Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dormant and flawed curriculum of Punjab a cause of concern

By Fraz Ahmed Munis

Being a student of sociology, I have observed a lot of follies in our Punjab Text Book Board curriculum. If I go into the detail, about the existing course contents of intermediate there are a lot of things that reflect poorly.

It is shocking that since 1987 to 2008, the date of birth and death of Faiz Ahmed Faiz was incorrect. All the textbooks and helping books are the example of this disgraceful act and it is humiliating for those who are considered the ‘mentors’ and are selected for the accomplishment of curriculum.

What sort of message do we extract from such careless and irresponsible educationists? Such types of blunders indicate that our curriculum is neither scrutinized nor authenticated.

Apparently the technical, experienced and skillful teachers are being ignored and are being denied the opportunity to impart their services for the construction of the course content or the resource material for the textbooks.

The fabrication of our curriculum is illogical and it contains the poisonous ingredients which are becoming a colossal menace to the structure of education and requirements of the learners and society.

If we read the course contents of Urdu and English in intermediate, it is pathetic, ridiculous and disgusting. How we are brutally treating our educational system is revealed when we see the Urdu poems, fictions and short stories translated into English and being included in English textbook.

The stories written by Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and Ghulam Abbas have not been completely reproduced. Obviously the incomplete story cannot covey the message in totality.

I fail to comprehend what’s the need to have the stories of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and Ghulam Abbas both in English and Urdu textbooks. What great our planners expect by repeating the same things?

The translation should have been avoided in prose as well as poetry. The verses are completely depleted with their actual spirit and essence. These verses are translated in such hilarious way that their original context and meanings have been completely lost.

What on earth compels our policy makers to do such childish acts as reveal their sheer ignorance and incompetence? The English literature is replete with shining and appealing writers, then, why we do inculcate our local literature into English irrationally. Every language has its own aesthetics and the inclusion of the translated pieces humiliate the sanctity of the languages and make it ugly.

There is a chapter Tashkeel-e-Pakistan in Urdu textbook, covering the Freedom Movement of Pakistan which is totally the same as being taught in Pakistan Studies too.

Why this repetition is? Has the Urdu literature nothing more informative to teach? Or the Urdu literature lacks depth? The repetition and irrelevant amendments in the curriculum should be avoided while promoting the educational culture.

The curriculum of any educational system is the symbol of “Justification for Existence” and “Mental Integration”, but we appear to be using it as an agent of social disintegration and mental fixation.

Three things are very important while designing a curriculum; Structure and nature of knowledge, need of learner and need of society.

There is a dire need for the construction of logical curriculum which truly reflects the presentation of philosophy of education leading towards goals and aims, specific instructional objectives and outcomes, task analysis and appropriate content selection and availability of genuine learning ecologies.

Now, it is the time for the serious speculations and prompt decisions for the planning of our curriculum. We should have to exempt the blurred and irrelevant contents. Subjects like biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics are very lengthy according to their time span, because from mid September to the end of March, these subjects cannot be injected into the minds of the students.

It can be made possible only because of teachers’ chauvinism and agony. Students have to carry this heavy load because if they refuse to carry this weight they will be declared as the deviants.

We have to avert the growing false perception about the irrational dichotomy of education and productive works. There is urgent need to take some timely measures to make our curriculum, ‘Demand-oriented’. “Academia liaison” with industry should be made possible in the course contents. Accessibility of updated texts, references, materials and degree of availability of novel studies should be induced.

Education plays its role in transmitting two different ways of thinking; the subject matter or discipline content of course( what to think) and the correct way to understand and evaluate this subject matter ( how to think).

But unfortunately in Pakistan, the respective academic disciplines cannot be set on the basis of proper thinking, sincerity, commitment and coordination. Our policy makers and curriculum setters go inconsistent and never bother to take a serious look on the deteriorated and dilapidated educational system. And, by the way, why do they take a headache for the betterment of education because their own children are mostly too far away from this miserable education system. Isn’t it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Drug smuggling: accused remanded in police custody

KARACHI: Judicial Magistrate of a local court of Karachi Tuesday remanded in police custody till June 27, the three alleged accused involved in deceitfully smuggling drugs into Saudi Arabia—Sarwat Hussain, his wife Shafia and son Faraz Hussain.

All three accused were presented to the court belatedly in the afternoon. Special Public Prosecutor and investigative officers told the court that all three accused belonged to an organized coterie involved in smuggling drugs abroad, adding their activities earned bad name for Pakistan.

