Subdivision Tips, South Australia (C: +61431138537), https://www.facebook.com/RealEstateSA5000/

Monday, April 30, 2012

YouWeb and StartEngine incubators to hold Double Demo Day for 20 startups

Wed, Apr 25 12:02 PM EDT

When it comes to startup demos, more is better. So incubators YouWeb and StartEngine are combining their efforts to host a joint demo day for 20 startups funded by the two.

The event, dubbed Double Demo Day, brings together a couple of the most interesting personalities in tech funding: Peter Relan (pictured right), chairman of YouWeb, and Howard Marks (pictured below), founder of Los Angeles-based StartEngine.

Relan made his mark in social gaming by spinning out or starting companies such as OpenFeint, Sibblingz (now Spaceport.io), CrowdStar, and iSwifter. Marks, the former chief executive of Activision, was an executive at Playdom and served as CEO at Acclaim Games and eMind.

The demos will take place on May 1 at YouWeb’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. The invite-only event will feature presentations from a variety of startups, including a number that are in stealth mode. The companies hail from industries including mobile, social, gaming, education, entertainment, and e-commerce.

“This is Hollywood and Silicon Valley actually working together,” said YouWeb Chairman Peter Relan. “We think that StartEngine taps into a different eco-system that complements ours here in Silicon Valley. In fact, our event is a vanguard of the inevitable convergence of technology, education, entertainment, and gaming.”

Relan said he believes that education, entertainment, and gaming will all converge soon, and that’s another reason for the alliance.

YouWeb was founded in 2007 and focuses on gaming, education, and entertainment ventures. It sold OpenFeint to Japan’s Gree for $104 million.

[Photo credits: Dean Takahashi and Liz H. Kelly]

GamesBeat 2012 is VentureBeat’s fourth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. This year we’re calling on speakers from the hottest mobile, social, PC, and console companies to debate new ways to stay on pace with changing consumer tastes and platforms. Join 500+ execs, investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, and press as we explore the gaming industry’s latest trends and newest monetization opportunities. The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, and you can get your early-bird tickets here.

Filed under: deals, dev, games, gbunfiltered, VentureBeat

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Battleground Lyari: 19 dead as operation enters third day

By Web Desk
Published: April 29, 2012

SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan says police have covered almost 70% of the violence-hit areas of Lyari. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: At least 19 people including three police officials have been killed while 50 sustained injuries during the police operation in Lyari that entered its third day on Sunday.

The sound of gunshots echoed in the neighbourhoods of Lyari as the police combated heavily armed miscreants who confronted the police with rocket launchers and grenades. The police rounded off tens of wanted criminals during the operation.

Heavy firing continued on the third day in Cheek Chowk and Ghaas Mandi areas in particular. Three out of four armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were destroyed in attacks from gangsters since the operation began. However, police repaired them and started using them again.

The residents of Lyari, fearful of escalating violence and deprived of food, started migrating to safer places.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police Crime Investigation Department Chaudhry Aslam Khan, the police had covered almost 70% of the violence-hit areas of Lyari.

The Home Ministry of Sindh issued arrest warrant for Uzair Jan Baloch, a former chief of Peoples Amn Committee. Baloch announced earlier on Saturday that he was quitting the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in protest against the police action.

The police claimed that it will soon enter Baloch’s house to arrest him.

Late fees and charges still apply

from the SXXboard - FalkirkBairn

CANCEL YOUR CREDIT CARD BEFORE YOU DIE ....... JUST PRICELESS

Reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle:

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! This is so priceless. And so easy to see happening - customer service, being what it is today!

A lady died this last September, and MBNA bank billed her in October and November for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then in December added late fees and interest on the monthly charge.

The balance that had been £0.00, now is somewhere around - £60.00.

A family member rang MBNA:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you that my grandmother died in September.'

MBNA: 'But the account was never closed and so the late fees and charges still apply..'

Family Member: 'Maybe, you should turn it over to your collections section.'

MBNA: ‘Since it is two months over due, it already has been.'

Family Member: ‘So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'

MBNA: 'Either report her account to the Frauds Department or report her to The Credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be upset with her?'

MBNA: 'Excuse me?'

Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you . . The part about her being dead?'

MBNA: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm phoning to tell you, she died in September.'

MBNA: 'But the account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'

MBNA: (Stammer) 'Are you her solicitor?'

Family Member: 'No, I'm her grandson'

MBNA: 'Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'

Family Member: 'Well, if you sort it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don't think she will care.'

MBNA: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'

Family Member: ‘Would you like her new mailing address?'

MBNA: 'That would help.'

Family Member: ' Plot 1049.' Heaton Cemetery, Heaton Road , Newcastle upon Tyne

MBNA: 'But, that's a cemetery!'

Family Member: 'Well, what the f*** do you do with dead people on your planet?'

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Aghan provincial governor's compound under attack: New commander faces challenge of winding down Afghanistan war

Updated 25 minutes ago
[Aghan provincial governor's compound under attack]

[Print]
ShareThisNew 0 0 Email0

KANDAHAR: The governor's compound in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province came under attack Saturday.

At least one attacker was exchanging fire with Afghan security forces inside the compound, while a NATO helicopter was hovering overhead, the report said. (AFP) ============ New commander faces challenge of winding down Afghanistan war Tue, Dec 04 13:55 PM EST By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, who takes over as head of international forces in Afghanistan next year, faces the challenge of winding down a war in a country where he has little experience using a strategy he did not devise. Dunford, whose nomination was confirmed by the Senate on Monday night, will be the fifth commander of the International Security Assistance Force since President Barack Obama took office, a leadership churn that worries Afghan war analysts. Friends and colleagues describe Dunford, the Marine Corps assistant commandant, as a calm and thoughtful leader who earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" on the battlefields of Iraq by creating conditions for success with careful planning and harmonious execution. But analysts expressed mixed views on his selection to replace Marine Corps General John Allen. Some worry about the No. 2 Marine's lack of experience in Afghanistan and his vocal support for President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw most U.S. forces by the end of 2014. That could make him reluctant to ask for more time and troops if conditions on the ground are not right for a stable transition, they say. But others contend that after a dozen years of war, Dunford's job is to execute the strategy he has been given, not reinvent it. And while he may be able to suggest some adjustments to the plan, he has very little room for maneuver as members of the 46-nation coalition edge toward departure. "The problem is at this point nobody is going to fight it. It's the strategy. It's not his choice," said Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "For good or evil, the question is: How does he manage the shift towards an exit." "FIGHTING JOE" Dunford, a Boston native, is a 35-year veteran of the Marines. He was commissioned as an officer in 1977 and he served as a platoon and company commander for several years before moving to administrative roles. He holds two master's degrees and is a graduate of the elite Army Ranger School. As the United States moved toward war with Iraq in 2003, Dunford - then a colonel - found himself in the First Marine Expeditionary Force serving as commander of Regimental Combat Team 5, the unit that would lead the U.S. invasion, seize the Rumaila oil fields and then head toward Baghdad. When officials advanced the timing of the invasion by a day, Dunford had his forces ready to move in three hours. He kicked off the assault with a nighttime crossing of the 10-foot berm and anti-tank ditch separating Iraq and Kuwait, moving in darkness rather than at dawn as initially planned. "He earned the Fighting Joe title by his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he led the initial attack into Iraq (crossing the berm on the accelerated timeline) and leading all the way to Baghdad," said General James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command, who was Dunford's commander in Iraq. "He's not flashy, but he's the fighter - one I could always count on when the going got difficult," Mattis said in an email. "He is tactically cunning and does a superb job at setting his subordinate commanders up for success by orchestrating complex battle plans into harmonious actions." Congressman Duncan Hunter, who served in the Marines in Iraq and occasionally had a chance to interact with Dunford, said the commander was seen as "a decisive leader who was well-respected by subordinates and peers throughout the chain of command." "In a stressful, combat environment he proved himself to be an accomplished and energetic warrior," Hunter said in an email. Since the war Dunford has moved rapidly up the chain of command. He became a brigadier general in 2004, was selected to become a major general in December 2007 and then promoted to lieutenant general two months later, before Congress had acted to confirm his second star. "That in itself will give you an idea of how he was seen in the Marine Corps," said Marine Colonel David Lapan, a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has worked for Dunford and been his neighbor. He has a "great reputation as a combat commander, as an operational commander, very even-keeled, measured, analytical," Lapan said. While his combat experience is not in Afghanistan, the differences are not that great and he can bring a fresh perspective to the situation, Lapan said. SOME QUESTIONS But some Afghan war analysts are concerned about Dunford's appointment, saying his support for Obama's withdrawal strategy will make it difficult for him to adjust the drawdown based on conditions on the ground. "He was in a very small minority among senior military officers in articulating that President Obama's Afghanistan strategy and the notion of firm deadlines could work," said Michael Rubin, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. "He has never explained ... how or why he thinks it could work." Dunford will have to guide international forces through a series of critical milestones over the coming two years, starting with Afghan forces taking over the lead role for the country's security next summer. The presidential election in the spring of 2014 is viewed as essential to ensuring Afghan support for the government once international forces withdraw. And Dunford also must manage the drawdown of U.S. and international forces and the transition to full Afghan control by the end of 2014. "All too often when officials talk about the transition, they just talk in terms of numbers and the actual Afghans doing security and fighting," Rubin said. "But to really have transition and independence, you need a lot in the background." Afghan National Security Forces still lack important specialty skills, from intelligence, logistics and communications to maintenance, engineering and accounting, he said. Medical support is a "huge example." "When we're fighting with the Afghans and the Afghans get wounded, we triage them, evacuate them, that sort of thing. They have no capability of that on their own. We haven't focused on it in transition," Rubin said. Ultimately the issue is whether withdrawal from Afghanistan will take place as Afghan security forces acquire the skills they need to defend the country, or whether it will move ahead according to a political timeline, he said. "Most generals are looking at the capabilities," Rubin said. "Dunford is the exception. He appears to be looking at the politics." But Cordesman said Dunford's job in Afghanistan is to execute the policy approved by the White House, the Pentagon and NATO and he has little flexibility in the matter. "The purpose of a commander is not to tell the president what to do," he said. "The purpose of a commander is to do the task he's assigned as well as he possibly can." He said he believed Dunford would be able to "tell the president bad news or make recommendations that indicated we had to change the way in which we exit ... or the timing." "This is certainly not somebody who would simply accept or follow orders regardless of conditions," he said. "But it is obvious that no commander at this point is going to come in ... charged with reexamining and reinventing the strategy." (Editing by Cynthia Osterman) =======

