Tuesday, December 29, 2009

U.S. Remembers Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

The United States Embassy in Islamabad extends its condolences to the government and people of Pakistan on the second anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson noted on the anniversary, "Benazir Bhutto gave her life in defense of the development of Pakistan's democratic institutions. The United States will continue to stand with the people and the government of Pakistan in defense of democracy."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Are We trying to become God?

By Sabina Rizwan Khan
Few weeks back, I was strolling down my email subscribed newsletters from different universities world wide, when I came across an advertisement, of a US local University newsletter, which stated: “Needs an egg-donor, for a sterile couple, the candidate must be aged between 20-25, 5’6’’, pleasant looking, dark straight hair, intelligent, with a GP score of an average 3.9, creative, nationality no barrier, will receive $ 40,000/-“

Reading that advertisement, I took about a minute to compose back my jumbled possible thoughts and raised my eye brow to the maximum height it could reach so. Being an addition to my bewildered world of knowledge, on the other hand, my mind flashed back to the headline of Scottish scientists cloning “Dolly” the Sheep, in 1996,. From there a new world of desire came into being, where under privileged people in their own way, asked ‘Can you help us?’ and the medical specialists anticipated, ‘Yes, We can!’

The era of cloning which is not unknown to us, came as whole vibrant ray of optimism to infertile couples who longed for their own child. Also, chances of finding cures of ailments like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s cancer rose. The basic idea was to celebrate the gift of life given by nature and to over rule its amendments…but was it that easy?

With the talk of human cloning, ethicists eventually advocated about how much man should mess with the order of nature. Whether life is a gift of nature or an industrial product was the concern raised. It surely became the talk of the town, a topic that made its way to kitchen tables to media places, pulpits to politician’s desks.
However, from the medicinal perspective, an infertility expert at Bayer College of Medicine, Houston suggested that the whole issue is not ethical but medical, giving joys to many. Its always gives a feeling of accomplishment and contentment, when you see a sad couple smile again when they know they can finally have their own child.

So rewarding as this may seem, it’s important to also understand that how much is this all true. So far attempts made for animal cloning has 98% failure rate or survival with multiple deformation risk. The realistic question remains, are we ready to take in such horror of human cloning? It reportedly took 104 attempts before the first in-vitro (test tube) baby, Louis Brown, was born. Are we pragmatically ready to kill thousands of embryos because they are just experimental failures? And should we be wrong if in matter of fact way, we call it a Mass murder?

I believe, all these questions are easy to rise but hard to answer. Well there are majority of people who view the prospect as a vague alaram with an un easy sense of an insight that science is dragging us into dark woods with no way back. To what extent do we want to go down the path of using reproduction technologies to shape our children genetically?

Now, coming all the way back to advertisement, it came in a university’s newsletter, which can be viewed in many campus’s newspapers and newsletters. In fact, Yale University, a renowned institute in USA, is quite known for such practices. Students in need of money for their semester fee and other expenditures are always available as donors. Amazingly, Yale’s donor’s list majorly comprises of Asians having high IQ level as some couples wants their kids to be geniuses. This actually leads to huge variety of choices you choose for your future to be baby. Whether the child will have black or white, curly or straight hair, you decide whether your kid could be next Tom cruise or Latin version of Angelina Jolie, or be a knock out brainy like Einstein.

Also, in Europe, people have started to save genetical matter of their loved ones, like their nails or hair, so that when they die, they can clone them in near future possible.

Here, now what is needed to understand is that we, with our limited knowledge have no idea regarding cloning’s consequences. We can’t overlook the fact such technology can be immorally used. What if the cloned person born with an evil perspective? Should we look forward to a society where criminals can easily clone themselves and run away as now shown in movies? It is absolutely possible that the clone may come up with modifications that are deformations due to technical disorder, will he be loved as its originator was, I mean its human psychology we are dealing here which is as intriguing as this whole matter is.

Messing with the God’s order of nature is not a good game to play, at least when you are not aware of the risks involved. It’s just a meager question but holds a lot of depth on which maybe our next generation and its ideology stands, by choosing our human race, are we trying to become God?

This power of producing replicas is a door way to a real illusion world with unexplainable dimensions. We must choose our destiny wisely, we must accept that life is an optimum mixture of havs and hav nots, we must realize that no matter what, we are mortal. It is the infused sense of materialism which has penetrated in us that we are valuing what is bound to go to dust some day. Our body has no value. We must acknowledge the fact that it is fine if you are not born, and it is fine if you die, if only you know how to live in this world, you will not need your own clone to live forever. Its compassion that surpasses our material existence, which enables us to live in others hearts and memories forever.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Syed Mustafa Kamal - Karachi's action man

By Mashaal Gauhar
When Karachi’s roads were being constructed by labourers working tirelessly into the night, passers by in cars caught a brief glimpse of a familiar face standing by them – Karachi’s city mayor: Syed Mustafa Kamal.
Once heaving with endless traffic, the newly built signal free roads have transformed the city. Poor infrastructure, political instability and civil strife have been the classic hallmarks of the city but Mustafa Kamal believes that the best way to bring about peace is by serving the people.
He is committed to lifting the disregarded people of Karachi from their urban squalor, which is why he constructed a water pipeline to Lyari, providing the residents with a direct water supply for the first time ever. Despite this, he is still haunted by the image of people taking to the streets with buckets and pots demanding water in the scorching heat. Though this had become a cruelly regular feature for the last five decades, their cries had fallen on deaf ears. Though Lyari is not an MQM stronghold, Mustafa Kamal made providing access to safe drinking water a top priority. The help and assistance extended to the citizens of Karachi irrespective of their political affiliations has won the hearts of the people and made Mustafa Kamal a hero.
His unprecedented success in revolutionising Karachi has gained him international renown. Perhaps this is because he symbolises the indomitable spirit of the people; he stands with the people who build the roads and clean the streets to keep body and soul together. In spite of the myriad challenges he faces, his dauntless spirit emerges from his love and commitment to the city of Karachi which he describes as his passion.
In his candid conversation with Blue Chip, he talks about his eventful tenure and pays tribute to the people of Karachi for their courage and resilience

Foreign Policy magazine described you as one of the best mayors in the world, in fact, the second best. What were your thoughts when you discovered this?
Mustafa Kamal: “Let me clarify. Foreign Policy had not described me as the second; my name was just on serial number two. When I got this news, I was very surprised and humbled. But some elements of the media criticised me for it, our political enemies wrote to Foreign Policy saying that they had no right to categorise the mayors. Foreign Policy said that they hadn’t meant to categorise it. But, it was a very pleasant surprise for me and I felt that I had not only been acknowledged by my country but also by the world.”

