ISLAMABAD – The first ever painting exhibition ‘Colours of Democracy’ was inaugurated here Thursday at Parliament House displaying the works of 24 leading painters depicting country’s maturing parliamentary democracy.

Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza inaugurated the unique event held to commemorate the completion of fourth parliamentary year and beginning of fifth and last parliamentary year of the present National Assembly. All 24 artists from across the country gifted their masterpieces of art worth Rs 1.65 million to the Parliament to beautify its building and bridge a gap between the art world and the Parliament.

Addressing the exhibition, the Speaker said the democratic struggle in Pakistan has always remained under the strong influence of verses from Faiz and Jalib and strokes of Shakir Ali, Nagi, Zubaida Agha and Laila Shahzada. She said even an otherwise affluent painter like Gull Jee, when picked pebbles to translate Faiz’s Sheeshoun ka Maseeha’, he ended up painting Bhutto.

“Such strong anecdotes of our history however, have long remained missing from the corridors of power. An evident disconnect between the art world and parliament is reflected from the barren walls of its building,” she remarked.

Although Fehmida Mirza said, some of the leading maestros were duly involved in the initial renovation when Jamal Shah’s terracotta work and few paintings of Gull Jee were brought, this remained largely an exception.

“Politics was too crude to appreciate the finer details of art,” she commented adding the credit goes to the 13th National Assembly that has corrected the overdue errors of the past in shape of 18th, 19th and 20th amendment. The first ever group painting show is another daring step that showcases the spirit and zeal of our people in long pursuit to freedom, social justice and democracy, besides displaying the fruits of democracy.

The speaker hoped that the partnership between art world and parliament will grow in other vista of art and literature as well, mentioning to the establishment of a souvenir shop in Parliament House. “We are also looking into possibilities of developing post cards on the existing art in the Parliament and the proceeds from the sale of these cards can be utilised for buying more artworks for the building,” she said.

Among the painters whose work was displayed at the exhibition included late Rauf Khalid, Ahmad Habib, Ajab Khan, Altaf Ahmed, Arif Khan, Aqeel Solangi, Azeem Iqbal, Azeemullah Babar, Farrah Adnan, Hajra Mansoor, Mansoor Rahi, Mashkoor Raza, Ali Bhatti, Muhammad Shafiq, Nahida Raza, Natalia Tariq, Tariq Kakar, Raja Najam, Rasheed Butt, Najam Kazmi, Ali Abbas, Tahir Bin Qalandar, Tariq Javed and Wasi Hayder. Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Information Technology Pervaiz Ashraf and dozens of parliamentarians visited the exhibition and lauded painters’ works.

(The Nation)

ISLAMABAD – Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) held it its 5th convocation Thursday wherein as many as 1,287 graduates received degrees of M.Sc, M.Phil and Ph.D.

The students enrolled from 2005 to 2011 were awarded degrees in faculty of natural sciences, faculty of social sciences and faculty biological sciences. A total of 887 students of M.Sc, 281 of M.Phil and 115 of Ph.Ds received their degrees in the ceremony while 135 highest scorers were awarded Chancellor’s and President’s Gold Medals at the convocation.

Majority of the gold medals awarded by the university were bagged by the girl students and four girl students secured four medals each for their excellent performances at departmental, faculty and overall university level. Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari distributed the degrees and medals among graduates.

The Chairman Senate addressing the students said, “The country has no dearth of resources, but we are short in expertise for the optimum utilisation of those resources. Better management at all the tiers is a key to national development. To ensure this, we need people like you to come forward and take the lead in this respect. This is possible if you achieve human excellence and make your name in your respective fields.”

“I believe that democracy is the best system of governance for multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and pluralistic societies such as Pakistan’s, as it encourages participatory arrangements and accommodates opposing view. Both education and democracy are integral to each other as it allows people space for making informed and intelligent choices. The governments will continue to come and go but the system must stay intact for the larger good of state and society,” he maintained. Regarding the problems of the university highlighted by the Vice Chancellor in his address earlier, the Chairman Senate said: “I am well aware of the problems and challenges faced by the universities in general and QAU in particular. I assure the faculty and staff of the university that their demands will be given due consideration at the appropriate forum.”  He assured to try his level best that the employees get their Phase-2 Housing Scheme approved by the Prime Minister. It is a project which was started by former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in the year 1996. Moreover, he promised to make efforts to approve from Planning Commission the Phase-I of strengthening of QAU for which an approval was given in 2007 by the Prime Minister.

The university held the convocation after about six years still the ceremony was not impressive enough as the arrangement did not go well with the expectations and many students were seen complaining of poor arrangements by the administration. Each student was charged Rs.2000 for the convocation.  Though, out of them Rs. 700 were refundable and in fact every student paid Rs. 1300 still they were not served lunch but refreshment only that also many could not get, one of the students complained.

Many wanted to attend the ceremony with their parents but the university did not invite them that usually happen that parents are also invited to see their children getting degrees. Those who had secured their degrees with extra semesters could also not attend the degree awarding ceremony as only those who passed the exams in first attempt were allowed to attend the event.

The event ended 40 minutes before given time and many invited guests from other organizations who are member of Syndicate did not turn up despite making commitments to attend the event, might be due to strike and protest at the campus on April 27 after which the university was closed down.