The officials said the investigations with these people aimed at nabbing the other people of their group, therefore, they demanded for 14-day remand.

The accused opined that Al-Huda Travel Agency has nothing to do with this, nor are they involved in the drug smuggling.

They told that Az-Zohra Trust provided the slippers to the pilgrims and they are responsible for the whole episode.

The court remanded the accused into police custody till June 27 for further investigation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Surprise dope test of Shahid Afridi

LONDON: The officials of International Cricket Council (ICC) conducted surprise dope test of Shahid Afridi at the end of T20 World Cup. The test is a part of ICC routine and any player could be call for the test. This time Shahid Afridi was called for the test. Afridi had an ankle injury and will return home after treatment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Frenchmen killed in Karachi ‘over submarine money’:

CHERBOURG: A probe into the 2002 killing of 11 French engineers in Pakistan is focusing on France’s failure to pay a commission for the sale of submarines to Pakistan; a lawyer for the victims’ families was quoted as saying, claim a report of a foreign news agency.
The lawyer, Olivier Morice, said former president Jacques Chirac and former premier Edouard Balladur had been mentioned in the decision to halt the payments.
Morice spoke after two French anti-terrorist investigating magistrates had met with families of the engineers killed in the attack on May 8, 2002 in Karachi. A car packed with explosives was driven into a minibus carrying the Frenchmen, all engineers working for a French state firm, DCN, which was building submarines for Pakistan. The 11 engineers and three Pakistanis were killed.
Investigators had been looking into an Al-Qaeda link to the attack.
But Morice told media: ‘The Al-Qaeda track has been totally abandoned. The motive for the attack appears linked to the non-payment of commissions.’
Morice said the payments were stopped when Chirac became president in 1995 because he wanted to stop part of the money financing the campaign of Balladur, who was his political rival on the French right at the time.
Magali Drouet, a daughter of one of the men killed, quoted one of the anti-terrorist judges, Marc Trevidic, as telling the families that this theory was ‘cruelly logical’.
She added that according to this scenario, the attack was carried out because the special payments were not made by France to Pakistani government officials.
High-ranking politicians would likely be called in to testify, said Morice. Details of the payments emerged in 2008 as part of an investigation into French arms sales.
Police seized documents from the French firm, now known as DCNS, which discussed the companies used to pay fees in connection with arms sales.
One unsigned document spoke of Pakistan intelligence services using militants.-

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bulls return to Karachi Stocks, KSE 100 Index surges by 203 points

KARACHI: Bearish trend ended at Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) on Wednesday as fresh buying pushed the benchmark KSE-100 Index up by 203 points to close at 7,075.

The stock market opened upbeat and the major Index remained in the green throughout the session as investors took fresh positions in various stocks.

The trade volume improved to 90 million shares today.

OGDC emerged as today’s volume leader which gained Rs2.58 to close at Rs72.75.

KSE-30 Index surged by 259 points to finish the day at 7,539.

Meeting with arrested Pakistanis today

JEDDAH: Acting Ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia Muhammed Sarfraz Khan Wednesday said that consular access to the arrested Pakistanis at Jeddah airport will be given today.

Talking to Geo News, he said he received information regarding heroin recovered from the Pakistani family, after which the Pakistan embassy requested the Saudi officials for consular access to the arrested Pakistani family.

‘We have not contacted the affected family as yet,’ he said.

Noting could be said regarding the timeframe for the release of the arrested Pakistani family, as such cases take a long time in Saudi Arabia, the acting Pakistani ambassador added.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Extremists buying children to use as bombers: Rehman Malik

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said the government is determined to continue the war against terrorism till the Taliban are flushed out of the country. He said that the terrorists were using children for their barbarous terrorist activities, adding a suicide bomber was paid Rs500,000 to Rs2.5 million from terrorist outfits.
He was speaking at an award distribution ceremony for martyred and other police officials at the National Library Auditorium here on Monday. The minister said the government has decided to increase the police strength, and 20,000 more personnel would be recruited in the Capital Police to overcome the shortage of the force.

He said the Chinese government would provide security equipment to the tune of $280 million to Pakistan for capacity building of the law-enforcement agencies. He said the Chinese government has made this commitment during his recent visit to China. He said gadgets would include vehicular scanners, mobile scanners and other items required for security purposes. He said different donors have pledged to give an amount of $65 million for capacity building and improvement in the police department. He said weapons and ammunition were being supplied to terrorists from Afghanistan and the government of Pakistan had taken up this matter with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He appreciated the performance of the police department, especially, the Capital Police, for curbing the incidents of terrorism and for nabbing the potential terrorists.