During your tenure you have done a lot for the city of Karachi. What steps have you taken to reduce violence and increase foreign investment?
MK: “If you evaluate the condition of the country today as far as peace and stability is concerned, I can vouch that there is no better place than Karachi in this whole region: Karachi is the economic hub, it is an economically vibrant city and it is politically vibrant as well. Despite all the challenges, the different ethnicities, all the political factions; the city continues to progress.
Incidents have been taking place for so many years but life doesn’t stop here in Karachi. I think this has been the greatest success of Karachi. This has not just been achieved through lip service – action speaks louder than words. I am a firm believer of action.
When this responsibility was given to me by my leader Mr. Altaf Hussain, he told me to serve each and every soul in this city. When the election was over, he called me to congratulate me. He told me that I am no longer the Nazim of MQM or an MQM candidate but the Nazim of the whole of Karachi. He said that I have to serve the whole of Karachi and be responsible for everyone in the city. He broadened my vision.
I started serving poor areas and providing them with the basic necessities of life. When I took up this responsibility four years ago, there was no master plan for the city. We made the first master plan for the city. You can well imagine: Karachi’s population had grown to 18 million people but the biggest city of Pakistan didn’t have a master plan, even after 58 years since the inception of Pakistan. Therefore, one can only imagine the magnitude of the problem! When I took over this responsibility, 40% to 45% of Karachi did not have a system of water and sewage, let alone any access to water. People were getting water through tankers and throwing their sewage on the road. Today, by the Grace of God, Lyari town now has direct access to water. There is a picture printed in my mind from childhood – during every hot season, we used to see pictures in the newspapers of the people of Lyari ­– men, women and children holding pots and buckets coming out onto the streets, protesting and blocking roads, demanding water. They have been doing this for the last four decades. Not one single union council member of my party lives there. Lyari is, in fact, a diehard PPP area. Even the late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had participated in elections from that constituency. Even today, the MPA, Town Nazim and MNA are PPP but they have never provided water supply. During these four decades, there have been chief ministers, prime ministers; but the people of Lyari could not get water. It is us; it is this haq parast government that has provided water. We have provided water to the people of Lyari through a six million gallon water supply line which was brought from 53km away to Lyari. Now, there is water available in each and every house of Lyari. There may still be some small difficulties as it is a difficult project. Prior to this, there was no main line bringing water to Lyari let alone a distribution system. We had to work on the main line and the distribution system simultaneously and by God’s Grace, we achieved this. There are also islands in Karachi which have been inhabited for 300 years before Pakistan’s inception that have not had direct access to water until now. The inhabitants of these islands would bring water from 7km away by traveling in small boats on the sea with containers. In fact, we have made a documentary on this. There used to be a tanker at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) where there was one tap from which 60,000 people would take water – they would travel everyday out to sea to do this. Since they had been deprived of water for generations, they had forgotten even to demand this as a basic right. They had accepted this as their destiny. We have provided them with water. We have laid down the water line under the seabed. We have given them water after 300 years. For the first time, they are getting water in their homes. Not one single union council member of my party lives there. I can go on and on giving you examples of how we have served Karachi without any discrimination.
To answer your question, this is what we have done to bring peace. Terrorism cannot be fought through guns and ammunition. Instead, give people a sense of ownership; give them a sense that somebody cares for them. At the end of the day, actions must speak. If families don’t have water, do not have a sewage system, are stuck on the road for two or three hours, you can use those people for anything. All the evil forces can prey on those frustrated people. We have created a model in Karachi which can be replicated in other parts of the country.”
The citizens of the more affluent areas like Defence and Clifton have also praised you for the City Government’s help in relief efforts after heavy rainfall.
MK: “I am very grateful to them.”

You have also initiated a project to make Karachi greener; can you elaborate on this?
MK: “We have planted over 900,000 trees in Karachi in areas where there were only concrete structures. Today, you will see that green belts and huge trees have come up. We have not only planted trees, but we have also protected them. We have created a sense of belonging in the hearts and minds of the people. I have told the people that I can plant a tree but I cannot protect a tree. You have to be the owners of those trees. The psyche is that our own property is not beyond the boundaries of our homes. The trees in front of your house are your property; the street is your property. Today we lack ownership. We started this campaign in the third year of my tenure. In the first year, I did not speak a word to the people of Karachi. I told my people that let’s not speak to people and tell them what to do; instead just focus on the job. People initially mistrusted the government because they have seen countless slogans, heard endless speeches, yet nobody comes forward and admits to corruption – they make big promises but deliver nothing so the people are quite naturally disillusioned. Therefore, I did not utter a single word. For three years, they saw my actions. Criticism was heaped upon me when we started digging up the roads in Karachi. At one point, I had dug up almost all of Karachi! But I had no choice. My city is an international city. I had to bridge the gap between Karachi and the other cities of the world. That is why we started projects simultaneously. If 40% of Karachi does not have water, we had to dig up the line to provide the water supply. After the people had seen our actions; when bridges were built, when signal free corridors had been constructed, when parks were made, when street lights were put up, when waste disposal mechanisms were installed; then we went to the people of Karachi. On 14 August, 2007 we launched the ‘I Own Karachi’ campaign. 28,000 people enlisted and all I asked was for them to come and listen. If I plant a tree but somebody cuts it down, what can I do? If I am making roads and somebody drives the wrong way, what can I do? People came and sacrificed two hours of their time.”

Your innovation against great challenges you have faced has gained global recognition. What factors do you think have contributed to your success?
MK: “I am not from the stereotypical feudal family. I did not spend a penny to get this post. I have been the MPA, then the Provincial Minister and then the Nazim of the biggest city in Pakistan, seventh largest city in the world – I did not spend a single penny to get this seat. I was a street worker of the MQM. My leader picked me up from the street and put me in front of 18 million people. There were question marks surrounding my selection as I was young – my predecessor was my grandfather’s age – so people had doubts in their mind. I was young and unknown. I had to prove that my leader’s decision was right. I think my dedication and honesty… I have dedicated my life to this cause. I have to prove the philosophy of my party and my leader that a middle class person without a big family name can run Karachi successfully. This is not in keeping with the traditional perception of the country where the position of mayors, governors, chief ministers and prime ministers are kept for feudal sons who study in the UK or America and take over from their fathers. If I failed, my party’s philosophy would have failed – that middle class literate youths do not have the potential to run the affairs of the city. They can be the followers, not be the leaders. By the Grace of God, I have proved this wrong.”

You must have made a lot of enemies.
MK: “Yes, I have. Doing something right is the toughest job. If you are willing to do something wrong you will make many friends here. One of the keys to my success is that you should know how to offend people; you must have the courage to offend people as you cannot please everybody. I can talk straight in front of anybody.”

You studied in Karachi and you have grown up in Karachi. What makes the city so special for you?
MK: “I can’t put it into words. It’s the whole atmosphere of the city. It’s a resilient city. It’s a crazy city. I can give you an example: When a cyclone comes and there is an announcement from the government to evacuate the seaside, everybody leaves the seaside and goes to safety. But, in Karachi, if there is an announcement of a cyclone or a flood, there are traffic jams in Clifton because everybody is rushing to the seaside to see the cyclone! People are on motorbikes with their families. That is what Karachi is all about: the great people. Resilience is a small word to describe them. That’s why despite the challenges Karachi has faced, the city has never gone down.”

What was your experience in Malaysia like? Were you inspired by the organisation there?
MK: “In Malaysia, different cultures and religions live together. The thing that inspired me was that everybody minds their own business. They respect everybody regardless of religion and ethnicity. People live in harmony and contribute to the wellbeing of their country. There are temples, churches and mosques, but people live in peace and with tolerance and that is what I was inspired by.”

What was your experience like as Sindh IT minister?
MK: “In the 2002 election, I was given the ticket for Member Provincial Assembly. I was the MPA in the previous government. After one year, I was given the responsibility of the Cabinet as well, then I was made IT minister. It was a newly created ministry. I can declare that the Sindh IT department made its presence felt all over Pakistan. During this time, we developed the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry which is a $200 billion global industry. 80% of this goes to India. If we can even get a fraction of this, we wouldn’t need any Kerry Lugar Bill or foreign aid. The unfortunate part is that we have the potential, we have the best human resources available for the BPO industry, and our youth can speak good English unlike the rest of the region. In India, every three months, a population the size of Islamabad gets jobs in BPO industry. Can you imagine what a huge opportunity for job creation this would be, not to mention the billions of dollars of foreign investment coming in? Since we have not been able to capitalise on this, business is going to the Philippines and South Africa. Why am I talking about it and why isn’t my Prime Minister? I have limitations; I have limited powers and I cannot speak on behalf of the country or the whole province. I am building an IT tower for a 10,000-seat call centre. This will be the largest call centre. This means that 30,000 youths will be employed because one seat carries three jobs. It will be a white collar job.”