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sectarian clash: At least 10 injured in Khairpur crossfire

By Sarfaraz Memon
Published: April 27, 2012

DIG Khairpur says clerics from both sects will be drawn into negotiations to settle the matter 'once and for all'.

KHAIRPUR: At least 10 people were injured on Friday in a crossfire during clashes that sparked late Thursday night between the members of Shia and Sunni sects.

Deputy Commissioner Khairpur Ghulam Abbas Baloch said that the clashes began when Sunni-owned shops were set ablaze in retaliation to a Shia-owned paan kiosk being set on fire.

Baloch said that the police resorted to shelling in order to control the situation. He added that the people who are involved in inciting the clash will be arrested for interrogation.

He revealed that people were firing at each other while hiding inside their houses.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Sukkur Dr Amir Ahmed, while claiming that the situation was “95% under control”, rejected reports of imposing a curfew in the area and said that the people were only asked to remain in their houses for the time being.

He said that clerics from both the sects will be drawn into negotiations and that this time the police will settle the matter “once and for all”.

DIG Ahmed said that the Shia and Sunni sects in Khairpur district continued to clash with each other despite recurring dialogues that were put into place.

“This time around, the police will take action.”

Sources said that on Thursday night, members of the Shia sect opened fire at a Sunni mosque while a sermon was underway, which stirred tension between the two sects.

People from both the sects set alight shops in Naya Goth, Panjpulla Chowk, Achi Khohi, Mohalla Ali Murad areas.

Assailants also attempted to set ablaze a crockery shop owned by former senator Pakistan Muslim League – Funtional (PML-F) Chaudhry Sajid Hussain Zaidi, but police had thwarted the attempt.

A heavy contingent of Rangers and police has been deployed in different areas of Khairpur.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Iraq Contracts Boost Nessco Results

Posted on 26 April 2012. Tags: 'Your Country' - United Kingdom, Nessco, Scotland, Telecommunications
Iraq Contracts Boost Nessco Results

Telecoms networks company Nessco Group of Scotland reports that it has almost doubled its turnover from £16.8m to £33.1m, for the year ending April 2012.

During the year, the company secured two new contracts worth a total of £7 million in Iraq.

The first project will support a new offshore manifold and metering platform in Basra. Nessco is providing a full range of telecoms systems to keep the platform fully connected from satellite and meteorological systems to CCTV, telephone and radio technology.

The second project is for a large development at the Majnoon oilfield, with the first stage including voice and data systems, internet, security and meteorological technology.

The systems are being built by a team of engineers at Nessco Group’s headquarters in Westhill, Aberdeenshire.

(Source: Finding Petroleum)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Home prices seeing some signs of stability

Tue, Apr 24 12:43 PM EDT
image

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The housing market is seeing hints of stabilization, with February home prices rising for the first time in 10 months, according to a survey on Tuesday, while a measure of consumer confidence last month fell more than expected.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.2 percent in February from January on a seasonally adjusted basis, matching economists' forecasts.

It was the first time prices have risen since April 2011. That gain was itself an anomaly in a string of declines stretching back to May 2010.

Still, the report was far from suggesting that problems in the battered sector were over. Average home prices across the country were back to late 2002 levels, the report said, as the non-seasonally adjusted 20-city index fell 0.8 percent to 134.20, the lowest since October 2002.

"Even with today's data, the broad prospect for home prices is at best flat over the course of the year," said Tom Porcelli, chief economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

"And as much as we have had progress with the supply and demand imbalance, it is still a challenge to gather any momentum here."

Robert Shiller, co-creator of the home price index, said the housing market is likely to remain weak and may take a generation or more to rebound.

"I worry that we might not see a really major turnaround in our lifetimes," Shiller said on Reuters Insider, calling the day's home price data a mixed bag.

Data from the Conference Board showed its index of consumer attitudes edged down to 69.2 from a downwardly revised 69.5 in March.

Expectations for prices in the coming year cooled to 5.8 percent from 6.2 percent. March's inflation expectation was originally reported as 6.3, the highest level since May 2010.

Wall Street saw little reaction immediately after the data with stocks getting a boost in the late morning from corporate earnings.

Earnings results from a round of large manufacturers on Tuesday topped Wall Street's expectations, as recovering domestic demand helped offset a weak European economy and slowing growth in China.

A separate, government report showed new single-family home sales sagged in March to their lowest level in four months, but sales in the prior three months were revised higher.

The Commerce Department said March sales slipped 7.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 328,000-unit annual rate. February's sales pace was revised higher to 353,000 units, the fastest pace since November 2009, from the previously reported 313,000 units.

"The conditions in housing are still extremely weak, but there are some very subtle, less negative, signs suggesting stabilization there," said Sean Incremona, economist at 4Cast Ltd in New York.

Six years after home prices started to crumble, the housing market remains a thorn in the side of the economy. Ongoing foreclosures, tight credit and a dearth of buyers have kept the sector on the ropes.

Economists say a meaningful recovery in housing is still a long way off and will show a regional disparity as some areas improve more quickly than others.

The beleaguered housing market has also been a concern for the Federal Reserve. The central bank begins its two-day meeting on Tuesday, and investors will be keen for any insight on whether the central bank will provide more stimulus for the economy.