He paid tribute to ‘Shuhada’ of suicide attack on Rescue 15 in Islamabad and said he would request the prime minister to bestow Quaid-i-Azam Police Award upon them. He announced plots in Islamabad for the families of police officials who embraced ‘Shahadat’ during the last 10 years and payment of full salary to their families up to the age of 60. He said duty hours of the Capital Police will be reduced and they would be given uniform allowance, vehicles for pick and drop and APCs.Earlier, the minister distributed medals, certificates, and cash prizes among police officers and officials for their outstanding performance.

Police officers and officials received prizes included: SP Nasar Aftab, SP Sajjid Kiyani, SP Saqib Sultan, ASPs Muntazir Mehdi, Liaquat Ali Malik, Farukkah Rashid, DSPs Liaquat Hayat Niazi, Ehasanullah (CID), Bashir Ahmed Noon (CIA), Inspectors, Ashraf Shah, Abdul Razzaq, Arshad Ali, Muhammad Auqab, Muhammad Baqir, Tahir Hussain, SIs Munir Jaffery, Muhammad Sharif, Shahid Mehmud, Muhammad Yasin, ASIs Nadeem Mughal, Ansar Mehmud, Muhammad Rashid, HCs Raza Ahmed, M. Arif, Fida Hussain, Wajid Ali Shah, Atif, Constables Mehtab Hussain and Noor Ahmed.

The minister also distributed shields among Islamabad Chief Commissioner Fazeel Asghar, DIG (operations) Bin Yameen and SSP (traffic) Dr Sultan Azam Temuri. Speaking on the occasion, Islamabad IG Syed Kaleem Imam said the Capital Police were committed to protecting the life and property of the citizens. He said despite deficiency of staff and resources, including transport and accommodation, the Capital Police were showing best performance. He, however, called for more facilities for the police department, including provision of modern equipment, to enable them cope with terrorism. He expressed his thanks to the prime minister and the interior minister for giving raise in salaries of police officials and provision of other facilities.

Agencies add: Rehman Malik said terrorists were targeting innocent people and they have no link with Islam. Every citizen having Pakistani passport were being considered as terrorists in the world. The terrorists have tarnished the image of Islam and Pakistan, he added.

Anti-state elements were buying children and making them suicide bombers, he said and added the terrorists were using civilian as human shield. “We had two options either to surrender before the terrorists or fight with them and now terrorists were bound to run from Swat, Dir and Buner,” he said. He warned the terrorists to lay down their arms otherwise they would be killed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Impact of mobile phones on our youth

By Fraz Ahmed Munis
Globalization has many aspects. It contains important discursive aspects in the form of ideologically charged narratives that put before the public a particular agenda of topics for discussion, question to ask and claims to make.

The whole world is accepting and adopting the ways towards the advancement of technology. The youth is playing a vital role in this rapid pace. The strong and mighty cultures are toppling the frail ones.

Unfortunately the countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have strong cultural values, norms and customs that are easily fettered by the western cultural onslaught. Our youth is concentrating on some bad choices.

In this global village, firstly our youth was allured to divert their attention towards the internet. They have changed a lot by the usage of internet. A few of them have inclined for knowledge, information, awareness and exposure but the majority of them appear to have misused the internet.

To some extent, people were done up and vexed with internet but due to the ensconsment of cellular technology all gaps have been bridged for the destruction of youth.

The telecommunication companies in our country have been inclined towards introducing new and attractive packages for youth like Mobilink (ladies first, happy hours), Warid (zem series), Ufone (public demand, prepay life panch ka pandra, u circle) Telenor (talkshawk Aone, djuice) and Zong’s life package.

The question arises why these companies are introducing these packages without the social mobilization to check the mindset of the youth. Are they trying to facilitate the common man or only youth? I think except on very urgent occasions ordinarily no one would like to talk after midnight.

All necessary and normal interactions can be dealt with during daytime but the companies offer the packages that start after end of family or business communication. My feeling is that these packages are more likely to spoil and ravage our youth than to do anything else.

In our youth segment the majority is student community that is spell bounded by these packages. They are losing the essence of their profession/studies. They are derailing and deviating themselves. They are getting away from their goals, destinies and motives. Their minds are becoming stagnant and static. Creativity and innovation is blocked by the consistent telephonic conversations spread over the whole of night.

They are losing their interest towards the interactions and sociality. Alienation is increasing within small community or groups of people. In one room four roommates are strangers to one another. They never try to tie up the relation because they don’t have a pinch of time.