Earlier, QAU Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Masoom Yasnzai in his welcome address said excellence has been the guiding principle of academic activities at QAU and almost 75 percent of the faculty holds doctorate degrees. Furthermore, they are actively engaged in high quality teaching and research and contribute articles to prestigious journals of international repute.

He said the university faculty and research scholars have made a significant contribution in science and technology, research and quality human resource development. Since its establishment, QAU has produced 853 PhDs, 5817 M.Phil scholars and 21435 MSc. in Natural, Social and Biological Sciences.

(The Nation)

RAWALPINDI : Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education will hold examinations of Intermediate classes (FA and FSc.), starting from May 08, 2012. Roll number slips have been issued to the candidates. Spokesman RBISE, Arsalan Ali Cheema, has directed the candidates to contact the special education centres organized in the respective Tehsils of the Rawalpindi Division, till today to rectify any mistakes in the roll-number slips or in case they have not got the roll-number slip at all.

(The Nation)

RAWALPINDI – Acting President Fire and Safety Association Pakistan Ghulam Muhammad Naz said that International Fire Fighters Day was a day marked to pay respect to the living rescuers and fire fighter whereas to pay homage to the martyrs who laid down their lives while protecting and rescuing their fellow human beings during the emergencies and disasters.

“We have all the praise for the tremendous sacrifices offered by all those brave fire fighters who could never be deterred by the blazing fire and disasters from time to time. Fire prevention and the need for more intensive and thorough training is one of the main aspects of International Fire Fighters Day,” he said, adding that fire fighters and their agencies around the world were constantly stressing fire prevention.

He expressed these views while addressing a ceremony held on Thursday in connection with IFFD.

The ceremony was attuned by Rescue 1122 rescuers and many other people belonging to various walks of life.

Ghulam said that the practice was not common in Pakistan focus for proper training was one that needs to be meet, and therefore IFFD is an opportunity to do exactly this.

“Individuals who seek out a career in fire fighting do not do so to become wealthy. Considering the personal risk and sacrifices fire fighters make on a regular basis, their salaries are relatively meagre. Many volunteer fire fighters provide their valuable services at no charge – just wanting to give back to their towns and cities while receiving on-the-job training” he said.

Needless to say, fighting fires was intense, difficult, and very dangerous work fire fighters exercised daily and participate in special training drills to ensure that they were physically ready to meet their arduous tasks when the alarm sounds, he added.

(The Nation)

ElBaradei: Egypt is not stableEgypt is a much more dominant influence on the Arab world than TunisiaProtester in Egypt have been able to make much more effective use of the internetEgypt has seen lower rates of unemployment in recent yearsMiddle classes have played a major role in protests in Egypt and Tunisia

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Egypt has been rocked by protests in recent days, only weeks after similar disturbances sparked revolution in Tunisia and forced then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

What similarities are there between the situation in Egypt and that in Tunisia?

Both nations have seen dramatic rises in the cost of living in recent years as well as accusations of corruption among the ruling elite.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has now been in power since 1981 — six years before ex-Tunisian ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced from office earlier this month, assumed the presidency of his country.

The protest movements in both nations have also been characterized by strong middle class elements. No surprise then that the dissent in Tunisia has inspired some demonstrators in Egypt.

But below the surface there are differences between these two North African nations.

Such as?

Tunisia, until the fall of Ben Ali, had a strictly controlled media, with severe restrictions on what could be reported.

The press in Egypt, in contrast is lively and often highly critical of the president and his government. Certainly the media is afforded much more freedom than its counterparts in Syria, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Tunisia.

Anti-government rallies are not uncommon in Egypt — but usually protesters are heavily outnumbered by the security forces. This week’s protests have been unusual because demonstrators on the streets of Cairo have outnumbered police.

Is there as much freedom on the internet in Egypt?

Yes. Egypt has a less restrictive approach to social media: Facebook is freely available and often used as a means to organize protests. Twitter has also been used as an organizing tool.

By contrast the previous Tunisian government took a more hardline attitude toward the web, closing down sites and forcing protesters to rely more heavily on cellphone SMS and word-of-mouth.

So have the protesters in Egypt made use of the internet?

Definitely, driving protests more so than in Tunisia. Two groups stand out.

The first is the Facebook group “We are All Khaled Said,” its name taken from an Alexandria activist who was allegedly beaten to death by police last year. It wants limits on the presidential term — Egypt faces an election later this year — and a raise in the minimum wage among other demands. By early Tuesday it had 90,000-plus users signed up.

The April 6 Movement, started in 2008 on Facebook to support striking workers, shares many of the same concerns and is similarly characterized by a strong following among the young of Egypt.

One political group that has been largely, though not totally, absent from the protests is the banned Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest organized opposition to the government.

It draws its support from the poorer members of society, especially in the slums of Cairo and also Upper Egypt, but also among professionals, such as lawyers and doctors. The Egyptian government frequently characterizes the Brotherhood as an extremist group and uses this — and the terror threat — as a reason for clampdowns on opposition.

Earlier in the week the Brotherhood said it would not be officially participating in protests but added it would not prevent its members from taking part.

On Thursday the Brotherhood called for its followers to demonstrate after Friday’s weekly prayers — the first time in the current round of unrest that the largest opposition bloc has told supporters to take to the streets.

The economy is clearly a factor in the unrest across North Africa. How do Egypt and Tunisia compare?