The Fed releases its statement on Wednesday. It has held interest rates at near-zero since late 2008 and has purchased more than $2 trillion in long-term securities as part of its efforts to bolster the fragile economic recovery.

The central bank has said it will likely keep rates at ultra-low levels at least through 2014.


ATLANTA, LAS VEGAS PRICES TUMBLE

Prices in the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index fell 3.5 percent year over year, moderating from the previous month's decline of 3.8 percent.

Prices dropped in seven of the cities on a seasonally adjusted basis, while prices in two cities were unchanged. On an unadjusted basis, 16 of the areas slumped further.

Home prices in Las Vegas and Atlanta were both back to levels seen in December 1996.

(Additional reporting by Jason Lange in Washington, Julie Haviv and Steven C. Johnson in New York; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

PM contempt: No contempt of court law present in Pakistan, says AG

By Web Desk
Published: April 24, 2012

AG says certain sections of media reporting against him, trying to create pressure in the case. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Presenting his arguments against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the contempt case, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir said on Tuesday that there is no contempt of court law present in Pakistan.

Speaking before a seven-member bench, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, Qadir said that a section of the media was reporting against him, alleging that he had sided with the premier’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan and was trying to bail out Gilani.

The AG gave the reference of Section 8 (2) and said that the court can release orders to stop such reporting.

He also informed the bench that some reports had mentioned Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry saying that “robbers have been made ministers”, and said that such a statement cannot be attributed to the chief justice.

Qadir said that such media reports were creating pressure in the case and were trying to influence the court proceedings.

Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani questioned the AG if he thought that the court was being influenced, who replied that even if the court wasn’t getting influenced, he found the statements offensive and prayed to the court to take action against them.

He said that since he has been made a prosecutor in the case, he will present his arguments independently, without getting influenced from anyone.

Justice Mulk asked him to provide the copies of the United Nations guidelines that he was reading from. The AG said that he did not get time, otherwise he would have provided copies to the court.

=======

Gilani’s fate to be decided tomorrow


Sohail Khan
Wednesday, April 25, 2012



ISLAMABAD: The mega legal drama entered its final act on Tuesday when the Supreme Court reserved its judgment in the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and summoned the premier tomorrow (Thursday) for announcing the verdict.



A seven-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, while hearing the case reserved the judgment and ruled that the verdict will be announced tomorrow (Thursday).



Attorney General Irfan Qadir, who is the prosecutor in the instant case, while arguing before the court, termed the charge sheet against the premier baseless and contended that the court could not ask the premier directly to write the letter to the Swiss authorities.



He further contended that there was no proof of contempt against the prime minister, adding that no law exists in the country under which premier Gilani could be served with a contempt notice.



Irfan Qadir further contended that the Swiss cases, earlier closed, cannot be reopened by writing a letter. He argued that Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 was not approved by parliament. He said the SC bench hearing the case should refer the matter to the chief justice so that he could form a 17-member larger bench on the matter.



Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, however, reminded the attorney general that under the said ordinance, the court had given several judgments.



Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany asked the AG as to whether those judgments, given under the contempt ordinance, were wrong. The AG said the court was wrongly assisted in those judgments.



Justice Khosa observed that even if there is no law available, article 204 is there. He further said that the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 was given protection under article 270.Irfan Qadir stressed upon the court to show restraint and save the institutions from collision. He contended that it was his utmost responsibility to save the institutions.



During the course of the hearing when Irfan Qadir repeatedly argued that the closed Swiss cases couldn't be reopened, Justice Khosa said cases were closed after Malik Qayyum, former Attorney General, wrote the letter to Swiss authorities.



Irfan Qadir contended that the court has taken over all the matters of NAB into its hands, adding that the court should know well that NAB has a right of appeal too. He contended that when Malik Qayyum wrote the letter at that time NRO was enforced, adding that the present case is based upon the matters of Malik Qayyum.



The AG further contended that the court had not asked directly for writing letter to Swiss authorities. He said under article 248, the prime minister has also got immunity from appearing before the court.



At one point, Justice Khosa reminded the AG that all the aspects have been closed after the review judgment. Irfan Qadir said that review is not the issue here but the contempt. "We should together work not only for Pakistan but for the judiciary as well," he said, adding that the court should apply judicial restraint and withdraw the case against Premier Gilani."We need to move forward for national reconciliation to save the institutions of the country", he said. The AG read out paras 177, 178 and 179 of the NRO judgment.



Justice Osmany, however, told the AG that they wanted to get back the Swiss money belonging to the people of this country. "The money belongs to you, to me and our children, don't you want that the money which could be utilised for constructing schools, colleges and hospitals for the welfare of this country," Justice Osmany asked the AG. The AG said they want to implement the court's order. "Then why don't you write the letter?" Justice Osmany asked AG.



When AG begin to read para 179 of NRO judgment, Justice Nasirul Mulk asked the AG to ignore that as it is not related to the present proceedings.When Justice Nasirul Mulk reminded the AG that the government claims to have implemented court order except 178 of NRO judgment, Irfan Qadir said that the government told a lie before the court, adding that he will tell the court the stage where the government told a lie.



During the hearing, Irfan Qadir also told the court that being a sub judice matter, Justice (R) Khalilur Rehman Ramday spoke on TV regarding the issue. Justice Osmany said that Justice Ramday gave interview after his retirement. He asked the AG that he too can give interview to TV channels. Irfan Qadir replied that he used to stay away from media.



At one point Justice Khosa observed that they were not fond of serving contempt of court notice on anyone but were only interested in implementation of their orders. Later on, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for the premier in the contempt case, in his rebuttal submitted before the court stated that some confusion has arisen while the court has taken up both the criminal case as well as implementation case.



He submitted that the court's verdict should be implemented in letter and spirit, however, the court should not stress on writing a letter to the Swiss authorities as by writing a letter, the federation would be affected.



He contended that being the head of the state and supreme commander of the armed forces, President Asif Ali Zardari has got immunity under the international law from the jurisdiction of all the domestic courts world over in the criminal and civil matters. Hence, he submitted that the court should not insist on writing a letter to Swiss authorities as long as Asif Ali Zardari is President of Pakistan.



He requested the court to acquit the premier in contempt case.Later, talking to reporters outside the court, Aitzaz said if Gilani is convicted, he could face imprisonment of six months. However, he said the premier could even be acquitted in the case.



Referring to writing letter to Swiss authorities, Aitzaz said the letter could be written but not at this stage as the president enjoyed complete immunity under the international law from the jurisdiction of all the domestic courts worldwide.



Online adds: Aitzaz said he anticipates justice rather than favour from the Supreme Court. He said in criminal proceeding "every benefit of doubt goes to the accused.""Since the honourable judges, hearing the contempt case, are also sitting in the original bench of NRO implementation, the question of jurisdiction arises," he said referring to the maxim of "no body can sit as a judge for his own cause."



Responding the question of his perceived acquaintance with Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Aitzaz said, "I stand by everyone who is in need. I must mention here that it was only because of Justice Iftikhar's resistance to former dictator General (R) Musharraf that we are having democracy now in the country," he maintained. Thus, he added, he anticipates justice from the court as against anything else.


==============

PPP’s plans: Despite conviction, Gilani will continue as premier – Dr Asim is likely backup
By Abdul Manan
Published: April 25, 2012

PPP members are calculating each and every move they might have to take if the Supreme court goes ahead and convicts the PM.
LAHORE:

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has held exhaustive discussions on the possible outcomes and how exactly they will deal with each scenario emerging in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in the contempt case against the prime minister.

There is one similarity between all its strategies, sources told The Express Tribune: Yousaf Raza Gilani will remain prime minister for at least five more months – come what may.

According to sources, the top leadership of the PPP has been briefed by the prime minister’s legal team.

If convicted, the premier may be given up to a six-month sentence, but may also be sentenced “till the rise of the court” – that is, no actual jail time, the legal team told the PPP leadership.