You have also spearheaded parking projects and announced mega projects worth Rs. 1.7 billion for development to improve the city’s infrastructure in the shortest possible time.
MK: “We made the first parking plaza of Pakistan. Previously, there wasn’t any concept of parking plazas. We conceived these for all the crowded areas and incorporated them into our master plan. When I was responsible for the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA), I made the rule that no building can be constructed without a parking plaza. The first parking plaza was inaugurated on the busiest street of Saddar where there is a 1,100 car-parking plaza. Seven more are being constructed.
As far as infrastructure development is concerned, we have spent over Rs. 30 billion in order to provide a water and sewage system all over Karachi. We have spent over Rs. 200 billion on road infrastructure. We have constructed roads of over 15,000 km in Karachi. We have constructed 32 flyovers and bridges. One flyover or bridge used to take 11 years to complete. When we conceived the first signal free corridor in which there were three underpasses and three flyovers – the biggest in Pakistan – it was over a 15km stretch, we conceived and completed it in just eight months time. Our second signal free corridor comprises five flyovers and one underpass, which was completed in just one year over a 25km stretch of road. The third signal free corridor again has five flyovers and one underpass, which was completed in just six months time. These three projects were completed in record time when previously constructing just one bridge took 11 years. In three years altogether, we have completed all three signal free corridors. There is an international case study on Karachi. Everyday, hundreds of new cars are coming onto the streets. Had we not done this the city would have been choked, there would have been riots on the streets because of the traffic jams.”

What have been the other highlights of your tenure?
MK: “We have launched a complaint management system which is unique in the world. The 18 million people of Karachi didn’t have the right to speak up or to even lodge a complaint to their authority. If you had no water, there was no number to reach your authority. There was no phone number to call your mayor or local administration to clean your street or fix your streetlights. Thousands of people do not get water everyday. I know exactly what the situation the city is in: I know how many people are suffering from water and sewage problems. The system is based on a 50-seat call centre. Highly trained youths have been appointed to speak to the people. They have been told that the people of Karachi are your bosses so you have to be respectful. When you call 1339, it’s all computerised; it goes to 18 towns simultaneously, which have offices, which are equipped and linked directly through Wimax so they are on real-time. The DCO’s offices are linked on real-time as well as the Water Board’s. My office is also linked up to the system on real-time. The moment the complaint has been entered on the system, there is a four-digit reference number which you can go back to or you can refer back by calling them. The complaint is stored in the database and will appear on the office screen of that town where the complaint was made. Therefore, the authorities immediately know what problem you are facing. I also receive this information on a real-time basis. I know about the whole city and where the complaints are coming from. This is what I am really proud of. The people of Karachi are finally able to pour out their grievances and frustrations. They have a channel to do that now. We are the only government organisation in Pakistan to have ISO 9000/1 certification. Without this system, there is no way that these people could reach out to me and tell me about their problems. There is a system to ensure that my people on the ground are resolving their problems so there is a check on them as well. I can also see how many problems have been resolved. There are three categories: active complaints, done jobs and unresolved jobs. The chief engineer has to come back to the office and enter the information. There is a third party to ensure that the information is accurate. So far 178,717 people’s problems have been resolved. This is how I have established a system of accountability on my own people and for the first time the people of Karachi have a voice. This is what I am really proud of.
We have also developed a command and control centre where we can see 25% of the city. We are expanding this across different parts of the city.”

Who are your role models?
MK: “Altaf Hussain. He is my leader. Without him I would not be sitting in this position. My father is not an industrialist nor is he a politician that under his name people would give votes to me. Nobody knew Mustafa Kamal three years ago. There were so many questions surrounding my selection. Whatever I have been able to deliver is because of Mr. Altaf Hussain, because he put his trust in me. He gave me the strength. I was very nervous. I still have sleepless nights. I cannot rest and always have a fear that what if something bad happens and people call Mr. Hussain and say who have you chosen as the Nazim of the city.”

What are your plans for the future?
MK: “I am a street worker of the MQM and I will continue preaching MQM’s philosophy. I will be the advocate of Mr. Altaf Hussain’s philosophy. I will be one of the ambassadors of Mr. Hussain.”

Tell us about Karachi, the Kohinoor?
MK: “This is a pictorial book comparing the Karachi of four years ago to the present day.”

You have achieved so much, what has kept you so humble?
MK: “I have endured the difficulties of the common citizen. I have traveled in overcrowded buses; I know how it feels when the bus conductor is rude to you; and I know how it feels to go to a government school. My parents always emphasised education but I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I am a product of this society and I can feel the pain of the people. I am not doing this because it’s just my job ­– it’s my passion and my party’s philosophy: to make this administration the best administration. Today, we have established a success model. This has been our first chance to deliver. Now we don’t have to speak because the results speak for themselves.”
(Source: Blue Chip Mag)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CITY GOVT. ACHIEVED MIRACULOUS RESULTS ON EID-UL-AZHA. NAZIM KARACHI

City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal has said that city government has achieved hundred percent targets in the three day operation of disposal of offal on Eid-ul-Azha and the city has been cleaned thoroughly. Achievement of such miraculous results is good news to people of Pakistan that all of their problems could be solved with the available resources providing you have purity of intentions and sincere leadership. Performance of city district government Karachi has now become a role model for other cities of Pakistan.

He expressed these views while addressing a press conference at Civic Center on Tuesday. DCO Karachi Javed Hanif and EDO Municipal Services Masood Alam were also present on this occasion.

City Nazim said that city government has this year performed even better if compared to previous year’s performance which has been appreciated by whole country. One the biggest success we have got this year has been the active involvement of citizens of Karachi in the whole operation who took their time and personally helped us in the swift lifting and disposal of offal.

Nazim Karachi said that the cantonment boards and other municipal agencies working in the city were also taken on board before Eid-ul-Azha and they have also implemented our code of conduct for the disposal of offal. Unlike past not single offal was dumped by cantonment boards and other organizations at the landfill sites.

He said that he had received the phone call of Base Commander Masroor, Base Commander Faisal and Air vice Marshal Arshad Quddus of Southern Air Command who has thanked all city government officials for successful undertaking of the operation.

Nazim Karachi said that we have not procured any new machinery for lifting of offal and only used the available resources. Effects of such a successful operation might have been reached to other cities of Pakistan as the media and people residing there would ask their elected representatives to follow the example of City District Government Karachi.

Replying a question he said that he tried his best to give cash reward to lower grade officials of city government but he could not do it owing to the financial constraints. “Anyway I will try my best to do something for them”, he added.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

GHQ Operation successful, 39 hostages released

The General Head Quarters (GHQ) Operation has been completed successfully, Dunya News Sunday reported. The forces got 39 hostages released while four terrorists got killed and three hostages embraced martyrdom in the operation. One hostage was injured. On early morning today, the blast and firing sounds were heard from the security building of the GHQ.

The operation was done from all the four directions while choppers kept monitoring the GHQ building during it. The head of terrorists Aqil alias Dr. Usman has also been arrested in injured condition. ISPR DG Major General Athar Abbas told Dunya News when Dr. Usman was arrested, he blew up the gathered explosives injuring himself and five other security officials. Two SSG commandos also got injured in the operation. He said that 39 detainees had been freed. He told that four terrorists were killed and two of them were wearing suicide jackets.

The Major General informed that hostages were in better condition and had been shifted to the safe location. Some eight to 10 terrorists clad in military uniform attacked the first check post of the GHQ in the most sensitive area of Rawalpindi and threw hand grenades. Six officials including a Brigadier and Lt. Colonel were martyred in the operation. Escaped terrorists were surrounded by the forces near the second check post on the other side of the GHQ where terrorists held 28 people hostage. Careful strategy was adopted during the operation to minimize the loss of lives.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CHIEF JUSTICE DIRECTS PPO SINDH TO RECOVER ABDUCTEE

Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo moto notice on an application of a lady resident of Gujrawala who is under illegal confinement of an influential in Pano Aqil, Sukkar, Sindh. She alleged in her application that Saifullah S/o Inayatullah Cheema betrayed and raped her. She wanted to lodge FIR against him but his brother Amanat threatened her of dire consequences. He kidnapped and sold her to an influential in Sindh. She further alleged that she was forcibly married with Saifullah against her will and consent and she is still under captivation.

Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has directed PPO Sindh to recover the abductee and produce her before the Court on 13.10.2009 and has further directed PPO Punjab to explain whether any case of her abduction has been registered in Gujranwala or not and report be sent on 13.10.2009.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ansar Burney Trust bringing back bodies of 17 Pakistanis


The Ansar Burney Trust contacted the Iran Government on humanitarian grounds to bring back the dead bodies of 17 trafficked Pakistanis died in an accid...ent in Iran on 11th of September, when their vehicle fell off a hill and since their dead bodies are now lying at Imam Reza Hospital, Sham Hospital and two other Hospitals in Tehran.

