Friday, August 27, 2010

Hillary Clinton admitted the U.S. created the Taliban

In 2009, appearing before a congressional hearings on the Obama administration's foreign policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted the U.S. created the Taliban. "Let's remember here... the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago... and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union," said Clinton.

China denies visa to J&K Gen, India hits back

India has suspended defence exchanges with China after Beijing refused a visa to an Indian army general from the Kashmir region, media reports said on Friday. Indian army's General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Area Command was denied visa because he was responsible for "disputed" region of Jammu & Kashmir, according to China. A government source said the Indian government would issue a statement later on Friday over the issue. The Chinese have been provokng India on Kashmir in recent times by refusing to paste visas on the passports of residents of J&K, instead stapling them instead. India has strongly protestd this practice since the government refuses to recognize stapled visas as valid travel documents

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Delhi asks Google to show Kashmir part of India

New Delhi (ND) has issued a notice to the search engine giant Google for showing what India considers Azad Kashmir as Pakistani territory. The disputed map comes up on Google Insights for search and Indian authorities have asked Google to immediately correct this “inaccuracy”. “There had been media reports that Google Images had been depicting India’s international boundaries incorrectly. Upon learning this, minister of state for communications and IT Sachin Pilot instructed the department of information technology to inquire into the matter and to take necessary steps to ensure that the depiction is made accurate,” said a statement from Pilot’s office.Following this, the IT department issued a notice to Google India.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pakistan facing a 'slow-motion tsunami'

By Washington correspondent Craig McMurtrie An emergency session of the United Nations has been told Pakistan is facing potential political and economic instability in the wake of catastrophic flooding. The stark warning came from Pakistan's foreign minister but was echoed by US officials including the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Ms Clinton announced a boost of US aid funding, but the Americans also criticised Pakistan's regional allies, including China, for not doing their part. Weeks after the disaster first hit, the UN convened with a graphic video showing the extent of the inundation. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says the rains that continue to swamp Pakistan are a "slow-motion tsunami". The special session was called because of concerns that the flow of international aid is not matching the scale of the catastrophe, one that Mr Ban says is affecting more people than Pakistan's 2005 earthquake, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and the Haiti earthquake combined. "At least 160,000 square kilometres of land is underwater, an area larger than more than half of the countries of the world," he said. Lifting a US promise of $90 million in aid to $150 million, Ms Clinton warned against international donor fatigue after what she called an unrelenting stream of disasters this year. "Experts predict that the flooding will not recede until mid-September and if the monsoon rains continue the devastation will spread to new areas driving yet more people from homes," she said. "So we know we face a humanitarian disaster of monumental proportions and it is creating economic and security problems." US officials are worried about the danger of instability in the nuclear capable country if more is not done, a point underlined by Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. "The food security of the sixth most populous country in the world is at risk," he said. "The possible threat of food riots and related violence cannot be ruled out." He also reminded those listening of Pakistan's importance in the battle against extremism. "The massive upheaval caused by the floods and economic losses suffered by the millions of Pakistanis must be addressed urgently," he said. "If we fail it could undermine the hard-won gains made by the government in our difficult and painful war against terrorism. "We cannot allow this catastrophe to become an opportunity for the terrorists." Britain, the EU and others followed America's lead, upping their contributions at the donor's conference. But with billions expected to be needed for reconstruction, it is just a start. The US and its allies have been annoyed by the slow response from Pakistan's regional allies, with ambassador Richard Holbrooke taking a swipe at China. "Other countries maybe more highly rated on popularity scales than Pakistan like, for example, China, but we do the most and I don't know where those other countries are," he said. The Obama administration has also launched a special fund for Pakistan, but so far it is not generating anywhere near the outpouring of public support seen for Haiti's earthquake victims earlier in the year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

U.N. says secured more Pakistan flood relief funds

By Alistair Scrutton ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Nearly half the $459 million (295.8 million pounds) needed for initial relief in Pakistan's worst ever floods has been secured after days of lobbying donors and warnings that the country faces a spiralling humanitarian catastrophe, the United Nations said on Wednesday. But despite the fresh funds, only a fraction of the six million Pakistanis desperate for food and clean water have received help after the worst floods in decades killed up to 1,600 people and left two million homeless. "There has been an improvement in funding. Donors are realising the scale of the disaster," U.N. spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told Reuters. "But the challenges are absolutely massive and the floods are not over." "The size of (the area affected by) this disaster is equivalent to Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined. That's pretty scary." A few days ago, only a quarter of aid pledged had been received, prompting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a visit to Pakistan to urge foreign donors to speed up funding and avert more deaths. So far, food rations and access to clean water have only been provided to around 700,000 flood survivors, the U.N said. The damage and cost of recovery could shave more than one percentage point off economic growth, analysts say. Pakistan's High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said the cost of rebuilding could reach up to $15 billion. Victims are relying mostly on the military, the most powerful institution in Pakistan, and foreign aid agencies for help. Nevertheless, a military coup is considered unlikely. The army's priority is fighting Taliban insurgents, and seizing power during a disaster would make no sense, analysts say. Hundreds of villages are isolated, highways and bridges have been cut in half by floods and hundreds of thousands of cattle -- the livelihoods of many villagers -- have drowned. The United Nations has warned that up to 3.5 million children could be in danger of contracting deadly diseases carried through contaminated water and insects in a crisis that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of Pakistan's 170 million people. "Who will treat her? The doctors said she has a hole in the wall of her heart," said Bakhmina Said, whose one-year-old Naeema slept on a mat in sweltering heat at a fly-infested camp in northwestern Pakistan. She had no fan, no chance of seeing a cardiologist anytime soon and at risk of catching other potentially fatal diseases in cramped, un-hygienic conditions. U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation says Pakistan could face food shortages if its farmers miss the sowing season which is due to start next month. Public anger has grown in the two weeks of floods, highlighting potential political troubles for President Asif Ali Zardari's unpopular government which is a major U.S. ally in the war against Islamist militancy. Some Pakistani flood victims blocked highways to demand government help and villagers clashed with baton-wielding police on Tuesday after opposition leader Nawaz Sharif tried to distribute relief in Sindh. (Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Charsadda; Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Michael Georgy )

State Dept., USAID urge Pakistan flood aid

The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are once again encouraging Americans to donate money to a natural disaster beyond U.S. borders, this time seeking for survivors of Pakistan's historic floods. The two agencies led similar efforts after the Haitian earthquake. This time they're urging concerned citizens to text "SWAT" to 50555 to give $10 to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for flood relief, the State Department said. The U.N. office has delivered about 4,000 tents, 2,700 plastic sheets, 2,200 kitchen sets and 4,000 plastic mats to the hardest-hit areas, according to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. @StateDept is also keeping Twitter users informed, linking them to a page with phone numbers and Web sites of other nongovernmental organizations providing assistance, including Save the Children, the International Red Cross and OXFAM. USAID has a page with similar information. And in an effort to win hearts and minds on the Internet, the State Department produced the video above of Consul General William Martin discussing flood relief. Have you seen other examples of the federal government's response to the Pakistani floods? Leave links in the comments section below.

Monday, August 16, 2010

UN: Money Needed to Help Pakistani Flood Victims

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has left Pakistan after describing floods there as the worst disaster he has ever witnessed.

The UN has appealed for nearly half-a billion dollars to fund emergency relief in Pakistan, but so far only a quarter of that amount has been raised.

Correspondents say relief workers are struggling to cope with the scale of the devastation and more people are being forced to flee their homes by rising flood waters.

Pascal Cuttat, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Pakistan, is one of those trying to tackle the massive relief effort.