Whatever the sentence may be, Prime Minster Gilani will not seek pardon from President Asif Ali Zardari – who can, under Article 45, can waive a sentence.

Even in a situation whereby the sentence is six months, the interior minister will immediately declare the Prime Minister House a sub-jail – and Gilani will go directly there.

Indeed, according to sources, it isn’t the sentencing that worries the PPP – it is his status as prime minister following a conviction.

Fawad Chaudhry, while talking with The Express Tribune, said that, constitutionally, the prime minister can be removed from his office in three ways: resignation, a vote of no confidence or if he no longer remains an MNA.

For starters, sources said, PPP will move under Article 94 to keep Gilani in office. Article 94 states: “The president may ask the prime minister to hold office until his successor enters upon the office of prime minister.”

As for his status as a member of the National Assembly (MNA), upon which his premiership is obviously contingent, the legal team’s briefings maintain that Gilani’s actual disqualification will be handled under Article 63(1) h, which states that a member can be disqualified if “he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.” Or even 63(1)g which states that an MNA can be disqualified if, “he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan…”

The disqualification, according to most analyses, will be in the hands of the Speaker of the National Assembly. The speaker will have to move a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking Gilani’s disqualification as an MNA. The speaker can hold the reference for up to 30 days before it is automatically sent to the ECP. The ECP then has up to 90 days to finalise the disqualification.

That’s about four months of a process.

In addition, according to Chaudhry, if Gilani is convicted, he has right of appeal and, till the decision, the president may ask him to continue his office. He said that, if the appeal is rejected, then the speaker will move forward Gilani’s reference of disqualification to ECP.

However, there is yet another school of thought on this matter, which was also included in the briefings. This theory holds that a sentencing, of any length, would carry an inbuilt disqualification – and there would be no procedural requirements for the disqualification.

Advocate Azhar Saddique says that under unusual circumstances such as in a contempt case, Gilani’s disqualification would be automatic under article 63(1)g. He says that Gilani would leave the court as an MNA not as prime minister – and the process will only be to determine his future as an MNA.


PPP’s strategy

If Gilani is convicted, counsels would go for a direct appeal against the verdict within 30 days and would try to get a stay order against Giani’s sentence. If they fail, that’s when the president will step in with Article 94.

If push comes to shove and someone challenges the president’s move to ask Gilani to stay on as prime minister, or if the court continues to press the government on the matter, there is another plan.

According to sources, the PPP-led coalition would in all probability nominate Federal Minister for Petroleum Senator Dr Asim Hussain as prime minister as a last resort. Since Hussain is a senator, and the prime minister cannot come from the Senate, he will need to be elected on an MNA seat. In this process, a Sindh-based MNA would be asked to resign and make way for Hussain, who would then contest the vacant seat.

This entire process would also take months.

And when that time is about to expire, Gilani will announce a caretaker setup, sources said.

PPP’s protest

In the meantime, the PPP will make hay.

Sources said that waves of PPP workers would accompany the prime minister to the court on Thursday. Following a conviction, they said that PPP would organise public gatherings in south Punjab, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir where court’s ruling would be condemned.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2012.

================

Pakistan PM convicted of contempt, receives no jail time
Thu, Apr 26 02:11 AM EDT
image

By Mahawish Rezvi

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday found Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president, but gave him only a symbolic sentence of a few minutes' detention in the courtroom.

It was unclear if the token sentence would defuse political uncertainty in Pakistan, where the president and prime minister have jousted with the military and judiciary. Despite the light sentence, Gilani could still come under pressure to quit.

"For reasons to be recorded later, the prime minister is found guilty of contempt for willfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court," said Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk.

Gilani is the first serving prime minister in Pakistan's history to be convicted by a court, but his sentence - detention lasting just a few minutes until the session was adjourned - was symbolic. He could have faced up to six months in jail and the loss of office.

"I think what they've done is taken it from the legal arena and chucked it into the political arena," said Cyril Almeida, a prominent columnist for the Dawn daily newspaper.

He said opposition members of parliament now might move to expel Gilani from office.

"There will be massive pressure from the opposition, the media, from civil society, saying 'He's been convicted for flouting the letter of the law and he should go home,'" Almeida said. "There will be a lot of pressure for him to resign."


MONEY-LAUNDERING CASES

A throng of supporters surrounded Gilani as he walked into the court in Islamabad, showering him with rose petals. Security was tight, with about 1,000 police officers standing by in riot gear and helicopters circling the Supreme Court building.

Gilani's lawyers had said before the verdict that he would not automatically be disqualified from office if convicted, and at any rate he would be able to appeal against the verdict.

The case stems from what many observers say is a political battle between the government and the military, which has held the whip hand in Pakistan's political arena for most of the country's 64 years of independence. Many say the army is using the court to keep the government on the back foot.

Thousands of corruption cases were thrown out in 2007 by an amnesty law passed under former military president Pervez Musharraf, which paved the way for a return to civilian rule. Two years later, the Supreme Court ruled that agreement illegal and ordered cases involving Swiss banks against President Asif Ali Zardari re-opened.

Gilani and his government have refused to obey the court's order to write to Swiss authorities asking them to re-open money laundering cases against Zardari. The government argues that Zardari has immunity as the head of state.

"This is a historic day. The court has declared a lawmaker a lawbreaker. This is weakening democracy in Pakistan," said Firdous Ashiq Awan, former information minister.

(Additional reporting by Qasim Nauman; Writing by Chris Allbritton; Editing by John Chalmers)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

‘Iran, beating heart of anti-imperialism’

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 14:34:10 GMT

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran lies at the center of a growing movement that is against categorizing countries as domineering and dominated.

“After seeping into the minds and bodies of Muslim nations for more than three decades, this very important movement has now surfaced in the form of a concentrated power, whose results are the developments in Egypt and some other countries,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with the commanders of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces on Sunday.

The Leader said bullying powers are hostile toward the Iranian nation because it is a source of inspiration for the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

Ayatollah Khamenei said while the Armies of hegemonic powers only seek to safeguard the superpowers and cater to their political greed, “the Iranian Army is the only one that is at the service of the people and national interests.”

“Is the US Army really after serving the interests of the American people by killing the Iraqi and Afghan people and committing crimes in these countries?” the Leader asked.
-ديدار با نخست وزير عراق

اخبار برگزیده

رييس جمهور صبح امروز (سه شنبه) در هفدهمين جشنواره تحقيقاتي علوم پزشكي رازي از 44 برگزيده اين جشنواره در گروههاي مختلف علوم پايه، علوم باليني داخلي، علوم باليني جراحي، علوم دارويي، علوم بهداشتي، مديريت و تغذيه ، علوم توانبخشي و پيراپزشكي، علوم دندانپزشكي، فناوري هاي نوين، ابداعات و اختراعات و HFR تجليل كرد. تجليل از 44 برگزيده جشنواره رازي توسط رييس جمهور
دكتر فرهاد دانشجو كه از جانب هيات امناي دانشگاه آزاد اسلامي براي تصدي رياست اين دانشگاه به شوراي عالي انقلاب فرهنگي معرفي شده بود با راي اعتماد اعضاي شوراي عالي انقلاب فرهنگي براي يك دوره چهار ساله به رياست دانشگاه آزاد منصوب شد و اعضاي شوراي عالي انقلاب فرهنگي ابراز اميدواري كردند كه با رياست فرهاد دانشجو بر دانشگاه آزاد اسلامي جايگاه اين دانشگاه ارتقا يابد.راي اعتماد شوراي عالي انقلاب فرهنگي به دكتر فرهاد دانشجو براي رياست دانشگاه آزاد اسلامي

رييس جمهوري اسلامي ايران و نخست وزير عراق با اشاره به نقش و جايگاه سازنده و ممتاز دو كشور در منطقه، بر استفاده از تمامي ظرفيت‌هاي موجود خود در راستاي گسترش سطح روابط دوجانبه و تلاش براي برطرف كردن مشكلات منطقه به نفع ملت‌ها و برقراري صلح و عدالت تأكيد كردند.

