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October 15, 2009

Obama signs Pakistan aid bill worth US$7.5 billion

Obama signs Pakistan aid bill worth US$7.5 billion

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

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US president Barack Obama signed a bill that will give Pakistan US$7.5 billion worth of nonmilitary aid into law on Thursday.

The bill was signed by the president at the White House. The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said that the law demonstrated the “tangible manifestation of broad support for Pakistan in the US.”

The plan will provide money for projects to help fund energy generation, roads, schools, and water resource management in Pakistan, among other things. Congress, however, will still need to allot the money indicated in the bill, and the bill will need to be renewed annually.

Some members of the Pakistani parliament and military said that they felt some of the rules laid out in the plan might result in a breach of sovereignty. However, the Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said he believed that the US wasn’t trying to take control over his country’s internal politics.



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February 12, 2009

Pakistani nuclear scientist released from house arrest

Pakistani nuclear scientist released from house arrest

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr A.Q.Khan
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Last Friday, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani nuclear scientist, was freed from detention. Khan was detained under house arrest since 2004, he made a televised confession of selling nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. He is widely regarded as the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program, and most famous as a national hero.

Dr. Qadeer filed a petition at the Islamabad High Court against the government, to address his detention and house arrest. He was freed and now lives as a “free citizen,” but the terms upon which he and the government agreed remain secret.

He sent his regards to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, and the Interior Adviser, and thanked them for their stance opposing his detention.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was “very much concerned” about Khan’s release. One of the spokesmen, Gordon Duguid, said Khan “remains a serious proliferation risk” and releasing him would be “extremely regrettable”. Gillani has rejected such remarks, saying that Dr. Qadeer’s network has been dismantled and said that he has been released under Court orders.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi tried to calm international worries. He reiterated that Khan’s network had been broken up and said that the government reserves the right to appeal the court’s ruling.

Khan, who is now 72 years old and has received treatment for prostate cancer, told reporters that he was finished with nuclear work and plans to devote himself to education.



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July 7, 2008

Suicide bomber attacks Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing at least 41

Suicide bomber attacks Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing at least 41

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Monday, July 7, 2008

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A car bomb was used in an attack on the Indian embassy in central Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday morning. The bombing killed 41, and injured at least 141. It is the deadliest attack in Kabul since 2001, when Afghanistan’s Taliban government was ousted by American armed forces.

The attack happened at the gates of the embassy, located in central Kabul, near many other government buildings including the office of the Interior Ministry of Afghanistan. A security office and part of a wall were destroyed, and the blast was large enough to spread debris to surrounding buildings. Ali Hassan Fahimi, whose office is nearby, said shrapnel landed in his office. “It was so strong… our staff were shocked,” he commented.

Many of the victims were Afghans who were lining up for visas to travel to India. Of the casualties, most were civilians. The dead include embassy workers, a defense attache, a senior counselor, two security guards, an Afghan employee and six police officers.

The foreign ministry of Afghanistan said that they “condemn today’s terrorist attack on the embassy of the friendly and brother country of India.” An Afghan government spokesman, Zamari Bashari, suggested that the attack was retaliation for India’s support for reconstruction in Afghanistan. India called the bombing a “cowardly terrorist attack” and said that they would send a delegation to investigate.

Foreign entities voiced similar sentiments. The United Nations envoy Kai Eide said, “I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. In no culture, no country, and no religion is there any excuse or justification for such acts. The total disregard for innocent lives is staggering and those behind this must be held responsible.” The European Union condemned the attack as a “terrorist attack targeting innocent civilians” and the United States said it was a “needless act of violence”. The foreign minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, denounced the attack, saying, “Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as this menace negates the very essence of human values.”



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March 19, 2008

Pakistan\’s parliament elects first female speaker

Pakistan’s parliament elects first female speaker

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pakistan
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The National Assembly of Pakistan has elected Fahmida Mirza of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as its first female speaker, weeks after the general elections which ousted President Pervez Musharraf’s party and gave the PPP the most seats in Parliament.

Mirza, a former medical doctor who has previously served three terms in the National Assembly, was the joint candidate of the PPP, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N), the Awami National Party (ANP), and other allied parties.

She received 249 votes out of the 324 who were present. Her main rival candidate, Israr Tareen from the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q), received only 70 votes.

The result was announced by Chaudhry Amir Hussain, the outgoing speaker. “Fahmida Mirza is declared to have been elected speaker of the National Assembly,” he said, as other Parliament members pounded their desks in approval.

“This is my third tenure in the National Assembly and I believe it is time that we all work together to address the challenges facing the country,” Mirza told reporters. “I am sure we will be able to face these challenges with the support of parliamentarians, our people and Pakistani media.”

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a central PPP leader, said, “The election of Fahmida Mirza as speaker will be a big step towards the empowerment of women in Pakistan.”

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, parliamentary leader of the pro-Musharraf PML-Q, told Mirza, “This is a big test and I hope that with the honour that Allah has bestowed upon you, you will be able to live up to expectations.”

Later, in elections for the deputy speaker, PPP candidate Faisal Kundi defeated Khush Bakhat Shujaat of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is allied with the PML-Q.

The coalition government headed by the PPP has yet to name a Prime Minister, but they are expected to announce their nomination in the next few days. Party insiders say the prime minister, who will be named by Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, will only hold office for a few months until Bilawal’s father, Asif Ali Zardari, becomes eligible for the post.



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