bases in Raiwind.

The helicopters then landed on the Margala Hills in Islamabad. On the lush hills, Saudi soldiers disembarked from the copters, got on camels and rode all the way to Murree in broad daylight.

They were twice stopped at checkpoints by the Pakistani police but were allowed to cross when some Saudi soldiers promised the cops jobs in Saudi Arabia and year’s supply of Zamzam water.

An eyewitness claims the cops smiled and waved to the departing camels, cheering ‘marhaba, marhaba.’

The camel army reached the in Murree at 11:00 am and right away rode their way into the sprawling premises.

The camels were also carrying rocket launchers, sub-machine guns, pistols, grenades and popcorn, all concealed in large ‘Dubai Duty Free’ shopping bags.

The military spokesman added that although the Pakistan Army had no clue about the raid, there were a dozen or so Pakistani security personnel present at the hotel.

When asked whether these men questioned the camel riders, the spokesman said that they did see them enter the hotel but were at the time busy interrogating a 77-year-old Caucasian male whom they had arrested for smoking in a non-smoking area.

“After the Abbottabad incident, we are keeping a firm eye on Europeans and Americans,” the spokesman said.

Even though the white man turned out to be an old Polish tourist, the spokesman praised the security men’s vigilance. “Our country’s sovereignty is sacred,” he added. “And, of course, smoking is bad for health.”

According to the Pakistan’s security agencies, the Saudis then rode their camels into one of the hotel’s kitchens and fired teargas shells.

This way they smoked out the chefs, cooks and other kitchen staff out into the open. From these, a Saudi commander got hold of a fat, hairy chef with an untidy beard.

The Saudi commander looked at the chef and compared his face with a photograph he was carrying. He asked: ‘Al-Jarara?’ To which the chef was reported to have said: “No, al-chicken jalfrezi. Also make very tasty mutton kebabs.”

The commander then asked, ‘Al-Yemeni?’, to which the chef said, ‘Yes make Yamani tikka too. You want?’

A reporter asked the military spokesman whether the Pakistani security men present at the hotel witnessed the operation. The spokesman answered in the affirmative but said they didn’t take any action after confirming that Pakistan’s sovereignty was not being violated.

The reporter then asked how the security men determined that Pakistan’s sovereignty was not being violated. Answering this, the spokesman said that since the camel riders were speaking Arabic there was thus no reason for the security men to charge them for violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.

This statement made the media personnel at the press conference very happy and they began applauding and raising emotional slogans praising Pakistan, Ziaul Haq and palm trees.

Soon after the announcement that Al-Jarara was arrested by Saudi forces, the country’s private TV channels became animated. One famous TV talk-show host actually decided to host his show in a Bedouin tent. And instead of a chair, he sat on a camel.

Though most of his guests — that included prominent ex-generals, clergymen and strategic analysts — praised the operation and heaped scorn and then praise at Al-Jarara, there was one guest, a small-time journalist who disagreed with the panelists.

He asked how a wanted man like Jarara was able to live in Pakistan undetected and that too while working as a chef in a hotel. He also said that Jarara had also been appearing on various cooking shows as a chef on TV food channels.

To this, the host snubbed the journalist telling him that he was asking irrelevant questions.

‘But before this raid, everyone was accusing the USA!’ the journalist protested.

This made the host angry and he slapped the journalist. He threatened the journalist by saying that he would lodge a case against him in accordance with the Islamic hudood ordinance.

The journalist responded by saying that the Saudis had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty. Hearing this, the host slapped the journalist again, saying he will get him booked for blasphemy.

At the end of the show, the host and the panelists set fire to a Guatemalan flag and sang the Pakistani national anthem in Arabic. Then, after handing over the treacherous journalist to the authorities, they proceeded to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.

However, they were soon deported by the Saudi regime for violating Saudi sovereignty.