Mr. Fahad Burney, Vice Chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust is now in contact with the Iran Government to bring these dead bodies to Pakistan so that their family members would be able to see their faces before burrial as per their Islamic traditions in Pakistan.

Fahad Burney said that these all were belongs from Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujranwala and other parts of Punjab.

Ansar Burney Trust said that as per reports 43 Pakistanis were going illegally to Turkey via Iran to go to Europe after paying Rs. 600,000 to an Agent in Pakistan. The criminal Agent after taking 600,000 from each Pakistani arranged visa (fake) to take them to Europe on a promise of better future.

The Expert Advisor on Human Rights in the United Nations at Geneva and Chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust, Mr. Ansar Burney has demanded the Government of Pakistan to bring these cruel and criminal Agents to Justice to stop further human trafficking from Pakistan.

The Ansar Burney Trust will bear all the expenses to bring these back to pakistan, purely on humanitarian grounds as these families sent their loved ones for a better future in Europe after taking loans on interest.

In this regard Mr. Fahad Burney is also requested with the family members of the berieved families to contact Ansar Burney Trust at Wassiamal Building, Arambagh Road, Karachi or phone number: (021) 32623382, 32623383 or direct to Mr. Ansar Burney on mobile 0300-8243460

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Battle Over a Book


From Jyoti Malhotra in New Delhi

China banned Alice in Wonderland for several years because the animal kingdom was upgraded to human form, England banned D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover until 1960 for its sexually explicit content (E.M. Forster was among those who defended the book at the trial), but India has now gone one step further and allowed the banning of former foreign minister Jaswant Singh’s book Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence in the state of Gujarat.

Turns out that the book is being secretly smuggled into Gujarat from nearby Rajasthan, probably because Gujaratis really want to know what the fuss is about. They’ve watched Jaswant Singh live on television, every muscle and twitch, expressing deep anguish and betrayal at being expelled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – the political party he loved and served ever since it was formed in 1980 – for writing a book on the partition of India in which Mohammed Ali Jinnah plays the lead role.

Singh seeks to right the balance on the pride of place that Jawaharlal Nehru occupies in the Indian pantheon, right there on top along with all the gods, and Jinnah’s somewhat murky positioning as he stormed out of the Hindustani Undivided Family in 1947.

History, which seems to have such a grip on the irony business, records of course that three days before the partition of the subcontinent in which more than a million people died and nearly eight million lost their homes and hearth, Jinnah went to the Constituent Assembly and delivered his now-famous speech on how Pakistan was going to be a secular state, in which Hindus could go back to their temples and Muslims to their mosques and none of it would impact their lives as Pakistani citizens.

But as Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah’s other noted biographer writes, “What was Jinnah thinking of?” Having played a key role in souring and spilling the milk, in splitting the country along communal lines, Jinnah was now turning the other cheek? This is the question that Jaswant Singh seeks to answer in his book.

“It saddens me that I have been expelled on the grounds of writing a book,” Singh told journalists soon after he was told on the phone that the BJP had thrown him out for his attempt at de-demonising Pakistan’s national hero. The party’s attempt at disciplining one of its senior-most members would have been farcical if it wasn’t so serious. By doing what it did, the BJP sent a message to the country that it wasn’t going to brook dissent and allow any deviation from the party line.

But what is the party line? That Sardar Vallabhai Patel, a senior Congress leader and independent India’s first home minister, is a central BJP icon because of his no-nonsense approach towards the country’s Muslims (in opposition to Nehru’s wishy-washy secular nonsense, claims the BJP). But as Jaswant Singh points out, it would be unfair to paint Patel in such colours, not only because he was often “far off the mark” on several occasions, including the division of India, but also because he was first of all a Congress leader and only then a right-wing one.

So when Singh rhetorically asked his now-former party, through the press, what they thought of the fact that it was their beloved Patel, who after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948, had banned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) (another banning, this time wholly necessary), the question echoed around the country but found no takers within the RSS family, the mother lode of the BJP.

Clearly, Jaswant Singh’s writing of Jinnah, the banning of the book and the subsequent unrest within the BJP – another ideologue and close confidante of senior leader L.K. Advani, Sudheendra Kulkarni has quit and journalist-turned-BJP member and former telecom minister Arun Shourie has dubbed the party, ‘Alice in Blunderland’ – marks its gravest crisis in years.

It reflects the party’s lack of introspection over its recent debacles and its refusal to ask why it lost India both in the 2004 and the 2009 elections. The obvious answer to that is the party’s unwillingness to find a moderate leader who can represent all of the country, somewhat along the lines of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Jaswant Singh, with his refusal to become a primary member of the RSS (believing that his stint in the Indian army was good enough to make him a patriot) and his studied lack of hypocrisy (his enjoys his daily evening drink, a mixture of wine and soda), was one such option, even though his refusal to be a fellow-traveller of the RSS ultimately made him a political lightweight.

On the other, the BJP book ban on Jinnah underlines that the debate around the idea of India still continues, 62 years after partition. Is India, then, the largest democracy in the world with its attendant ideals of free speech and expression, or is it an incoherent state that remains unable to fulfill its own promises despite elections every five years?

Considering that it was the BJP under Vajpayee which repeatedly extended its hand of peace to Pakistan – despite Kargil in 1999, the attack against parliament in 2001, the attack against the Kaluchak army camp in 2002 and Operation Parakram in 2003, when both armies were eyeball-to-eyeball for nine months along the border – Jaswant Singh’s long eye on history has fallen on rough soil.

There’s a third irony in this continuing story: the book is doing brisk business, the controversy ultimately helping it to sell even more widely than the author could have hoped. In a few weeks he will wend his way to Pakistan – to more stories on the front pages of newspapers. (Newsline)

Friday, September 18, 2009

More than 25 People killed, several injured in Kohat suicide blast

The death toll in a suicide attack at a market in Kohat town has hit 25 while the casualties were feared to be increased further, a private TV reported. The attack occurred at Kacha Paka bazaar at Hangu road on Friday where a suicide bomber on foot detonated explosives next to a small hotel, leaving at least 25 dead and 35 others wounded. A suicide car bomb tore through a Pakistan market, killing up to 14 people and gutting shops on Friday as families stocked up on supplies for a major religious festival, police said.

The explosion destroyed vehicles and shops near a bus stop in Ustarzai, a small mountain town in the northwest which lies between the garrison city of Kohat and Hangu, another Shiite-dominant town with a history of sectarian violence, police said. The area was packed with shoppers buying food and delicacies for the weekend and the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which Pakistanis expect to start on Monday with the sighting of the new moon after the fasting month of Ramadan. "A suicide bomber blew up a car filled with explosives in the market. Ten people were killed and many wounded," said Ali Hasan, a local police officer on the ground in Ustazai. Police spokesman Fazal Naeem in nearby Kohat said: "We have recovered 14 dead bodies. Many people were wounded.

The suicide bomber was sitting in a car." Police said the attack occurred near a bus stop where passenger buses and coaches arrive and depart from other towns across northwest Pakistan, where the United States has branded Islamist militants an existential threat. Police said the explosion caused heavy damage and officers were frantically organising efforts to rescue the dead and wounded. The attack was the second in two days in Kohat, a rough town in the region bordering Afghanistan with a history of sectarian and other militant violence. A bomb wounded six people Thursday.

Heavy contingent of police arrived at the scene soon after the incident and cordoned off the site. Near 32 shops at the market caved in due to the blast's impact and the rescuers put hard efforts to pull victims from the rubble, a news agency said citing a local police official. The agency quoted local area nazim Syed Mehtabul Hassan as saying that the death have reached 25 while several others were also wounded. He says that 25 bodies have been pulled out of the rubble of the hotel and nearby shops. Emergency was declared in all the major hospitals of the city while the paramedical teams also carried out emergency relief activities at the attack site. Most of the critically injured were rushed to district hospital Kohat. Hangu Road was blockaded by the forces for all kinds of traffic following the attack. Police were collecting the remains of the bomber for DNA test. (Nation)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Osama bin Laden requested meetings with former Pakistan PM

A former official of Pakistan’s intelligence service has claimed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif met Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden five times.