The Egyptian economy has been in better shape in recent years than its Tunisian counterpart and has key exports such as oil on which it can rely. It also depends heavily on tourism, and revenues from the Suez Canal.

Tunisia’s GDP grew by 3.4% in 2010 and 3% in 2009, compared to 5.3% and 4.6% during the same periods in Egypt, according to the CIA Factbook. Meanwhile the unemployment rate in Egypt stood at 9.7% last year, compared to 14% in Tunisia for the same period. In both cases analysts believe the true unemployment rate is substantially higher.

One of the complaints from many protesters in Egypt is that they have not been able to enjoy the fruits of this economic success. There has also been unease that the Egyptian government, which used to involve itself in crackdowns on black market activity and speculation, has played a less active role in recent years.

Historically Egypt has a larger percentage of its population living below the poverty line than Tunisia — 20%, according to a 2005 estimate, compared to 3.8%.

But many of those poor have not been involved in this week’s protests, their places taken by students, businessmen and even middle-aged couples. Poor Egyptians cannot take time off work to protest.

There have been clashes between security forces and protesters in Egypt. Is the army going to get involved?

The army in Tunisia played a crucial role: despite clashes between security forces and protesters, the military never gave its backing to the then-president.

In Egypt, the military has likewise rarely become involved in protests — the last major incidents were bread riots in 1977 and a police strike in 1985.

Even the assassination of Hosni Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar El Sadat in 1981 involved only a small hardcore group of officers motivated by extremism.

This apolitical approach means that the army is held in high regard by many ordinary Egyptians.

Further afield, how is Egypt regarded by the United States?

The United States closely monitors all developments in North Africa due to the war on terror and the threat of extremism. However, among Arab nations Egypt enjoys a near-unparalleled relationship with Washington.

On Tuesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that while the United States backed the “the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people” it believed that the “the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

But on Wednesday Clinton said, “We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

She also urged the government not to prevent peaceful protests or block social networking sites.

Also Wednesday White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked if the administration supports Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He replied: “Egypt is a strong ally.”

Egypt has been a major player in the Middle East peace process over the decades — most famously the Camp David Accords signed by Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1978. After Israel, Egypt is now the second biggest recipient of U.S. aid.

Washington also regards Egypt as a key ally in the war on terror. It has also been alleged that Egypt has sometimes been used by the U.S. for rendition. Italian prosecutors claimed in 2005 that suspected CIA agents kidnapped Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan in Milan and that he was taken to Egypt for interrogation and torture.

The U.S. maintains it does not send suspects to countries that condone torture.

Egypt has also played a key role in issues including the containment of Iran and relations between Lebanon and Syria.

In comparison Tunisia has its importance — it was hit by extremist attacks in the early to mid-1980s — but does not compare strategically.

And what about the rest of the Arab world?

Again, Egypt carries far more clout than its North African neighbor. Aside from its economic and strategic weight, it has a population of more than 80 million — nearly eight times that of Tunisia. The rest of the Arab world is heavily influenced by Egyptian culture including literature, movies and TV.

Put simply, it’s at the heart of the region in a way that Tunisia is not.

Nick Hunt and the CNN Wire contributed to this report


DAMASCUS: Syrian troops early Thursday killed four students and arrested some 200 when they stormed an anti-regime protest at Aleppo University, in the north of the country, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 28 students were also wounded, three of them critically, when government troops and armed supporters raided the campus during the night.

Activists said the raid was carried out in response to daily anti-regime demonstrations at the university in Syria’s second largest city.

“Security forces stormed the campus in large numbers at night and opened fire following a large student demonstration calling for the fall of the regime,” Mohammed al-Halabi, an activist on the ground, told AFP via Skype.

The violence took place despite a UN-backed ceasefire that went into effect April 12 and the presence in the country of UN observers monitoring the truce.

A number of demonstrations took place across Aleppo in solidarity with the students after residents learned of the attack, said Halabi.

“The security forces have opened fire to disperse protesters,” he added.

The university announced that it was suspending classes after pro-government forces killed four students and arrested more than 200 in a campus raid following anti-regime protests.

In a message posted on its website, the northern city’s university told students that classes were suspended until after final exams on May 13.

Early Thursday, another demonstration at the campus was dispersed by tear gas, said the Britain-based Observatory.

Protests in support of the Aleppo students also broke out in several universities across the country, including at Deir Ezzor, in the northeast, Daraa to the south, and the capital Damascus, according to activists.

Elsewhere, another six civilians, including a woman and child, were killed by gunfire that targeted their bus near the town of Saraqeb in northwest Idlib province, said the Observatory.

The United Nations has accused both sides to the conflict in Syria of failing to abide by the terms of the ceasefire which it admitted was not holding.

The plan, brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Anna, calls for a halt to fighting, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from urban areas, a daily humanitarian ceasefire, media access, an inclusive political process, and the right to demonstrate as well as the release of detainees.

Some 300 unarmed UN observers are to oversee the truce. An advance team began arriving in the country last month and their number has slowly increased and is supposed to reach 300 in coming weeks.

Although the level of violence has gone down since the truce went into effect, there are still daily clashes and casualties reported among government troops and armed rebels.

According to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory, more than 600 people, the majority of them civilians, have died across the country since the truce went into effect.

Overall, more than 11,000 people have died in Syria since the revolt against the regime of Bashar al-Assad broke out in March of last year, according to the Observatory.