دكتراحمدي‌نژاد و نخست وزير عراق تأكيد كردند:

تلاش براي برقراري صلح و امنيت در منطقه و گسترش سطح روابط همه جانبه

رييس جمهوري اسلامي ايران و نخست وزير عراق با اشاره به نقش و جايگاه سازنده و ممتاز دو كشور در منطقه، بر استفاده از تمامي ظرفيت‌هاي موجود خود در راستاي گسترش سطح روابط دوجانبه و تلاش براي برطرف كردن مشكلات منطقه به نفع ملت‌ها و برقراري صلح و عدالت تأكيد كردند.

شناسه خبر: 37004 -

يکشنبه 3 ارديبهشت 1391 - 18:27
دكتر محمود احمدي‌نژاد عصر امروز (يكشنبه) در ديدار نوري المالكي نخست وزير عراق با اشاره به اينكه دو ملت ايران و عراق مأموريت‌هاي بزرگ منطقه‌اي و بين‌المللي بر عهده دارند، تأكيد كرد: اگر تهران و بغداد قدرتمند و باعزت باشند، ديگر در منطقه جايي براي حضور دشمنان ملت‌ها از جمله آمريكا و رژيم صهيونيستي وجود نخواهد داشت.

رييس‌جمهور روابط تهران – بغداد را در منطقه و جهان ويژه و استثنايي برشمرد و اظهار داشت: هيچ مانع و محدوديتي در مسير توسعه مناسبات همه جانبه سياسي، اقتصادي و فرهنگي و حضور در عرصه‌هاي منطقه‌اي و جهاني ميان جمهوري اسلامي ايران و عراق وجود ندارد.

دكتر احمدي‌نژاد تصريح كرد: به فضل الهي دو ملت ايران و عراق در كنار يكديگر پيشرفت كرده و با حفظ هوشياري از موجوديت و استقلال خود مقتدرانه دفاع خواهند كرد و توطئه‌هاي دشمنان براي ايجاد اختلاف، ترس و وحشت با توسل به اقداماتي موذيانه نظير ترور‌ و بمب‌گذاري، قطعاً به جايي نخواهد رسيد.

رييس‌جمهور با تأكيد بر اينكه مستكبران و دشمنان ملت ايران و عراق، از اقتدار و استقلال دو كشور نگران و ناراحت هستند، گفت: سلطه‌گران كه سابقه سيلي خوردن از دو ملت را در کارنامه خود دارند، با فتنه‌انگيزي و ايجاد اختلاف‌به دنبال اين هستند كه كشورهايي نظير ايران و عراق همواره ضعيف باشند تا بتوانند تمام منطقه را تحت سيطره و تسلط خود در آورند.

دكتر احمدي‌نژاد در ادامه با اشاره به روابط عميق و گسترده دو ملت ايران و عراق بر تقويت هر چه بيشتر مناسبات و همكاري‌هاي دوجانبه تأكيد كرد و گفت: حضور دولتي مردمي، مصمم و انقلابي در عراق كه در جهت بازسازي و ارتقاء سطح اين كشور به جايگاه شايسته خود تلاش مي‌كند، ظرفيت همكاري دو كشور را بيش از پيش افزايش داده است.

رييس‌جمهور با بيان اينكه خوشبختانه ملت عراق با مديريت خوب مسئولان اين كشور سختي‌ها را پشت سر گذاشته و به سمت آباداني و پيشرفت در حركت است، گفت: امروز تمامي عوامل تاريخي، فرهنگي و سياسي موجود در روابط ايران و عراق اقتضاء مي‌كنند كه دو كشور در كنار يكديگر در جهت رشد و تعالي دو ملت گام بردارند.

رييس‌جمهور با اشاره به اينكه با اراده و تلاش مسئولان ايراني و عراقي سطح مناسبات في‌مابين به سرعت در حال گسترش است، اظهار داشت: با ياري خداوند در آينده‌اي نزديك همگان شاهد قرار گرفتن جمهوري اسلامي ايران و جمهوري عراق در اوج پيشرفت، اقتدار و عزت خواهند بود.

نوري المالكي نخست‌وزير عراق نيز در اين ديدار با اشاره به روابط ممتاز جمهوري اسلامي ايران و عراق بر گسترش روابط همه جانبه با جمهوري اسلامي ايران تأكيد كرد و گفت: دو كشور با استفاده از تجربيات و توانمندي‌هاي خود مي‌توانند گام هاي بلندي را در مسير رشد و پيشرفت دو ملت و ملت‌هاي منطقه برداشته و اثرگذاري مثبت و سازنده‌اي بر تحولات موجود داشته باشند.

نخست‌وزير عراق با تأكيد بر ضرورت ايجاد تفاهم و همدلي در منطقه، اظهار داشت: جمهوري اسلامي ايران و جمهوري عراق مي‌توانند با همكاري يكديگر در جهت كمك به ايجاد ثبات و امنيت در منطقه تلاش كرده و چالش‌هاي موجود را با تفاهم و در نظر گرفتن احترام به حقوق ملت‌ها برطرف كنند.

وي تصريح كرد: افزايش بيش از پيش رايزني‌ها و هماهنگي‌هاي سياسي تهران – بغداد مي‌تواند نقش مهم و تأثيرگذاري در روند برقراري صلح و ثبات در منطقه داشته باشد.

============

Israel ex-spy warns against "messianic" war on Iran
Sat, Apr 28 14:58 PM EDT
image

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A former Israeli spymaster has branded the country's leaders as "messianic" and unfit to tackle the Iranian nuclear program, in the strongest criticism from a security veteran of threats to launch a pre-emptive war.

Other retired officials have also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, but the censure from Yuval Diskin, who stepped down as head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service last year, was especially harsh.

He was also unusual in using the language of religious fervor that Israelis associate with their Islamist foes.

"I have no faith in the prime minister, nor in the defence minister," Diskin said in the remarks broadcast by Israeli media on Saturday. "I really don't have faith in a leadership that makes decisions out of messianic feelings."

Government officials rebuked Diskin and questioned his motives, implying that he had his eye on a political career or was settling scores after Netanyahu denied him a promotion.

The catastrophic terms with which Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak describe the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran have stirred concern in Israel and abroad of a possible strike against its uranium enrichment program.

Iran says the project is entirely peaceful and has promised wide-ranging reprisals for any attack.

World powers, sharing Israeli suspicions that Iran has a covert bomb-making plan, are trying to curb it through sanctions and negotiations. Those talks resume in Baghdad on May 23, but Barak on Thursday rated their chance of succeeding as low.

Although Israel has long threatened a pre-emptive strike if diplomacy fails, some experts believe that could be a bluff to keep up pressure on the Iranians, making it harder to interpret the swirl of comments from the security establishment.

FALSE IMPRESSION

Commenting on Diskin's remarks, Amos Harel of the liberal Haaretz newspaper said the temperature was rising in anticipation of the nuclear talks.

"Nothing has been determined in the Iranian story, and the spring is about to boil over into another summer of tension," said Harel.

Diskin spoke days after Israel's top military commander, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, told Haaretz he viewed Iran as "very rational" and unlikely to build a bomb, comments that apparently undermined the case for a strike.

The former Shin Bet chief was specifically damning of Netanyahu and Barak, who have often crafted strategy alone and whose rapport dates back four decades to when they served together in a top-secret commando unit.

"They're creating a false impression about the Iranian issue," Diskin told a private gathering on Friday, where the comments were recorded. "They're appealing to the stupid public, if you'll pardon me for the phrasing, and telling them that if Israel acts, there won't be an (Iranian) nuclear bomb."


Diskin said he was not necessarily opposed to an attack on Iran, though he cited experts who argue this risked backfiring by accelerating its nuclear program.