The claim, which has been hotly denied by Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was made on the “Eleventh Hour” TV program by Khalid Khwaja, the former ISI official and now chairman of the Defence of Human Rights organisation.

Khwaja told the interviewer he arranged meetings between bin Laden and Nawaz Sharif at bin Laden’s request and would provide solid evidence if necessary, saying he was hopeful Nawaz Sharif would not tell any lies about the meetings.

He told ARY News in Pakistan he had personally met the Al Qaeda chief many times prior to the 9/11 incident, but had not seen him since.

Nawaz Sharif’s political party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, has accused Khwaja of making baseless claims.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Musharraf in London

By Ayesha Ijaz Khan

As a commando, Musharraf was probably taught to act first and think later. And that is precisely what he has done by choosing to make London his interim home. I use the word "interim" because I am sure that had he thought rationally about permanent relocation, he would have opted for one of the Gulf States. The UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia offer fancier lifestyles with villas, well-priced cooks, drivers and maids. Hobnob with the royalty and other favours may also be granted, such as use of private aircraft, a privilege Musharraf is said to have availed of often. For those so inclined, there is also no dearth of music parties, even in Saudi Arabia, where I spent twelve years as a child. Not to mention, in Musharraf's case, far better protection from the law in Pakistan and immunity from trial in general.

In London, by contrast, flats are generally small, house help is paid by the hour, and although at the moment Musharraf is being provided state security, questions are being raised about it in Parliament and efforts made by the likes of Lord Nazir to contact the lawyers who had helped extradite Chile's Pinochet. By all accounts, Musharraf's future in London is bleak and a significant downgrade from what he was accustomed to in Pakistan. Why, then, would he have chosen London?

The only reason that I can think of is that London is politically active. The Gulf states, on the other hand, are comfortable but politically dead. When he left Pakistan, he must have been certain of his return and, moreover, of his political revival. He must not have seriously considered the Supreme Court asking him to appear and explain the actions of Nov 3, 2007.

As someone who criticised Musharraf harshly and continually ever since he deposed the chief justice in March 2007, I find it odd now that he resides about a twenty-minute walk from me. And although I have neither seen him nor met him in London, in spite of the fact that I regularly run errands in and around Edgware Road and often pass by his building, Indian acquaintances claim that they saw him working on his biceps at the local gym. They could very well be pulling my leg.

I have been informed by a well-connected Pakistani visiting London this summer that Musharraf paid 1.4 million pounds sterling for a three-and-a-half bedroom flat off Edgware Road. For those not familiar with the London property market, a half-bedroom is one where a single bed can fit, but not a double bed. If in fact Musharraf did pay that amount, all I can say is that he has been royally ripped off!

The flat in question should have cost no more than a million pounds, and the price being quoted is a third too much. Edgware Road is a decent locality, but by no means the most expensive in London. Had the property been situated in nearby Mayfair or St John's Wood, it could have easily fetched the price being quoted, but on Edgware Road, unless one is selling to a recent immigrant who needs an urgent foothold in London and is unaware of the going rate, values tend to be lower than several other central-London localities.

London does, of course, have its share of Nigerian generals, Thai politicians and Russian intelligence bosses trying to secure their place in exile, although the Russians have far too much money and often gravitate around the more expensive Belgravia. In fact, London's property market is more reliant on foreign money than perhaps any other in the world. The most expensive property in London was purchased two years ago by the Emir of Qatar for a whopping 110 million sounds. His super-posh One Hyde Park address is reputed to have its own private tunnel linking it to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in prestigious Knightsbridge. Sheikh Hamad's 2007 purchase outdid Indian businessman Lakshmi Mittal's 2004 purchase of a Kensington mansion, which he bought for 70 million pounds and allegedly spent another 20 million on refurbishment.

The building identified to me as Musharraf's, on the other hand, is average by London standards, not posh. Far from a palace in Surrey or a mansion in Jeddah, the building in question, along with the one in front of it, are popular with visitors from South Asia and the Arab world. It is also perhaps worth mentioning that several Pakistani politicians and businessmen and/or their children owned flats in those buildings prior to Musharraf's purchase. It may also be noted that the leaders of some of our political parties, including Mian Nawaz Sharif, President Zardari, and Imran Khan's children live in far better localities in London or New York (as the case may be) and in more expensive properties. I am not at all suggesting that owning expensive properties is proof of any wrongdoing, but, if asked, the owner in question should be prepared to explain the source of wealth and present proof of taxes paid commensurate with the value of his\her assets.

The idea of this piece is by no means to present a defence of Musharraf, for I feel strongly that he must face the courts in Pakistan foremost for acting against the judiciary and violating the sanctity of the Constitution. But if we choose to speak of financial corruption, then we must be fair and maintain perspective. That is what justice demands of us. (The News)


The writer is a London-based lawyer-turned-political commentator. Website: www.ayeshaijazkhan.com

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Baitullah Mehsud is alive, still holding command of Taliban fighters: Hakimullah Mehsud


Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a coalition of various Taliban groups, has refuted the reports about killing of Taliban supremo Baitullah Mehsud in a drone strike. Hakimullah Mehsud, an influential Taliban commander while refuting the reports has said the Taliban will release a video of Baitullah Mehsud. He said Baitullah Mehsud was alive and still holding the command of Taliban fighters. He promised to release a recorded video of Mehsud within two to three days.

Baitullah Mehsud is dead

* Foreign minister says govt pursuing ground verification
* Interior minister says operation will continue until Mehsud’s group is eliminated
* TTP deputy chief says he can neither confirm, nor deny Baitullah’s death * Hakeemullah Mehsud, Waliur Rehman Mehsud, Azmatullah in close race to emerge as new TTP chief

ISLAMABAD: Quoting intelligence reports on Friday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan.

“Based on information gleaned from intelligence reports, the news of Baitullah’s death is correct. But we are going for ground verification, and when the information has been confirmed, then we will be 100 percent sure,” he told reporters at a local hotel after addressing the Youth Parliament. He also told BBC Radio that it was “pretty certain” that the Taliban chief was dead, Reuters reported. A Taliban commander and aide to Baitullah Mehsud, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that the TTP chief was killed in the US strike. “I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan,” Taliban commander Kafayatullah said by telephone. He would not give any further details.

No end in sight: Mehsud was allegedly killed in a drone attack on Wednesday while visiting his father-in-law Maulana Ikramuddin’s house. The attack also resulted in the deaths of one of his wives, Ikramuddin’s daughter, and over half-a-dozen guards. “Information is coming from that area that he is dead,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “I am unable to confirm unless I have solid evidence,” he said. He said the military was determined to finish off the Taliban in Pakistan. “It is a targeted law enforcement action against Baitullah Mehsud’s group and it will continue until Baitullah Mehsud’s group is eliminated forever,” he said.

He urged the Taliban to lay down their arms and urged them to come into the mainstream, saying the new TTP chief would face the same fate as Baitullah. He said the TTP is a banned outfit and there was no possibility of talks with them, the Online news agency reported.

No confirmation: TTP deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, meanwhile, told Daily Times he could neither confirm nor deny Baitullah’s killing in the drone attack. “Baitullah Mehsud was killed in the drone attack,” Ikramuddin’s neighbours told Daily Times. Military and intelligence sources told Daily Times the best confirmation would be from the Taliban. “To be frank, the Taliban themselves can confirm their leader’s death. Otherwise, the lack of a proper government in the area prevents us from taking definitive action,” the intelligence officials added.

However, an intelligence officer in South Waziristan told Reuters that Mehsud’s funeral had already taken place. “He was killed with his wife and he was buried in Nargosey,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Online news agency quoted a private TV channel as reporting that the government could make the official announcement with regard to Baitullah’s death within the coming week. It said the Interior Ministry had received a fax from South Waziristan Political Agent Syed Shahab Ali Shah confirming Baitullah’s death.

New TTP chief: Meanwhile, intelligence officials and Taliban sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that Taliban commanders were meeting in the Tribal Areas on Friday to choose a successor. It was unclear when they might reach a decision.