On Wednesday, 15 soldiers died in an ambush by rebels in Aleppo province and seven were killed in the Damascus region, according to the watchdog.

Despite the bloodshed, the head of a UN military observer mission said his team was having a positive effect, although he admitted the ceasefire was not holding.

Major General Robert Mood brushed off criticism that the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, or UNSMIS, had been too slow to get off the ground and said their numbers would double within days.

Mood was to hold a press conference later Thursday.

Syria’s main opposition coalition urged the observers to visit detention centres, saying there had been an “escalation of arrests.”

“The Syrian National Council calls on the Security Council to pass a resolution demanding the Assad regime stop the escalation in arrests, murders and torture of detainees, and demand their release,” the group said on Wednesday.

It also called for the observers to count the number of detained and “carry out frequent and unannounced visits to the prisons” of those locked up in the almost 14-month uprising.

More than 100,000 people have been detained since the outbreak of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to the Observatory, which puts the number still behind bars at more than 25,000.


Syrian students ‘killed at Aleppo protest’

At least four people have been killed as security forces and militiamen raided student accommodation in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, activists say.

Live ammunition was reportedly used to disperse an anti-government protest outside dormitories adjacent to Aleppo University’s campus late on Wednesday.

As many as 200 students are thought to have been arrested during the raid.

The university has announced it is suspending all classes for the rest of the current academic year.

Aleppo has so far not experienced the violence and large-scale protests seen in other cities during the uprising.

But there have been almost daily demonstrations by its students.

‘Tougher tactics’

One student in Aleppo, Thaer al-Ahmed, said there was panic and chaos as security forces personnel and members of the Shabiha militia fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse a protest by about 1,500 people outside their dormitories on Wednesday night.

“Some students ran to their rooms to take cover but they were followed to their rooms, beaten up and arrested,” he told the Associated Press. “Others suffered cuts and broken bones as they tried to flee.”

Mr Ahmed said raids and intermittent gunfire had continued in the area for about five hours until Thursday morning.

The Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), an activist network, said troops had later warned anyone still inside the student accommodation to leave. Entrances to faculty buildings were also said to have been closed.

The LCC said five students had been killed, while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people had died.

A protest against the violence is now said to have begun nearby.

Activists said security forces had tended to use only tear gas and batons to disperse student protests since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, but that in the past few days they had adopted tougher tactics.

This had forced students to hold demonstrations at night, they added.

The overnight crackdown in Aleppo was launched despite the Syrian government saying it was abiding by the terms of the peace plan negotiated by the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, which includes a ceasefire and a commitment to allow peaceful protests. BBC

Syrian students ‘killed in anti-regime protest’

Syrian troops killed four students in a campus raid on Thursday that human rights monitors said could mark a turning point for the second-largest city Aleppo in the more than 13-month uprising.

The four students died and 28 more were wounded, three of them critically, when government forces and armed supporters stormed the dormitories at Aleppo University following a campus demonstration, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 200 students were also arrested during the night-time raid.

Following the violence, the university, the country’s second-largest, announced it was suspending classes until final exams on May 13.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, said the events could mark a turning point for Syria’s second city and commercial powerhouse, which has remained relatively calm since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime broke out in March last year.

“The city of Aleppo hasn’t joined the anti-regime revolt thus far but the seriousness of these events will push residents to mobilise in solidarity with the students,” he told AFP.

“Security forces stormed the university in response to increased student protests lately inside and outside the campus,” he said.

“The university suspended classes because neither the management nor the security forces seem able to control the situation.”

Students described scenes of panic as regime troops entered the dormitories, with some pupils jumping from windows to avoid arrest.

“Security forces raided the dormitories and threw out students and their belongings,” Mohammed al-Halabi, an activist on the ground, told AFP via Skype, adding some of the rooms were torched.

The raid took place despite a UN-backed ceasefire that went into effect on April 12 and the presence in the country of UN observers.

A number of demonstrations broke out at universities around the country in solidarity with Aleppo’s students, including at Deir Ezzor, in the northeast, in the capital Damascus, and in Daraa to its south, activists said.

Elsewhere, six civilians, including a woman and child, were killed by gunfire that targeted a bus near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province in the northwest, the Observatory said.

Two other civilians as well as an army defector and a soldier were also killed.

The United Nations has accused both sides to the conflict of failing to abide by the terms of the ceasefire which it has admitted was not holding.

The plan, brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, calls for a halt to fighting, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from urban areas, a daily humanitarian ceasefire, media access, an inclusive political process, and the right to demonstrate as well as the release of detainees.

Some 300 unarmed UN observers are to oversee the truce. An advance team began arriving in the country last month and their number has slowly increased and is supposed to reach the full complement in coming weeks.

Although the level of violence has gone down since the truce went into effect, there are still daily clashes and casualties reported.

The Observatory said more than 600 people have died since the truce went into effect, the majority of them civilians.

Overall, more than 11,000 people have died since the uprising broke out in March last year, according to the Observatory’s figures.

On Wednesday, 15 soldiers died in an ambush by rebels in Aleppo province and seven were killed in the Damascus region, according to the watchdog.

Despite the bloodshed, the head of a UN military observer mission said his team was having a positive effect, although he admitted the ceasefire was not holding.