Netanyahu's former Mossad foreign intelligence director, Meir Dagan, last year also ridiculed the Israeli war option.

Diskin went a step further by saying that Netanyahu and Barak were not up to the job of opening an unprecedented front with Iran and, potentially, with its allies on Israel's borders.

Netanyahu is a second-term premier with solid public approval ratings and a broad conservative coalition. Barak, a former prime minister, is Israel's most decorated soldier. But they are both technically subject to security vetting by the Shin Bet, which added punch to their panning at Diskin's hands.

"I have seen them up close," he said. "They are not messiahs, the two of them, and they are not people who I personally, at least, trust to be able to lead Israel into an event on such a scale, and to extricate it."


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed Diskin's alarm as irresponsible "speculation," telling Israel's Channel Two TV that such big decisions would be made at cabinet level rather than by the prime minister and defence minister exclusively.

Lieberman said Diskin, who was considered as a potential Dagan successor but was passed over, might be angry. One Barak confidant sarcastically wished Diskin "welcome to political life," implying he was angling for a slot in an opposition party ahead of an Israeli national election scheduled for next year.

(Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
=======

Citi appoints Lodhi as CEO for Pakistan - sources

Sun, Apr 22 09:32 AM EDT

DUBAI, March 28 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc has appointed Nadeem Lodhi as chief executive officer for its Pakistan business and the U.S. banking giant plans to focus more on corporate banking in the country, two sources aware of the matter said.

Lodhi, who joins Citi from Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital, will mainly focus on growing the bank's corporate and investment banking business. At Abraaj, he managed the firm's business in Sub Saharan Africa.

Spokesman for Citi in Dubai declined to comment. Abraaj spokesperson could not be immediately reached.

Citi established its presence in Pakistan in 1961 and today operates in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The bank lead managed the last three consecutive international sovereign bond issues.

Turkish PM lashes out at Iraqi counterpart, denies meddling

21 Apr 2012 21:49

Source: reuters // Reuters

By Ayla Jean Yackley

ISTANBUL, April 21 (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday rejected charges he sought to inflame sectarian divisions in Iraq with recent criticism of its government and accused his Iraqi counterpart of trying to gain "prestige" in an escalating war of words between the neighbours.

The row heated up on Thursday when Erdogan accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of acting "self-centred" and inciting tensions between the country's Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds amid a constitutional crisis in Baghdad.

Maliki in turn branded Turkey a "hostile state" and said Erdogan's remarks "represent another return to flagrant interference in Iraqi internal affairs," according to a statement on his website on Friday.

"We don't differentiate between Sunnis or Shi'ites. Arab, Kurd or Turkmen, they are all our brothers," Erdogan told reporters in comments reported by the NTV news channel.

"If we respond to Mr. Maliki, we give him the opportunity to show off there. There is no need to allow him to gain prestige."

Turkey, which is majority Sunni, has been seen as a key ally and even a role model for Iraq, because of its secular constitution and close relations with the West, including membership in NATO.


Iraq is Turkey's second largest trading partner after Germany, with trade reaching $12 billion last year, more than half of which was with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

INTERFERENCE

Baghdad has occasionally accused Ankara of meddling in its affairs since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria have also been accused of destabilising their neighbour.

The bitter exchange between Maliki and Erdogan came after the Turkish leader met Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region, who has cultivated close relations with Turkey's government.

Erdogan also met Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, who fled Iraq in December after a warrant for his arrest was issued, sparking the current political crisis in Baghdad. Hashemi is wanted on charges he ran death squads.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry weighed in on the dispute and issued a statement that said Turkey has no intention of interfering in Iraq or any other neighbour's internal affairs.

"The foundation of the political crisis in which Iraq finds itself is that Iraqi politicians seek to consolidate power and exclude others, rather than (follow) politics that are based on democratic and universal principles," it said in a statement.

"It is a fact that behind the misperceptions that led to the accusations against Turkey by Prime Minister Maliki, who instigated the crisis in Iraq, this wrong understanding of politics can be found," it said.

As long as they present no obstacles, Turkey seeks friendly relations with its neighbours, the statement also said.

Erdogan previously has warned that Turkey would not remain silent if a sectarian conflict erupted in Iraq. He is also a vocal critic of erstwhile ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown against a largely Sunni uprising.

Turkey is worried that the violence in Syria and growing tensions in Iraq could lead to a wider conflict between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims in the region.

Relations with Iran have also soured over Turkey's opposition toward Tehran's ally Assad.
(Editing by Paul Simao)

==========

Monday, 23 April 2012, 06:56 GMT
Kurdish-Turkish ties stronger than ever


In this photo provided by Turkish Presidency Press Service, President Abdullah Gul, left, greets Iraqi Kurdish Regional leader Massoud Barzani, before a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, April 20, 2012./ AP Photo/Murat Cetinmuhurdar

The Kurdish Globe

Ankara says Iraqi PM too "self- centred" to lead the country

Barzani meets with highest-ranking officials during two-day visit to Turkey.

After concluding a tour of Europe and the United States started in late March, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani arrived in Turkey on April 29 as his last stop before returning to Kurdistan.

President Barzani met with Turkey's highest-ranking officials, including President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkish media described the visit and meetings as "very important" events in the history and future of Kurdish-Turkish relations.

During the first day of his visit, Barzani met with Prime Minister Erdogan and reiterated improving political and economic relations between the two countries.

The two-hour meeting was held in the Prime Minister's office in Istanbul, and was also attended by the head of Kurdistan Region Protection Agency, Masrour Barzani, and Kurdistan Presidency's Chief of Staff, Dr. Foad Hussein, and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) executive Hakan Fidan, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, and Deputy Foreign Minister Fereydun Sinirlioglu from the Turkish side.

During the meeting, both sides agreed that they need to improve their bilateral relations in political, economic and cultural aspects. They also discussed the current political situation in Iraq and the obstacles in front of the political process in the country.

Both leaders discussed the situation of neighboring Syria and their opinions about the Syrian opposition. Barzani reiterated in the meeting that the rights of Syrian Kurds should be recognized. He also explained to Erdogan the purpose and results of his tour to Europe and the U.S.

While discussing the current situation in Iraq, the Turkish PM criticized his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al Maliki and described
his actions as fueling sectarian conflicts among the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis of the country. Erdogan said that this resulted from unilateral decisions and bad behavior with his partners in governing the country.

"The current prime minister's treatment toward his coalition partners, his egocentric approach within Iraqi politics... seriously concern Shiite groups, Mr. Barzani and the Iraqiya group," said Erdogan during a post-meeting press conference.
Erdogan told reporters that the events in Iraq do not have positive indications, especially what is related to the "attitude" of the current Iraqi Prime Minister toward his partners in power. He also added that Maliki's "behavior" has raised concerns among Kurds, Shiites and other political groups in the country.

In a reactionary statement one day after Erdogan's meeting with Barzani, PM Maliki said on Friday that Turkey is becoming a "hostile state" in the region, accusing its prime minister of interfering in internal Iraqi affairs and of sectarianism.

"The latest statements of Erdogan are another return to the process of interfering in Iraqi internal affairs and it confirms that Mr. Erdogan is still living the illusion of regional hegemony," Maliki said in a statement posted on his website.

"It is regrettable that his statements have a sectarian dimension which he used to deny before but that has become clear and is rejected by all Iraqis," Maliki said.


On the second day of the visit, Barzani met with his counterpart, President Gul, and Foreign Minister Davutoglu. The meeting was centered around political situations in Iraq and the region in general and future prospects in this regards.

Both presidents discussed bilateral ties and vowed to improve them in a way that is mutually beneficial for the people of the two countries.

Another topic of the meeting was the Kurdish issue in Turkey, where both sides discussed possible solutions.

"The Turkish government has taken positive steps in the past few years and these acts should be continued and developed," said Barzani, addressing the Kurdish issue in Turkey.