Three Pakistani intelligence officials said the likeliest successor was Mehsud’s deputy, Hakeemullah, a commander known for recruiting and training suicide bombers. Two other prominent possibilities, the officials said, were Azmatullah and Waliur Rehman, also close associates of Mehsud.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SC orders warrants for Hamesh Khan

The Supreme Court has ordered to issue warrants for the arrest of former president Punjab Bank Hamesh Khan and owner of the Haris Steel Mill Sheikh Afzal.
The three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary while hearing the Haris Steel Mill case also asked the government to use diplomatic channels for bringing these defaulters back home from abroad.
The Supreme Court directed the FIA to issue arrest warrant for Hamesh Khan, in Rs 9 billion Bank of Punjab loan scam. The bench which was also comprised Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmed and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja adjourned the hearing of the case till August 10.
The apex court again directed the three main accused in the case Hamesh Khan, Shaikh Afzal, owner of Haris Steel and his son Haris Afzal to appear before the court and also directed that appearance of the accused was a must as their non-appearance was creating a wrong message.
The Chief Justice directed Director General FIA, Tariq Khosa to use diplomatic channels for the arrest of Hamesh Khan, former President Bank of Punjab.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Omar Abdullah submits resignation over sex scandal


Indian-held Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah resigned on Tuesday over what he called “baseless” allegations of his involvement in a sex scandal. In response, Governor NN Vohra asked Abdullah to continue his duties as chief minister. Vohra said he would not accept the resignation until he had fully investigated the allegations and verified the claims.


Abdullah has been accused by a former finance minister of being party since 2006 to a prostitution racket, which involved 40 women and underage girls whose clients allegedly included politicians, bureaucrats, security officials and businessmen in IHK. The case is being investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, which has charged several former state ministers and top security officials in the scandal.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Katreena won’t marry Salman, claims astrologist


An astrologist in India has predicted that Bollywood actress Katreena Kaif would not marry Salman Khan.

Heart-throb with pleasant smile, Katreena was born on July 16, 1984 in London and thus her number is seven while Salman’s number is nine.

Indian astrologist Bhawik Sanghvi said that this year would prove the best year for Katreena.

Predicting about Katreena’s personal life, he said that katreena would not marry Salman as there is not only their ideas and concepts differ but their likes and dislikes are also contradicting with each other’s.

Sufi Mohammad arrested in Peshawar


A prominent religious leader in Pakistan's Swat valley has been arrested after allegedly speaking against the government and encouraging violence.

Maulana Sufi Mohammed, who brokered a failed deal with Islamabad that would have seen a stricter interpretation of sharia - or Islamic law - in Swat was seized on Sunday in the city of Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

"The government has arrested Maulana Sufi Mohammed. A formal case against him will be registered soon," Mian Iftekhar Hussein, the information minister for NWFP, said.

"He killed a lot of people. Again he was planning for this. We will not allow anyone to destroy peace at Malakand and Swat."

Sufi Mohammed's two sons, Ziaullah and Rizwanullah, were reportedly arrested with him during a police raid. His third son, a teacher, was killed in a Pakistani military bombardment in May.

"Many people here will tell you that Sufi Mohammed was an arbiter of peace," Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from the capital, Islamabad, said.

"There has been much disagreement over who broke the [peace] deal."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pervez Musharraf summoned in judges case


The 14-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday summoned former President Pervez Musharraf to defend charges leveled against him for imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.

The larger bench issued a notice to Pervez Musharraf to appear in person or through counsel on July 29.

The PCO judges case hearing was adjourned till July 29.

A 14-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry heard the case relating the promulgation of emergency on November 3 and the appointment of judges of higher judiciary.

Giving his remarks, the CJ said justice will not meet its demands, if the court gives verdict without giving explanation chance to Musharraf; thereupon, Sindh High Court Bar counsel Hamid Khan retorted former Gen Yahya Khan appeared before court in Aasma Gilani case.

The CJ said the case is highly important.

CJ Chaudhry queried Hamid Khan Advocate regarding the repercussions of the verdict of this case, adding, ‘We will have to muse seriously why July 5, 77 happened, what effects judicial rulings had on national life.’

‘The case may have effects on our judges ranks, we will have to spot repercussions of the case ruling outside the courtroom.’

Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday said in his remarks that the judges who took oath on PCO on November 3, 2007, ran foul of the order of 7 SC judges.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FIA detects forged ATM card scam


ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has unearthed illegal bank transactions through forged Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards and arrested a senior banker allegedly involved in the scam.

FIA sources told that though not big in terms of the money involved, the scam had to be investigated thoroughly because it was the first crime of its kind in the country.

Detectives of the FIA found that Rs820,000 was siphoned off from different banks last month using forged cards at the ATM installed at the Bank Al Habib, Gulbarg branch, in Lahore.

A case has been registered against Khawaja Muhammad Usman Ghani, manager of operations at the bank, and two residents of Lahore --- Muhammad Imran Butt and Suleman Maqbool.

The scam came to light when representatives of the Allied Bank, Habib Bank, United Bank and National Investment Bank visited the FIA’s Cyber Crime Cell in Lahore with complaints that cheats had hacked into their security systems and withdrawn amounts from their clients’ accounts using forged ATM cards, wreaking havoc through their online business.

Subsequent investigations revealed that white plastic cards, widely available in the market, had been used by criminals to produce counterfeit ATM cards with relevant data of bank account holders provided by an insider.

Every customer using the machine gets a printed receipt showing details of his/her transaction from the machine. A copy of the same transaction is printed inside the ATM for the bank. Its officer deputed to feed the machine takes the prints at the time of reloading currency and compares the balance with this report. This process is linked with the bank’s main server online.

According to the complaints filed by the HBL, the data of their six ATM cards had been skimmed by the culprits and on the basis of this data, six illegal transactions had been carried out by transferring the data over white plastic cards and subsequently using this card at ATMs. It was further reported that in two cases, the amounts were illegally transferred to different bank accounts.

Three illegal transactions totalling Rs559,000 were traced to the bank account of accused Muhammad Imran Butt and Rs50,000 to the bank account of accused Suleman Maqbool.

Camera recording of Bank Al Habib showed that the accused obtained PIN codes from Khawaja Muhammad Usman, operations manager of the bank. In order to obtain the PIN code the accused, with the help of the same bank officer, mounted a small wireless camera inside the ATM booth and skimmed the data from there and carried out a number of illegal transactions from the accounts of a number of card holders.

Accused Khawaja Muhammad Usman Ghani was arrested on Tuesday. During interrogation, he disclosed that to date he had provided details of 1500 PIN codes of different ATM cards to one Hafiz Waseem.

He disclosed that his share in the funds amassed through the illegal transactions was 50 per cent.
Teams have been constituted for the arrest of Muhammad Imran Butt and Suleman Maqbool who are at large.

Cyber frauds, depositor’s risks


by Sher Baz Khan

The hacking of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) system of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) believed to have involved withdrawals of over Rs84million from the industrial zones of Punjab alone, has added a new risk to the country’s banking system.

The two ATM cards of another bank with zero balance accounts were misused by a gang of well-organised hackers in Multan, Lahore, Faisalabad and Sialkot to defraud the state-run bank.

Primary investigations indicate the alleged involvement of an employee of the cyber wing of the bank’s headquarters in Karachi who knew about tons of ATM related data and the bank’s online money supply security system. Now he has vanished from the scene. The gang seems to have mastered the whole security modules of the bank’s online money supply service and cracked its codes to the level that they even made the ATM machines respond positively to commands for which the machines are programmed to respond negatively.

More shockingly, the gang withdrew just within hours millions of rupees through these machines which were programmed for not issuing any amount beyond Rs20,000 in a single day.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) suspects that committing such cyber-cum-financial crimes was not easy without involvement of those who served as the administrators of the bank’s One-Link – the NBP’s ATM sharing service with 14 other banks. The agency has also arrested a retired employee of another bank, whose zero-balance account was mis-used. The search is on for the suspected head of the gang, Ali Hassan alias Bacha. The FIA has also warned other banks of similar cyber robberies if they fail to improve their security systems for online money transactions. The news has sent shock waves across the country as bank account holders now feel more vulnerable.. The question arises as to who will be responsible (the bank management or the client?) in case, a client’s cash card is misused.