Major General Robert Mood brushed off criticism that the UN Supervision Mission in Syria had been too slow to get off the ground. He said their numbers would double within days. the jakarta globe


South Punjab: ‘Bahawalpur will resist Seraiki province’

LAHORE: Former minister Muhammad Ali Durrani has warned the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) against pressing for the creation of a Seraiki province, saying the move would be resisted by the people of Bahawalpur, who wanted a separate province of their own.

Addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club, Durrani said that President Asif Zardari’s announcement regarding a Seraiki province was a clear violation of the Constitution.

Durrani said that the president represented the federation and should not spread “ethnic and linguistic hatred”. He said that Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani were “conspiring” against southern Punjab, and their push for a Seraiki province would result in unrest.

During a recent trip to Multan, Zardari told businessmen that he would direct the government to set up a separate Seraiki province in southern Punjab before the general elections.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.

Seraiki province a right for marginalised in south Punjab: Gilani

RAHIM YAR KHAN: Continuing his campaign for a Seraiki province in south Punjab, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that the people of south Punjab had a sense of deprivation for a long time and the only solution for it was a separate ‘Seraiki’ province for them.

“Marginalised areas have the right to have a separate province,” he asserted.

He paid tribute to Taj Mohammad Langa for the Saraeki province movement.

I will continue the mission of Bhuttos: Gilani

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Saturday that he would continue the mission of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto despite all challenges and obstacles.

“If I abandon the PPP, President Zardari, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Benazir Bhutto then I am a pious man, otherwise a ‘traitor’,” he mocked, before adding, “but I will prefer death over compromising on principles.”

“I am being pressurised to betray the PPP, but I am loyal to the party because I am a custodian of the seat of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and I can never do anything unconstitutional,” he said.

The Prime Minister was addressing a big public gathering after inaugurating the construction of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Bridge in Rajanpur.

The project, which will cost Rs 7 billion, and authorities are claiming to complete it in 10 weeks, if so, it will be a record for a project like this. The bridge will connect N-5 national highway with N-55 and reduce the distance between Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur by 150 kilometers.

Prime Minister Gilani said both Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had laid down their lives for Pakistan and democracy.

A lot of conspiracies have been hatched to finish the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) but it always emerged as a popular and strong political party, he added.

“The people, who cannot face us in elections, are hatching conspiracies, but due to a vibrant media and civil society they cannot derail democracy,” he said.

The Prime Minister brushed aside the allegations of not respecting the institutions, asking that how could a party, which gave the 1973 Constitution to the country and then restored it, would not respect the institutions.

Series of development projects launched in Rahim Yar Khan

Prime Minister Gilani said the construction of Nishtar Ghat Bridge was a dream of Benazir Bhutto which he has now realised.

He also announced Rs 50 million as a first installment for Chachran Model City and Rs 100 million for Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Cadet College.

The Prime Minister said he has issued orders for issuance of the second installment of Watan Cards. He said that Rahim Yar Khan would also be getting an engineering university soon.

The Prime Minister on the occasion also announced restoration of 400 NCHD employees.

He also directed the National Highway Authority to pay compensation to those, whose land had been acquired for the construction of the bridge.

The Prime Minister also announced Rs one million for Khanpur Press Club and a water supply scheme for Feroza Town.

Regarding rising unemployment, he said that he has instructed the Finance Ministry to create 100,000 new jobs in the coming budget.

He also announced compensation for the victims of Khanpur bomb blast.

The Prime Minister also announced construction of a flyover in Rahim Yar Khan and said that gas projects in the area would be completed soon.

Gilani visits shrines of Khawaja Ghulam Fareed

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani went to Kot Mithan in Rajanpur on the shrine of sufi Saint Khawaja Ghulam Fareed from Rahim Yar Khan. He paid homage to the sufi saint and his services and also offer prayers. Prime Minister ordered to give funds for the renovation of the mausoleum and also give orders to enhance the Khajwaj Ghulam Fareed library declaring it a great asset of the Seraiki region.

Talking to the current successor of the sufi saint, Khawaj Moinuddin Mehbob, he said that teachings of the saint has always saved the real image of Islam which believe in giving identity to all people and spending life with inter religious harmony and giving space to all people to practice their lives on their believes and faiths.

PML-N submits resolution for 4 new provinces

ISLAMABAD: After Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its coalition partners passed a resolution for the formation of a south Punjab province, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML) submitted a resolution for the formation of four new provinces in the country.

The resolution submitted in the National Assembly calls for the formation of Bahawalpur, FATA, south Punjab and Hazara provinces.

Earlier today, the National Assembly had successfully passed a resolution for the formation of a new province carved out of south Punjab.

Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar had complained that the speaker had taken up such an important matter without giving notice. He had claimed there was too much noise and questioned how the speaker determined who had voted in favour of the resolution and who had not.

Resolutions passed: South Punjab province, reposing confidence in Gilani

ISLAMABAD: Amid an intense protest by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers, the National Assembly on Thursday passed resolutions supporting the formation of a south Punjab province and reposing confidence in Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Later during the day, the Upper House (Senate) also unanimously passed the resolution reflecting firm confidence in Gilani.

The resolution, expressing solidarity with the premier, was moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Jahangir Badar in the absence of PML-N members.

The National Assembly session, which was marred by sloganeering by PML-N members, was scheduled to begin at 10:30am but began at 12:22pm.

The resolutions were moved by Law Minister Farooq H Naek and were passed by the assembly. It has been reported that all members besides those from the PML-N voted in favour of the resolutions.