While emphasizing that dialogue is the only solution for this and any other such issues, the Kurdish President refuted reports claiming that he has requested PKK to abandon arms or that he has promised to act as a mediator between PKK and Turkey in Qandil, but stated that arms don't solve the Kurdish issue and other ways should be used in this regard.

Addressing the Kirkuk issue and its future, Barzani said, "Kirkuk people will decide their future by themselves."

During the visit, the Kurdish delegation also met with Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, co-chairmans of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) as well as Ahmet Turk, a Kurdish member of Turkish Parliament.

Barzani also met with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey after he visited a number of Gulf countries.

Hashemi announced, after his meeting with Kurdistan Region's President in Istanbul, that their meeting was mainly about internal political developments in Iraq, Hashemi's recent meetings with Gulf countries' authorities, Kurdistan Region's Europe and U.S. tour as well as his meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister.


Barzani concluded his tour at Turkey and arrived at Erbil International Airport on Friday, April 20, where he was received by a large number of high-ranking government officials.

=============

Iraq opposition seeks to replace PM Maliki

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Iraq’s top political blocs are considering whether to nominate former premier Ibrahim al-Jaafari to the position of Prime Minister.
The anti-PM al-Maliki front in Iraq considers to put his predecessor al-Jaafari in charge if recent negotiations ends in failure. AA Photo

The anti-PM al-Maliki front in Iraq considers to put his predecessor al-Jaafari in charge if recent negotiations ends in failure. AA Photo

İpek Yezdani İpek Yezdani ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

If the current Iraqi Prime Minister fails to agree to increase dialogue with other political entities in Iraq, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari is most likely to be nominated to the post at the upcoming unity meeting, a senior Kurdish official told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.

“Our first goal is to create a new channel of dialogue with [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki to make him consider the other political parties in Iraq. However, if we don’t succeed in this our alternative is to remove al-Maliki and ask the National Iraqi Alliance to nominate someone,” said Cafer Ibrahim, spokesperson for the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who was Prime Minister in the Iraqi Transitional Government from 2005 to 2006, can be an alternative to al-Maliki, Ibrahim said.

Arbil meeting on May 7

Leaders from almost all of Iraq’s top political blocs will convene at a unity meeting in Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, on May 7, in order to find a solution to the political crisis between the Shiite-led government and the country’s Sunnis and Kurds. KRG leader Masoud Barzani, Iraq’s fugitive Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Shiite Sadrist leader Muqtada al-Sadr and other political figures are expected to attend the meeting. “We have done so much about the cabinet of al-Maliki, however, Iraqi people are suffering right now (from the political crisis). Now we have invited all the political parties to the meeting to reach a national solution in Iraq,” Ibrahim said. If the group can make Prime Minister al-Maliki come down to the Arbil meeting and come to an agreement, then they could move forward to next step of creating a solution in the cabinet, Ibrahim said. “If we can not succeed in this, our alternative is to remove al-Maliki. We estimate the right person that all the groups, including the Sunni Al Iraqiye group and the Kurds, can agree upon will be Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He is acceptable by everyone,” said Ibrahim.

May/04/2012

====================

Leading Iraqi lawmakers threaten vote of no confidence

05 May 2012 17:00

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Protest letter delivered to PM Maliki's bloc

* Senior coalition politicians give 15-day deadline on demands

By Raheem Salman

BAGHDAD, May 5 (Reuters) - Four of the most senior political leaders in Iraq's fragile coalition have threatened to bring a vote of no confidence in the government unless "autocratic decision-making" stops, a letter published in a state newspaper on Saturday said.

Iraq's Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd coalition began to creak in December, after U.S. troops left, when the government tried to remove Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

Those incidents intensified long-running tensions between the Sunni and Shi'ite blocs that have hampered the government's ability to pass key legislation.

The Baghdad government and the autonomous Kurdish region are also engaged in a simmering row over oil exports.

The four senior lawmakers - Osama al-Nujaifi, Masoud Barzani, Iyad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr - sent the letter to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's bloc on Thursday, political sources told Reuters.

Some of Maliki's opponents, including Barzani and Sadr, have accused him of becoming a dictator and several of his critics say he deliberately sidelines Sunnis and Kurds.

The letter outlines eight demands to be met by May 13 to ensure the four leaders' support for Maliki's administration.

"In case of a refusal to comply with the principles and frameworks of this agreement, practical steps will be taken, within a period of time not exceeding 15 days, to act upon a vote of no confidence against the government," the letter says.

The letter is dated April 28, the last day of a three-day mini-summit held by the leaders during which they said they tried to find a solution to the political impasse.

Maliki did not attend the meeting, which was held in the Kurdish capital Arbil.

The letter called on the government to stop interfering with the security forces and with the work of parliament and contained a paragraph criticising autocratic decision-making.

"Putting an end to any kind of one-man decision-making in the government pyramid and a tendency towards autocracy," the sixth demand reads.

The letter also demanded that a two-term limit for the post of prime minister be retroactively introduced. Maliki is serving his second four-year term as prime minister.

"(This is necessary) in order to ensure a peaceful transfer of power and to establish the foundations and principles of democracy and in order not to allow a climate of dictatorship," it said.

The sole Shi'ite signatory of the letter, Sadr, has a history of acrimonious relations with Maliki.


Maliki's bloc met on Thursday and pledged to hold a meeting of all of the coalition's political blocs within a week to hammer out a solution to the crisis, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, chairman of the coalition, said in a statement on his website. (Writing by Barry Malone; Editing by Louise Ireland)

============================================

‘In Lebanon, two killed in clashes’

LAST UPDATE

Mon, 21 May 2012 08:03:30 GMT

Lebanese state media say two people have been killed and 18 others injured in clashes between the supporters and opponents of the Syrian government in the capital, Beirut.

The victims died in street fighting in Beirut during the early hours of Monday.

Rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns were used in the clashes, which broke out after reports said that Lebanese army troops shot dead anti-Syria cleric Ahmad Abdel Wahed when the convoy transporting him did not stop at a checkpoint in the town of Koueikhat, located in the northern district of Akkar, on May 20.

Lebanese security officials said another person in the convoy was also killed.

“The leadership of the army expresses deep regrets for the death of the two victims,” the Lebanese army said in a statement issued after the Akkar shooting incident.

The statement added that the army will “immediately form an investigative committee comprised of senior officers and military police under the relevant court” to look into the incident.

The deadly Monday conflict came a few days after one person was killed and several others wounded in clashes between supporters of the Damascus government, from the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of the northern port city of Tripoli, and its opponents, who come from the nearby Bab al-Tibbaneh neighborhood, on May 17.

Fighting between the supporters of the Syrian government and its opponents in Lebanon’s Tripoli erupted on May 12 as anti-Damascus demonstrators tried to approach the offices of the pro-Damascus Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
===

Soldiers shoot anti-Assad clerics in Lebanon, triggering fresh violence
By the CNN Wire Staff
May 21, 2012 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

For 29 years, Syrian troops were deployed in Lebanon
Some Sunni Muslims are staunchly anti-Assad; others support him
Report: The clerics were shot when their convoy didn't stop at a checkpoint

(CNN) -- In the latest instance of the unrest in Syria spilling across the border into Lebanon, deadly clashes broke out in Beirut on Monday following the shooting death of two anti-Assad clerics at the hands of soldiers.

Two people were killed and 18 wounded in the Lebanese capital early Monday as clashes flared between rival political parties -- one supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the other opposing him -- the country's National News Agency said.

The violence followed the killings just hours earlier of two anti-Assad clerics who were shot at a military checkpoint in northern Lebanon.

The histories of Lebanon and Syria have long been intertwined.
Syrian revolt spilling over into Lebanon
Watching Syria from Jordan's border
When peacekeepers can't keep the peace
Video shows UN convoy bombed in Syria

Syrian troops were deployed in Lebanon between 1976 and 2005, primarily in the north. They were initially called in to help stop a brewing civil war, but maintained their significant presence, which once numbered 40,000, long afterward.