ATMs are vulnerable because many of them are in isolated locations. Those in safer locations are still vulnerable to surreptitious damage — so even under observation it should be impossible to tell who was sabotaging the ATM equipment..

Now, the questions being asked is: Are the banks capable to win this battle against cyber gangs? The frequency of cyber crimes involving financial institutions and the general public has increased. However only few know about the existing anti-cyber crimes law and where to lodge a complaint in case any such crime was committed. .

It was in December last year that the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2007 was promulgated. Under the ordinance, the FIA’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (NR3C) is empowered to enforce the law. The NR3C was established in the FIA in March 2003 Till the formation of NR3C, Pakistan mainly relied on the US Central Investigation Agency (CIA) for detecting cyber crime and militant websites.

The NR3C now deals with 14 major categories of cyber crimes including, financial crimes, email treating, denial of service attack and DDOS attack, virus/worm attacks, internet time thefts, unauthorised access, credit card frauds, anti Pakistan/Islam material on websites, ATM frauds, mobile communication, theft of systems, web SMS, pornography and Interpol cases.

Those involved in crimes of stealing codes and misusing online data or hacking can be punished for three to five years imprisonment if found guilty by special tribunals.

Syed Ammar Jafri, head of the NR3C told Dawn that the agency has started an awareness campaign against cyber crimes by organising workshops and seminars on cyber security challenges and solutions. The NR3C provides single point of contact for local and foreign organisations for matters related to cyber crimes It is imparting training and related security education to persons of government/semi-government and private sector organisations.

Mr Jafri however warned that what happened at the NBP could happen at any other bank. The NBP was targeted for the lack of security. He said cyber crime was a reality. In majority of the developing countries, where cyber crimes are on the rise, the clients have been demanding of the banks to bear the burden of money fraudulently withdrawn from its ATMs by mis-using a client’s cash cards.

The business community in Hong Kong has demanded that in cases where the gross negligence of the account holders was not involved, banks must bear the full loss incurred. Otherwise, it may undermine customers’ confidence in the use of ATMs. It is in the interests of banks to prevent ATM frauds and bear the losses where the clients are not responsible for any negligence.

There is also a need to take precautionary measures for giving greater protection to ATMs, particularly those located in less secure areas. It is, of course, for the individual banks, exercising their own judgement, to determine the appropriate precautionary measures needed. The security features of ATMs can be ensured by monitoring these machines continuously after installing closed-circuit television; implementing a mechanism that records relevant information on

ATM cards or credit cards so that banks can determine whether an unauthorised ATM transaction is carried out through a counterfeit card; patrolling ATMs more frequently during and after office hours; encouraging customers to report any suspicious devices detected on ATMs and providing them with the relevant telephone number to do so at the ATMs; and alerting customers if any unusual transaction patterns are noted.

There is a need also for depositors to exercise greater care in protecting their cards and PINs. For handling cases involving customers who may have the bad luck to be victims of ATM frauds, banks must introduce complaint handling procedures. They should have systems in place to ensure that customer complaints are promptly investigated and resolved in a satisfactory manner. While the FIA should be notified as soon as possible, given the suspicion of fraud involved, the internal investigation of the banks should be conducted promptly and the complainants kept informed. (Courtesy PBA)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Larceny case registered against MPA Shumaila


LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed police authorities to take legal action against MPA Shumaila Rana by registering the larceny case against her for stealing credit cards.

According to Punjab Government spokesman, the CM directed police to expedite investigations against her and take disciplinary action in the light of the investigations.

Earlier, Shahbaz Sharif asked for the details of MPA Shumaila Rana larceny case.

Meantime talking to Geo News, Senior Adviser and PML-N Punjab President Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa said this is a plain case of theft and Shumaila Rana will have to resign like former MNA Haji Pervez.

Khosa said in case the theft is confirmed, then legal action will be taken against her; also, she will have to face disciplinary action from party.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

CPLC to launch new database in Central Jail Karachi


The Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) has recently introduced a jail up gradation project called Prison Management Information System which will manage the records and history of those imprisoned in local jails, The News has learnt.

CPLC Chief Sharfuddin Memon said that CPLC is planning to upgrade other prisons in Sindh phase-wise, thereby providing law enforcement agencies with a comprehensive record of a suspect or convict, which would help them with investigations.

The Prison Management Information System (PMIS) was initially developed by the CPLC in 2001, under which a jail information system was developed. This was been implemented and computerised to integrate all functions of Sindh jail at all levels. The PMIS software is the latest and state-of-the-art information technology available to help the management, at all levels, including planning, critical analysis, monitoring, decision-making and execution of day-to-day operation.

The requirements of the prison department were reanalysed after the implementation of the PMIS system. Subsequently, the new automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS)-based integrated software was developed with different modules set to perform particular functions, including profile of inmates, prisoner information, prisoner property, prisoner medical information, prisoner enrolment (capturing of fingerprint & image), crime detail, court history, remission system, release diary, search engine, prisoner identification / verification, visitor monitoring – access control system, user privileges, data import export module and dial up module.

Due to the lack of such a system, convicts would often be released earlier than their stipulated term with the help of false names and release orders.

A senior officer, on the condition of anonymity, told The News that the government is interested in adopting newer technologies to help coordinate investigations and share intelligence, thereby addressing long-standing issues of security. There are also suggestions that the scope of this system would soon be broadened to turn it into a country-wide database.

In Sindh, over 3,000 inmates are confined in 21 jails of the province, out of which two-thirds are under trail. Sources said that information about these inmates would not only be computerised, but access to this data would be provided to the judiciary, thereby reducing the number of adjournments granted by judges and magistrates. It is also expected that email links to defence lawyers would expedite advance disclosures and reduce the number of adjournments granted.

Since fingerprints are viewed as the most reliable method of establishing identification, AFIS will be a constituent part of the new system, and access to this would be made available to custody and investigation units where timely identification is critical. The availability of standard-based wide-area network means that all AFISs can be linked together, providing on-line access to all fingerprints stored in the database.

The police officer informed The News that the software would compile the complete record of an inmate, making it difficult for him to be released on a false identity.

The system would also curtail the escapes from courts, as jail police would have complete information of the escapees enabling them to catch the suspects easily.

The system would also help increase court production of prisoners, and maintain a record of the prisoner’s appearances in court. The system would also maintain records of a prisoner’s jail meetings along with their medical history.

The police officer said that often, release orders are issued for inmates after they complete their terms or are even exonerated, but jail staff demand a handsome bribe to release them. If the inmate fails to deliver the amount, then their release is further delayed and the matter turns into one of illegal detention.

Through this system, however, whenever the court issues release orders, the information would come on record and instances of corruption would be reduced. Similarly, a record of items which the inmate was carrying when he was lodged in jail would also be maintained, and these items would be returned to the inmate on his release.

Ebad, Malik and Kamal in Dubai for talks on Local Bodies


The major legislators of MQM including Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan and city Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal have also rushed to Dubai.
Reports are pouring in that Interior Minister Rehman Malik is also present there and they all have gone to attend a wedding ceremony but some vital decisions are to take place there also in a closed door meeting regarding the placement of administrator for Karachi while the local governments have been dissolved.
Other issues to be discussed include funds promised by the President Asif Ali Zardari for the development of Karachi.
Dr Asim Hussain, who was also scheduled to leave for Dubai but could not leave due to his other engagements, said that now it is the prerogative of provincial government to appoint a political administrator or one from the bureaucracy. When asked whether Mustafa Kamal will be retained as administrator Karachi as he is also present in Dubai, he said that it is now in the power of provincial government.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

POL prices cut on SC order


* Petrol price now Rs 50.58 per litre, HOBC Rs 62.54, kerosene oil Rs 52.89 and light diesel oil Rs 51.46

ISLAMABAD: The government reduced the prices of petroleum products on Tuesday after the Supreme Court temporarily suspended the implementation of the carbon surcharge and directed the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) earlier in the day to issue a notification.