PML-N MNAs arrived in the assembly with placards and wearing black armbands to protest against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s refusal to step down after he was convicted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. One of the placards read “Seat khali hay, barayee farokht”.

Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar sat silently in the tenth row and did not take part in the protest.

The session was adjourned after the resolutions had been passed. The National Assembly session will resume at 10:00am on Friday.

Nisar, speaking to the media after the session, said that the speaker should preside over the session in a transparent manner.

He said last Friday, the speaker had let the prime minister quietly arrive and give a speech while PML-N members were away, and this time an important issue had been taken up without informing the members of the house.

Nisar questioned how the speaker had established that MNAs had voted in favour of the resolution, stating that it had been too noisy inside the House.

He said that PML-N was in favour of more provinces and had also announced support for a Bahawalpur province.

The PML-N has repeatedly called for Gilani to step down as prime minister since the Supreme Court of Pakistan convicted him in a contempt of court case after he refused to write a letter to Swiss authorities, asking that cases against President Asif Ali Zardari be reopened.

The largest opposition party – PML-N – has already announced it would continue to force the ruling PPP to nominate a new prime minister.

NEW: Gunfire is heard in Cairo despite U.S. calls for restraintThe protesters defy a curfew that went into effect at 6 p.m.A CNN source says opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei was placed under house arrestPolice fire tear gas into crowds in several Egyptian citiesEditor’s Note: This article is being updated constantly by CNN reporters worldwide. Follow: Live blogging on This Just In, the latest tweets from CNN correspondents and images from the protests. Send your video, images to CNN iReport.

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — As darkness fell Friday, thousands of angry Egyptians defied a government curfew and stinging police tear gas to march on the streets demanding change.

The United States appealed for restraint, but Friday evening the sounds of what seemed to be gunfire rang out near a Cairo police station on which protesters had converged.

The government cracked down throughout the day with thousands of riot and plain-clothes police and the force of the army in armored personnel carriers equipped with gun turrets. Undeterred, people ran, screamed, hurled rocks and accosted walls of security as they tried to make their way to central Cairo.

Embattled President Hosni Mubarak imposed a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. State-run Nile TV said the curfew was in response to the “hooliganism and lawlessness” of the protesters.

Vans packed with riot police circled Cairo neighborhoods before the start of weekly prayers in the afternoon. Later in the day, Egyptian soldiers moved onto the streets, the first time the army has been deployed to quell unrest since 1985.

But protesters, fed up with economic woes and a lack of freedoms, defied all warnings to demand an end to Mubarak’s authoritarian 30-year-rule.

They chanted “God is Great” and the dictator must go. “Down, Down, Mubarak,” they shouted.

Plumes of rancid, thick smoke billowed over the Nile River as, by day’s close, chaos reigned in the bustling metropolis. Fires could be seen in front of the Egyptian ruling party’s headquarters.

Police fired tear gas with force and impunity. A tourist on the balcony of his 18th floor hotel room told CNN he had to run in and wash his eyes and face from the stinging gas.

Police confiscated cameras from people, including guests at the Hilton Hotel.

As the government cracked down on protesters across Egypt, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned home to Cairo to join the demonstrations, was placed under house arrest, a high-level security source told CNN.

ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency, was warned earlier not to leave a mosque near downtown Cairo where he was attending Friday prayers.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the Egyptian crisis Friday, urging all parties to be peaceful and engage in dialog.

“We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything within its power to restrain its security forces,” Clinton said. “At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully.”

She said the protests underscored “deep grievances within Egyptian society and the Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away.”

Unprecedented demonstrations erupted all over Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world and often a barometer for sentiment on the Arab community.

In the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, at least 1,000 protesters gathered and youths hurled rocks through black clouds of gas. Crowds ran through the streets toward the city’s central square. There was no indication of a curfew in that city either, as people remained out well after the time it was to begin.

Further south in Suez, 15,000 riot police were out, using tear gas to disperse crowds, Nile TV said.

Riot police also confronted protesters in the cities and towns of Ismailia, Fayoum and Shbin Elkoum, according to the anti-government group Egyptian Liberation.

In Jordan, meanwhile, about 1,500 protesters amassed in downtown Amman and hundreds of others turned out in other cities, witnesses said.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry forbade protests Friday, but some Egyptians went door to door in Cairo, urging their neighbors to participate. The main opposition bloc, the Muslim Brotherhood, urged its supporters for the first time to take to the streets.

A Facebook page devoted to the demonstrations accrued more than 80,000 followers as of Thursday afternoon, compared with 20,000 the previous day. But hours ahead of the protests, the internet went dark in parts of the country. Some text messaging and cell phone services appeared to be blocked.

Servers of Egypt’s main internet provider were down early Friday, according to multiple services that check whether servers used by specific sites are active. Servers for the Egyptian government’s sites and for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo also appeared to be down.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are aware that communication services, including social media, are being blocked,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday. “We continue to urge Egyptian authorities to show restraint and allow peaceful protests to occur.”

Even though it was difficult to use Twitter and Facebook within Egypt, thousands of others outside the country ran with the powerful social media tool to provide a real-time chronology of events. “Mubarak” was a trending topic.

Authorities arrested a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader early Friday, detaining the party’s main speaker, Issam al-Aryan, according to a relative. Police came to al-Aryan’s Cairo home at 2:30 a.m. local time, his son-in-law said.