By talking whole night with opposite sex, they are getting psychologically weak and pressured. There are many other physical distortions also arising due to spending the precious time which is needed compulsory rest, relaxation, relief and mental health.

Due to spending whole nights the absenteeism is skyrocketing in every profession. They are going far and far away from the hold of families. They tell lies and have false communication with their parents.

They are betraying the decisions, trust and expectations of their parents. They are traveling towards the lone parent family system in which one is not accountable to anyone and he is the only decision maker. Such kind of behavior is leading towards the social fragmentation and terrible decline of moral values in which respect is core one.

They are crossing the restraints and limitations, very essential for the well integrated society. Due to the bogus projection of the companies their effectiveness and determination is diminishing if we put a furtive glimpse on the chart of protests and rallies conducted against the negative policies, the ratio of youth’ contribution is at minor level and seems vanished because they have engrossed in making affairs and spending their potential and energy to locate the suitable packages.

Their mental approach is revolving around sexual satisfaction. Other emotions and sentiments are pushed oblivion, there are forgetting that there are so many matters that need their kind attention.

They have obsessed devoid of manners and healthy attitude to other requisites and needs. It is obliterating the mental capacity and concentration of the youth like plague.

There is a critical and pathetic state prevailing over the sky of our nation. The whole nation is passing through the chaos, disturbance and mental incapacitation. We are not realizing that what is worth of our youth? That’s why we ourselves are paving the way for our youth towards the devastation and shoving them into fire.

The mobile companies have every right to work out innovative packages offering greater value of money to their customers. But they should not making profits by compromising on the interests of the young generation.

Operation Rah-e-Rast launched to bring astray people on track: COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani

ISLAMABAD: The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani said we do not need foreign advice about the ongoing operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’ which is launched to bring the astray people on the right track (Rah-e-Rast).

Talking to media, army chief said no one could understand our country better than us and the best possible result could be evolve in the present situation for long term betterment. There is a difference between conventional war and present war. In the ongoing war, it is difficult to distinguish friends and enemies.

General Kayani said this is not the war of Islam and Baitullah Mahsud and Fazllulah are not religious scholars. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, its base is Islam and it would remain exist. Our sacrifices could be successful if Malakand affectees return back to their homes.

Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman at this occasion said enemies are targeting our children, elders and scholars. The extremists are trying to impose their philosophy on the country. Pakistan Air Force’s performance is exemplary in war against extremism.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dr Sarfraz Naeemi among 5 martyred in Lahore blast

LAHORE: At least five people including Jamia Naeemia principal Dr Sarfraz Naeemi were martyred and eight others injured in a suicide blast at Jamia Naeemia situated in Garhi Shahu area of Lahore, Geo News reported Friday.

The blast occurred after the Friday prayers when the people were making their way out of the mosque after offering the Friday prayers. A lot of people were present in the mosque at the time of blast.

Jamia Naeemia principal Dr Sarfraz Naeemi was present at his office at the Jamia Naeemia at the time of blast, the eyewitnesses said adding he was meeting with the people and students at his office; in the meantime, the suicide bomber blew himself up.

The blast was so powerful that the outer walls of the Jamia Naeemia Masjid collapsed and he nearby buildings were harmed in the blast.

The injured Maulana Naeemi was rushed to the hospital; however, he succumbed to the injuries on the way to the hospital.

The deceased include his close associate Dr Khalilur Rehman.

The personnel of the security forces cordoned off the area and started the relief operation.

The injured were rushed to the Meo Hospital. Emergency has been declared in the hospitals of the Lahore.

The security forces are searching the building on the apprehension of another bomb.

DCO Lahore Sajjad Bhutta said the Maulana was provided with the proper security.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

35 hurt in Bolan Express blast

NASEERABAD: At least 35 others were injured in the blast in Bolan Express, Geo News reported Thursday.

Bolan Express was on way from Karachi to Quetta. The blast occurred in coach-3.

The relief workers arrived on the spot and the injured are being rushed to the hospitals. An injured is in critical condition.

According to railway officials, the blast occurred in Bolan area of Colpur.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

11 killed in Pearl Continental blast in Peshawar

* Attackers fire at security guards from one vehicle, blow up second inside hotel’s compound
* 60 injured, 2 foreigners including Russian UN official among dead

PESHAWAR: A massive truck bomb ripped through the five-star Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar on Tuesday killing 11 people and wounding 60.