According to an OGRA notification issued late on Tuesday, the government has withdrawn the carbon tax and reduced POL prices that would come into effect today (Wednesday).

According to the notification, petrol prices have been reduced by Rs 11.55 per litre to Rs 50.58 from 62.13, a reduction of 18.6 percent; HOBC prices by Rs 16.24 per litre to Rs 62.54 from 78.78, a reduction of 20 percent; kerosene oil prices by Rs 6.46 per litre to Rs 52.89 from Rs 59.35, a reduction of 11 percent; and light diesel oil prices by Rs 3.48 per litre to Rs 51.46 from Rs 54.94, a reduction of 6.33 percent.

Earlier on Tuesday, a three-member bench – headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – said the implementation of the carbon tax would remain suspended until a final decision in the case, and then adjourned proceedings until July 9.

PPP Senator Rukhsana Zubairi and PML-N Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra had filed separate petitions challenging the increase in petroleum prices.

In its short order, the court said as the government had made no effort to protect the environment through carbon tax, it had no right to charge people for the facility.

The court also summoned the environment secretary at the next hearing for an explanation on whether the ministry had proposed the carbon tax.

Appearing on notice, Attorney General Latif Khosa told the court that the government had to impose the tax in order to overcome the budget deficit.

The chief justice, however, observed that such decisions were not in accordance with good governance.

A judicial commission had earlier presented its interim report on rising oil prices in the country and proposed a “fair and proper cut” in petroleum prices.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bail plea in forex scam case dismissed



KARACHI: The SHC dismissed bail applications of the three directors of M/s Khanani and Kalia International in a money laundering case on Monday.

A division bench comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Safdar Ali Bhutto pronounced the order, which was earlier reserved on the applications of Muhammad Hanif Kalia, Abdul Munaf Kalia and Javed Khanani. Their counsel M Farogh Naseem stated that a challan was submitted in the case tried by the sessions court in Karachi functioning as tribunal under the Foreign Exchange Act. He said that FIA forcibly recorded statements of witnesses which had glaring contradictions, adding that in the light of the sessions court judgement, statements of the witnesses recorded by the prosecuting agency US161 CrPC were not admissible in court of law. Special Prosecutor Shahab Sarki opposed the plea stating that investigations were still in progress and grant of bail at this stage will hamper probe, he added.

The court order stated that at this stage it finds it premature to interfere with the impugned order. In its view, the prosecution has made out a prima facie case against the applications and as such bail is denied to applicants. ppi

Monday, July 6, 2009

Minor girl molested, killed; 2 police men arrested

KARACHI: A minor girl was allegedly molested, tortured, killed and her body was thrown into a sewerage water drain, from where it was taken out, in the city yesterday.
Two police men were arrested on charges of kidnapping and killing the child and a case was registered against them. The accused persons are scheduled to be presented in court today for permission to take their physical remand.
Sindh Minister for Human Rights Nadia Khan Gabol yesterday took serious notice of the case and directed CCPO Karachi to conduct transparent inquiry into the matter and bring accused before justice.
According to details, the dead body of Sana, a three-and-half year old daughter of Qasim Bengali, was missing for about last three days from Zaman Town and was found from a sewerage drain near Gora Qabristan, Defense, near Shahrah-e-Faisal yesterday.
It was also said that when the two traffic police men entered in their house in neighborhood, a five-year old girl, reportedly a friend of the said minor girl Sana, told people that she had seen the missing girl with them. The angry residents of the area caught the accused persons and started beating them. Police men reached to the spot and arrested the accused persons who were later locked up at Zaman Town police station.
The accused persons claimed they did not kill the child and found the body in the water tank of their house and out of fear they had thrown the dead body in a sewerage drain. Police and Edhi volunteers on indication of the accused persons, found the body from there.
Police said that the incident occurred in Noorani Basti, Chakra Goth, Korangi-2 1/2, Zaman Town, that they have arrested Noor Mohammed and Basheer Ahmed, traffic police constables, and a case was registered at the police station.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

FEMALES UNDER THE TRAFFIC SIGNALS

By Faraz Ahmed Munis

Significance of efficient traffic control can not be denied because of the complicated traffic flow in the metropolitan cities like Lahore. To improve the complex traffic flow the department decided to introduce new personnel consisting of both males and females. The novelty in the whole process was the recruitment of females in the Traffic Police Department. However, the induction of females is not the sole factor to ensure a better traffic pattern but it is one of the important means to achieve the goal. The induction of females in Traffic Police Department is entirely a new phenomenon introduced in Pakistan. Different societies have different tendencies towards the females joining those jobs which are labeled as “men’s job”. Society like Pakistan has different opinions regarding females’ jobs.

It is appeared that majority of the lady traffic wardens belong to medium income category, so salary, rank and designation turned out to be three significant features in the job that led females to join this arduous job. Lady Wardens and their families considered the job prestigious, but the level of public acceptance is not reasonable which creates hurdles for females in deciding to pursue the job or not. This low level of public acceptance might be because of low literacy rate and the prevailing pre-conceived notions (like women should stay at home or at the most should do office jobs) in our society. It can also become a traumatic factor for females to get prestige which can affect their professional commitment.

Public acceptance is a decisive factor in joining a job for females. Lady Wardens have the view point that literacy level is a distinctive factor for a better public acceptance level. Moreover, the cultural and religious notions attached with working women are a barrier for them to be accepted by the masses. Moreover, public acceptance is a factor that directly or indirectly influences the prestige and authority of the female workers.

Keeping in view the Pakistan’s society the recruitment of females is a radical change, where public is not ready to accept this drastic change abruptly. Although lady traffic wardens are fully facilitating the public in traffic affairs, also educating them about traffic rules and regulations even then the department has not achieved the consent of the general public as far as accepting women as traffic controllers is concerned. The deep rooted pre-conceived notions have restricted females in gaining a respectable and honorable status in our society. As we all have an egalitarian perception that traffic police department is the most corrupt in its nature and uncivilized in behavior, it can substantially affect the performance of lady traffic wardens and it’s a very hard job to get rid of such malicious image.
Induction of women in Traffic Police Department, which is primarily a male-dominated sector, is a new observable fact for masses. The job encompasses both pros and cons for women willing to enter and who are engage in the job. Positive aspect is that it is a new dimension for women empowerment, which can open new paths for women to step on and can explore their abilities and skills. Moreover, if they can compete with men and can go along in the professional field, which is male-oriented. However, the negative side to it is the dire need of satisfactory public acceptance. Poor public acceptance can severely cripple the morale of lady traffic wardens and of the women aspiring to enter in the job.

Giving a new opportunity to women and then receiving warm response from them clearly indicated they have a desire to gain authority and prestige from the job. They also get inclined to those jobs, which are prestigious and authoritative in nature. The lack of opportunity for those jobs, which include prestige and authority, might be the reason they did not opt for any such occupation. Furthermore, the introduction of this new concept woman controlling the traffic on roads is a social change, which will take some time to be properly accepted by the public because radical changes brings about radical reactions and this step was one of those. Conclusively, it is a positive step towards the women empowerment. It is a source of inspiration for upcoming women.

There are certain recommendations for the improvement of the departmental structure. In order to facilitate the lady traffic wardens, policies can be devised for the positive influence on the prestige and authority of lady traffic wardens also how public consent can be achieved which can eventually help the authorities in making the department a better institution.
1. Department should raise public acceptance through different means like arranging seminars, publishing articles, advertisement on print and electronic media and orientation to community people.

2. Lady traffic wardens should be provided better facilities while standing at the roads to prevent themselves from the extensive weather conditions and pollution.

3. Renovation and the construction of the sectors is a dire need as it will provide them more comfort and improve the efficiency of the work.

4. While standing on the point of duties, lady traffic wardens should be given proper security by the department to prevent them from the harassment of public.

5. Discrimination from the seniors should be reduced as they are not fully satisfied with the behavior of higher authority.

6. The official work should switch to digital system i.e. computerized system from the manual system, it will make official working more efficient.

7. To increase the authority, lady traffic wardens should be provided with weapons to defend themselves and public in any mishap but with the proper training of how to use the weapons.

Email:fraz.ahmed@hotmail.com