Other government critics voiced their opinions — amazingly — on state-run television.

A popular morning show on state-run Nile TV included comments from guests calling for the resignation of government officials and increased dialogue between authorities and arrested protesters.

The network carried coverage of the protests, even at times calling them large and peaceful.

They followed days of unrest that have roiled several Arab countries. Demonstrations in Tunisia led the president to flee that North African nation. Then came protests in Algeria, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.

Essentially they are pro-democracy protests by people who are increasingly frustrated with the accumulating wealth of the elites in their respective countries, while a majority of the citizenry faces bleak economic prospects.

“They all want the same,” said Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the Middle East. “They’re all protesting about growing inequalities, they’re all protesting against growing nepotism. The top of the pyramid was getting richer and richer.”

People are also fed up with authoritarian regimes that do not afford the people proper representation.

“Fundamentally it’s a question of dignity. People’s dignity has been under assault for decades,” Hokayem said.

Opposition leader ElBaradei said Thursday that people have taken to the streets because they “realize the regime is not listening, not acting.”

“The barrier of fear is broken,” he said. “And it will not come back.”

He called for demonstrations to be peaceful and for Mubarak’s government to stop detaining and torturing people. He said that a violent response from the government is “counterproductive” and that the regime should promote democracy and social justice.

“I am asking the regime to listen to the people before it is too late,” the opposition leader said.

Mubarak has not been seen in public for some time. He is 82 and there has been speculation of failing health. Many Egyptians believe Mubarak is grooming his son, Gamal, as his successor, a plan that could be complicated by demands for democracy.

At least six people have died in the demonstrations so far, according to Egypt’s Interior Ministry.

Four French journalists were arrested in Cairo but were later released, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

And a CNN crew covering the clashes in Cairo felt the wrath of the police.

CNN’s Ben Wedeman and Mary Rogers were under an overpass and behind a column as police tried to hold back protesters. Plainclothes police wielding clubs surrounded the CNN team and wanted “to haul us off,” Wedeman said. In a struggle, police grabbed Rogers’s camera, cracked its viewfinder, and confiscated it. Wedeman said the police threatened to beat them.

CNN’s Nic Robertson, Mary Rogers, Ben Wedeman, Frederik Pleitgen, Salma Abdelaziz, Housam Ahmed and Caroline Faraj contributed to this report.


ISLAMABAD: Amid intense opposition and uproar from Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) members,  the National Assembly adopted resolutions on Thursday supporting the creation of a south Punjab province and reposing confidence in Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, DawnNews reported.

Angry protests from opposition benches marred Thursday’s NA session, which started with a delay of two hours. Shouts of “Go Gilani, go!” by opposition lawmakers filled the House as PML-N members tore copies of the day’s agenda to pieces, staging another noisy protest to keep up its campaign against PM Gilani.

“I wish we do not revive those unethical traditions in the House. We should not undermine the supremacy of the Parliament that has been established during the last four and half years,” National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza urged the opposition members.

Members from the PML-N, who had left their seats to sit on the stairs opposite to the Speaker’s dais even before start of the proceedings, carried placards and chanted slogans against the prime minister.

The Speaker’s repeated requests to maintain decorum seemed to fall on deaf ears as the protesting members continued their sloganeering against the government.

Meanwhile, amid all the commotion , Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek presented two resolutions in the house — one reposing confidence in the prime minister and the other supporting the formation of a south Punjab province.  Both resolutions were passed by the House amid echoes of “No! No!” from the opposition members.

The session was adjourned until Friday after the passage of the resolutions.

‘No significance’

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that not only was the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) in favour of the formation of a south Punjab province, it also supported the creation of the Bahawalpur and Hazara provinces.

Speaking to media representatives outside the assembly, Nisar said a commission should be constituted for this purpose.

Nisar moreover said that the passing of a resolution in the National Assembly over the formation of a south Punjab province had no significance.


LONDON: Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer and biggest user of Google’s (GOOG.O) Android operating system.

And, for some, that’s the problem.

Samsung’s meteoric rise – in the first quarter of 2011 it shipped fewer smartphones than Apple (AAPL.O), Nokia (NOK1V.HE) or Research in Motion (RIM.TO), but is now market leader – has handed it a dilemma. Does it risk becoming a commodity manufacturer of hardware, squeezed like the PC makers of old between narrowing margins and those who control the software that makes their devices run, or does it try to break into other parts of the business – the so-called mobile ecosystem?

“It comes down to this sense of what it is they want to be,” said Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum. “Do they really want to be one of the power players or are they happy enabling someone else’s ecosystem?”

To be sure, Samsung isn’t in any kind of trouble, and isn’t likely to be so any time soon. Later on Thursday, it will launch the Galaxy S3, the latest addition to its flagship range of smartphones. Juniper Research expects Samsung to remain the No.1 smartphone manufacturer this quarter. The next iPhone upgrade is expected around the third quarter.

“Android has done wonders for them,” says India-based Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta.

But still the company has its critics. They worry that Samsung has yet to address the central contradiction of it making devices that use someone else’s operating system. By licensing the free Android OS from Google, Samsung saves itself millions of dollars in software development costs and license fees, but leaves itself dependent on Google.