The attackers entered the compound on two vehicles at about 10:30pm, spraying the security guards at the hotel gate with bullets from one and blowing up the other in the hotel parking.

“It was a suicide attack,” city police chief Sefwat Ghayur told AFP. “There are two foreigners among the dead,” provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said. He did not reveal their nationalities.

A witness said he first heard shooting and then there was loud bang that left the area in thick smoke. The explosion was followed by a power failure.

Forty vehicles parked in the compound were destroyed and the building was seriously damaged. A large crater was seen in the parking area. A portion of the building was completely destroyed.

The explosion was heard several kilometres away from the site and shook nearby buildings, shattering the windows of many of them.

Khyber Road is a sensitive locality with the NWFP Assembly and several government and military buildings.

A number of foreigners, most of them associated with aid agencies, were staying in the hotel.

UN official: A private TV channel said the dead included UNHCR official Alexander Joseph from Russia. Sixteen other UNHCR officials were injured and one was missing. The injured also included an official from the World Food Programme, another from the World Health Organisation and two from UNICEF, it said. Another TV channel said a foreign female journalist was also injured.

Edhi sources claimed receiving dead bodies of three foreigners.

News channels said that hotel manager Kamal Ahmad was missing. Two PIA hostesses were also injured and a captain was missing.

A Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) official told reporters at least 500 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack.

Police cordoned off the area following the explosion and closed Khyber Road for traffic. The hotel was evacuated and an emergency was imposed in Peshawar’s hospitals.

There were unconfirmed reports that employees of a private American company had hired a portion of the hotel.

The NWFP information minister condemned the attack and told a private TV channel it would not affect his government’s resolve against the Taliban.

Most of the injured were hotel employees and were taken to Lady Reading Hospital.

The Associated Press said US officials were in negotiations to make the premises an American consulate. Citing two senior US officials in Washington, it said the State Department had been in negotiations with the hotel’s owners to either purchase the facility or sign a long-term lease there to house a new American consulate in Peshawar. The officials said they were not aware of any sign that US interest in the compound had played a role in it being targeted.

Lou Fintor, spokesman for the US Embassy in Islamabad, said all diplomatic personnel were accounted for. “At this point we have no reports that any Americans were at the scene,” he said.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack and grieved the loss of innocent lives, and resolve to continue the government’s commitment to eradicate terrorism.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pak military has the capability, capacity to crush insurgency in Swat, adjoining areas: Masood Khan

The Pakistan army has the capacity and capability to protect the sovereignty, independence of its mother land as well as to crush the threat of terrorism, said Ambassador Masood Khan in a television interview here. Participating at CCTV Asia Today’s programme on Monday, while responding to a question, he made it clear that it is wrong to say that we have succeeded to recapture the Swat valley or Malakand areas. In fact, the valley and all parts of the region were always with us. What the army did was to confront the elements who had challenged the writ of the state.
“As the defiance from militants became too aggressive, too outrageous, the government decided to send army into these areas to flush them out”, he said.

Khan said that local government had a peace agreement with the militants, but they defied it. As a last resort it was decided to take them out as well as to dismantle the apparatus that was supporting them.

“We are determined to eliminate militants from our soil to ensure peace and stability” as these outlaws were posing threat not only to Pakistan, but to the entire neighborhood.

Regarding continuous bomb attacks by militants, in spite of the fact that army is achieving successes in Swat valley, Khan said these acts on the part of militants were in retaliation to the army operation.

“Militants are targeting civilians and government institutions. Our security forces are vigilant. Security arrangement has been strengthened”, he said.

He said that government is working on 3-pronged strategy to face the threat of militancy: anti-militancy operation; humanitarian relief for the internally displaced persons; and win over the moderate but misguided elements who were supporting the Taliban.

On displaced persons, he said that the figure of IDP had reached a staggering 3.3million and was growing.

However, Khan said, Pakistan is determined to provide food, shelter, health, education and to meet their daily needs, but it was so massive, that my country could not manage it by its own resources, therefore Pakistan had asked the international community for help.

In this regard, he specially mentioned the Chinese government and the people for coming forward in a big way to elevate the suffering of the IDPS.

He said that to meet by our own resources, the Pakistan Embassy here had also organized a Meena Bazaar Fundraiser on Sunday, and the Chinese as well as member of the international community participated in it in a big way.

The anchor person of the programme Zhou meanwhile said that Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has expressed the resolve to flush these elements which is a good sign for Pakistan .