Horace Dediu, a former analyst for Nokia who now works as a consultant and runs an influential blog at, said a similar debate went on at Nokia in the early years of the smartphone. The conclusion, he said, was obvious: Microsoft (MSFT.O) had shown that whoever owned the operating system could relegate every hardware manufacturer to be a commodity player.

“So it’s a puzzle to me now, years and years on,” he said, “to see companies like Samsung continuing to operate within the operating system and ecosystem that other vendors control.”

GRAPHIC: Smartphone vendors:

And Samsung, of course, is not alone. Nokia itself has abandoned its own operating system, Symbian, in favour of Microsoft’s Windows Phone. But the consequences for Samsung and other Android manufacturers are visible: While each has customized the Android interface, these are “veneers”, in the words of Dediu, which “dissolve as soon as you jump into an application of the core platform.”

These tweaks also contribute to what is called “fragmentation”. As Google rolls out updates to its operating system, they must first be tested and adapted by manufacturers against their own customizations before being pushed out to the handset. This slows down the update process and means many users are stuck with earlier versions of Android. Nearly two thirds of Android devices, for example, run Gingerbread, a version of the operating system that was released in late 2010.

This further weakens Samsung’s efforts to differentiate its phones beyond merely the look and hardware specifications. Analysts say Google’s efforts to reduce fragmentation by limiting what can be altered in more recent versions of Android compounds such problems. Also, smartphones look increasingly similar as they shift from keyboards to touchscreens.

All this creates a conflict of interest between the two players that at some point may burst into the open. While Samsung says it has welcomed Google’s purchase of Motorola (MMI.N), a handset maker, because of the U.S. firm’s commitment to supporting Android and its partners, it has also taken steps towards some degree of independence.

For example it last year introduced its own Android software store, Samsung Apps, which has about 40,000 apps – a handful compared to Apple’s 500,000 for the iPhone and 450,000 for Android. And last month it announced its own mobile advertising service, AdHub Market, apparently competing with Google’s own ad distribution network – its main source of revenue.


And while all but a fraction of Samsung’s smartphones are currently Android devices, the South Korean group has said it is committed to creating devices for different operating systems – what it calls a multi-platform strategy. Analysts said this has so far been half-hearted.

It has an operating system called bada, for example, which was on fewer than 3 percent of the world’s smartphones last year, according to Canalys, putting it ahead of Microsoft’s Windows Phone. But that’s nothing compared to Android, which was on nearly half of all smartphones shipped. “They’ve tried to beat the drum for bada, but it hasn’t had much traction,” said Jake Saunders, a Singapore-based analyst for ABI Research.

Samsung says it plans to introduce more models, but has also said it may roll bada into another operating system called Tizen, and is in any case building an ecosystem that would improve compatibility between the two systems. It was keen to stress, however, that while Android was an important part of its strategy, phones running Windows and bada operating systems were equally important. Given that bada and Windows phones account for less than 5 percent of Samsung’s total phone shipments, it suggests Samsung will give greater weight to Windows and bada phones in the months ahead.

But these are small steps given the scale of Samsung’s dependence on Android. Samsung, said Ovum’s Cripps, is keenly aware of the need to shape a broader strategy. “Especially in the last year there’s been quite a lot of thought internally about which way they go with this.”


If it wants to avoid merely competing at the bottom end of the market with ZTE and Huawei, analysts agreed it must develop an ecosystem that embraces software, content, other devices and all the players that help make that happen. This would inevitably pit it against Apple, Amazon (AMZN.O), Google and Microsoft. All have different business models, said Cripps, but the same goal: to “own every element of the consumer’s online and mobile experience.”

In some ways, Samsung is well positioned for this.

“Samsung is not just a phone maker like HTC so it does have the potential to create platforms which deliver content and web services to TVs, PCs, phones and media players, and connect them,” said Caroline Gabriel, research director at Rethink Technology Research.

This is Samsung’s competitive advantage, said Gabriel, as the world shifts more to web-based technologies like HTML5, which reduce the relevance of individual operating systems and platforms like Apple’s iOS and Android. Instead, applications will be more like web pages, which can run on any device.

Samsung can draw on its extensive supply chain, manufacturing capability and research and development facilities to make this happen, Gabriel noted, but its challenge is to overcome silo-like systems within the company and to learn how to develop relationships with the outside world.

“Samsung has no track record of building a developer ecosystem and even in the web that’s going to be a challenge,” she said. “It may have thought Google would be a solution, but Google is too controlling.”


It also requires deeper changes, said Ovum’s Cripps – not only to be the first Japanese or Korean company to break into a world dominated by U.S. players, but to succeed where once- dominant players like Nokia, RIM and Microsoft have stumbled. “I can well understand any doubts they may have internally about how they should push ahead with this,” he said. “It is genuinely very, very difficult.”

Samsung has made some tentative steps, for example into wedding its Smart TV business into partnerships with content providers. And developers like Singapore-based Jon Petersen say the company has put out feelers to outsiders to help work on software applications – in apparent recognition of its own weaknesses. Such weaknesses were visible even with the app it published ahead of Thursday’s S3 launch: nearly a third of reviewers gave it the lowest rating, complaining it didn’t work properly.

For now, no one denies Samsung’s pre-eminence.

“The zeitgeist right now is definitely towards high-end Android devices of which Samsung is clearly the leader so I don’t think there’s any instant danger,” said Cripps. “It’s more a case of what Samsung wants to be in five years’ time and planning towards that.” AGENCIES.