Sindh Cabinet discusses ongoing spate of target killings

KARACHI: The ongoing spate of target killings in the city had so far claimed 31 lives, Sindh Cabinet which met here today under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Syed Qaim Alil Shah, was informed during discussion on obtaining law and order situation.
Briefing newsmen about the Cabinet proceedings, Sindh Minister for Information Shazia Marri said the Cabinet expressed concern over continued target killings in the city and said the Provincial Home
Minister Dr. Zulfikar Mirza will be holding a meeting with IGP, CCPO and heads of other law enforcing organizations to review the situation. She said the Chief Minister, too, has convened a meeting to be held today at 5 p.m. to solely focus on law and order. The Home Minister, she said, told the Cabinet that situation has remained sensitive since June 1 and those 31 killed so far belonged to various political parties.
She said that government effort is to assure strict monitoring in various areas through the meetings of Core Committee and help improve the law and order situation.
She said that situation had been quite disturbing in Landhi, Shah Faisal Colony and Malir areas where police deployment has been increased from 2000 to 3000 cops besides an increase in the number of Rangers as well. Shazia Marri said that the Cabinet was of the view that there is need to improve the political reconciliation process and for this purpose it was imperative that all the political parties which are part of Sindh Government take a united stand to control law and order. She said the Chief Minister asked all the political parties to strive together to overcome law and order situation.

Why Taliban cannot take over Pakistan

* For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, Taliban represent neither the threat often portrayed, nor the inevitable victors that the West fears

The Taliban are within 60 miles of Islamabad, it was reported. And David Kilcullen, a counter-insurgency expert, said that Pakistan could collapse within six months. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said if the country were to fall, the Taliban would have the “keys to the nuclear arsenal”. Senator John Kerry warned: “The government has to ratchet up the urgency.”

The military has since launched a major counteroffensive that has sent nearly 3 million people fleeing their homes. Yet Pakistani analysts and officials believe that the infamous threat of an imminent Taliban takeover is overblown.

True, the Taliban threat remains serious. They maintain a presence in more than 60 percent of the northwestern Pakistan and control significant sections along the Afghan border.

But even if the current operation stalls, or the Taliban return to the areas they’ve been ousted from, a Christian Science Monitor report concludes, they may not significantly expand their footprint in the country anytime soon. For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, they represent neither the immediate threat that is often portrayed, nor the inevitable victors that the West fears.

“The Taliban have been able to operate in certain [mountainous areas] because of the terrain and the sympathy factor,” says Rifat Hussain of Quaid-e-Azam University. “The moment they begin to move out of the hideouts, they are exposed. If you have 100 truckloads of Taliban on the Peshawar Highway, all you need is two helicopter gunships” to wipe them out.

Coming down from the hills would also expose the Taliban to a more secular, urban world that views them as “a bunch of mountain barbarians”.

It’s a common saying these days that all Taliban are Pashtuns, but not all Pashtuns are Taliban.

The grievances that the Taliban exploit, such as unemployment and tribal feudalism, are not as prevalent even in Haripur. Lush farmland and an industrial centre support relative prosperity.

The notion of a Taliban conquest of Pakistan also bumps up against some simple arithmetic. The Taliban in Swat numbered 5,000, and the total from all factions in Pakistan is estimated in the tens of thousands, at most. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, numbers more than half a million. Until the latest counteroffensive, some analysts questioned the military’s resolve in fighting the insurgency. But the counteroffensive in Swat has convinced many that the Army is serious. The mass displacement of civilians offers grim confirmation of heavy engagement.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Karachi target killings toll reaches to 19

(Updated at: 0915 PST)

KARACHI: A slew of gun attacks and sporadic incidents of violence claimed 3 more lives in the provincial metropolis on Sunday night.

According to police sources, a man shot dead near Gol Market in Nazimabad whereas two others killed in Azizabad and Liaquatabad. The toll of target killing reaches to 19 during the past two days.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

TNSM naib ameer Muhammad Alam and spokesman Ameer Izzat Khan killed in militants attack

RAWALPINDI: The naib ameer of Tahreek-e-Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi(TNSM) Maulana Muhammad Alam and spokesman Ameer Izzat Khan have been killed during clash between security forces and militants in Sakhakot on Saturday morning.

According to ISPR, a security forces convoy carrying prisoners including Maulana Muhammad Alam and Ameer Izzat Khan attacked by militants in Sakhakot. The prisoners were being shifted from Malakand to Peshawar.

A non-commissioned officer of Pakistan army has been martyred and five other personnel hurt during intense trade of fire between security forces and militants. Maulana Alam and Ameer Izzat Khan were also killed during firing.