In a country struggling to maintain a delicate balance among its religious and ethnic sects, resentment from the occupation lingers.

Some Sunni Muslims are staunchly anti-Assad and sympathize with the Sunni-led uprising in Syria calling for his ouster. Support for Assad is also plentiful, particularly in the south.

In recent weeks, as the Assad regime has shown no mercy in its crackdown on anti-government protesters inside Syria, the simmering animosity has boiled over.

All last week, factions supporting and opposing the uprising in Syria clashed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. Casualty counts vary, with some reports placing the death toll as high as eight.

On Friday, a video surfaced on YouTube that purports to show Lebanon's military arresting a Syrian activist at a hospital in Tripoli where he was being treated for wounds he suffered when Lebanese forces attempted to break up clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian regime groups.

And on Sunday, two Sunni Muslim clerics were shot to death at a checkpoint in the northern state of Akkar.

The National News Agency said soldiers fired on the clerics' convoy after it did not "abide by the Army's instruction" and stop at the checkpoint on its way to a sit-in organized by the anti-Assad Movement of the Future party.

The army immediately issued a statement of regret and said it had opened an investigation.

But Saad Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister and leader of the Movement of the Future party, pointed the finger at Assad "infiltrators" in the military for the deaths.

"There are some infiltrators who want to use the military and its image to import the crisis of the Syrian regime to Lebanon in a desperate attempt to save the Assad's regime from its inevitable end," he said.

Abdel Qadir Abdel Wahid, the brother of one the slain clerics, echoed the sentiments in an interview with MTV Lebanon.

"Unfortunately, we have some infiltrated elements in the Lebanese army, possibly officers who work for the Assad regime," he said. "I hope that the army institution cleanse itself from these elements."

Hours later, armed clashes erupted in Beirut between Future supporters and those of the pro-Assad Arab Movement. In addition to the deaths, the clashes left shops damaged and cars torched, the national news agency said.

"The civil war in Syria is likely to prove a watershed for the Middle East's balance of power," said Hillary Mann Leverett, who teaches foreign policy at American University in Washington. "It has the potential to become a full-blown regional war that could spill over into other countries and bring those countries into conflict, through proxies and perhaps even directly."

Al-Assad, in a rare interview last week, put the blame for the Syria violence on the so-called Arab Spring, during which popular revolutions have toppled the governments of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. He also alleged that weapons bound for rebels were entering his country from Lebanon.

"For the leaders of these countries, it's becoming clear that this is not 'Spring' but chaos," he told Russa 24. "And as I have said, if you sow chaos in Syria you may be infected by it yourself, and they understand this perfectly well."


CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this report.
=========

Saturday, April 21, 2012

3 Pakistanis, 2 Afghans detained with 10,000kg explosives in Kabul

By Reuters
Published: April 21, 2012

Afghan official says the detained men had received training from the Pakistani Taliban.

KABUL: Afghan security forces have detained five insurgents in Kabul, with 10,000 kilograms of explosives they intended to use in a massive attack on crowded areas in the capital, an Afghan intelligence spokesman said on Saturday.

“If this amount of explosives had been used, it could have caused large-scale bloodshed,” National Directorate of Security spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri told a news conference.

The explosives were found stuffed into 400 bags and hidden under piles of potatoes in the back of a truck on the city outskirts.

“Three Pakistani terrorists and two of their Afghan collaborators who placed the explosives under bags of potatoes in truck were caught,” said Tahiri.

The men, he said, had received training from members of the Pakistani Taliban, who have strong links with the Afghan Taliban.

Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of using insurgent groups like the Afghan Taliban as proxies in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s government denies supporting or giving sanctuary to insurgents on its territory.

Insurgents this week launched a coordinated assault on four provinces, targeting diplomatic and government areas of Kabul with rockets and gunfire in what they said was retaliation for abuses of Afghans by US soldiers.

The attacks showed the insurgency’s resilience nearly 11 years since the Afghan Taliban were toppled.

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks and said it planned similar assaults in coming months.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bhoja Air crash in Rawalpindi: ‘No chance of survivors’

Bhoja Air B4-213 crash: Passenger list
Published: April 20, 2012

Rescue workers and local residents search the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: A passenger plane, flight B4-213 of Bhoja Air, crashed at Koral Chowk on Islamabad Express Highway in Rawalpindi on Friday.

It was carrying over 100 passengers and was headed from Karachi to Islamabad.

Seat chart:

Number of adults: 110

Children: 6

Infants: 5

Total passengers: 121

Crew members: 6

Below is a list of passengers who had checked in:

1. Abbas Ali

2. Abida Javed Malik

3. Adeel Chughtai

4. Aiman Ikram

5. Altamash Khan

6. Anisa Akbar

7. Anum Hussain

8. Asif Aftab

9. Asmaa Ahmad

10. Ataur Rehman

11. Azizur Rehman

12. Baqir Mehdi

13. Bibi Hameeda

14. Chand Baboo

15. Chd Faiq

16. Dilshad Kamaal

17. Dr Abdul Qadir

18. Dr Asadullah

19. Fahira Laiq

20. Farah Sajid

21. Fatima

22. Fehmeeda Zubair

23. Ghulam Farooq Qasmi

24. Ghulam Rehman

25. Gul

26. Gul Faraz

27. Gul Sharif Jana

28. Gul Zaman

29. Habibur Rehman

30. Hafeezur Rehman

31. Hafsa Chughtai

32. Hafsa Shahid

33. Haleema Sadia

34. Hamida Khadima Baloch

35. Haris Haris

36. Husun Nisa

37. Imran Waheed

38. Irfan Ali

39. Javed Akhtar Malik

40. Javed Iqbal

41. Kalo Abbasi

42. Khwaja Raziuddin

43. Liauqat Ali

44. Masooda Begum

45. Mishir Jan

46. Mohammad Atiq Khan

47. Mrs Mohammad Latif

48. Mohammad Latif

49. Moiz Sadiq

50. Mrs Khalida

51. Ms Yumna

52. Muhammad Abdul Hafeez

53. Muhamad Anwar Khan

54. Muhammad Ashfaq Khan

55. Muhammad Farooq

56. Muhammad Irfan

57. Muhammad Irfan

58. Muhammad Qasim

59. Muhammad Shahnawaz

60. Muhammad Sohail

61. Muhammad Younus

62. Muhammada Abdullah

63. Mujtaba Siyal

64. Mukhan Jan

65. Munawar Sultana

66. Musarrat Shaheen

67. Nadir Khan Fazaldad

68. Nasreen

69. Nazmeen

70. Nighat Mehdi

71. Nihaluddin Alvi

72. Nisar Ahmed

73. Nuzhat

74. Qamar Aftab

75. Qari Muhammad Abdul Rahman

76. Rakh Shanda

77. Rakhshanda

78. Rashida Rehman

79. Raza Ali Khan Feroz

80. Ree Han

81. SM Saud Ishaq

82. Saba Amber

83. Sadaf Baloch

84.Sadaf Tanveer

85. Saeed Khan

86. Saeeda Akhtar

87. Sania Abbas

88. Sarah Chughtai

89. Sardar Shah

90. Sarwat Mumtaz

91. Shabbir Ahmad Awan

92. Shahid Iqbal

93. Shamima Abdullah

94. Shazia Baloch

95. Sobia Ubaid

96. Suleiman Chughtai

97. Sumaiyah Chughtai

98. Syed Muhammad Amjad

99. Syed Muhammad Rizwan

100. Syed Omar Ali

101. Syed Sajjad Ali Rizvi

102. Syeda Amjad Shaheen

103. Syeda Rizwan Sufia

104. Tabbasum Sarwat

105. Tabia Rehman

106. Talat Mahmood Qureshi

107. Tanveer Jan

108. Tariq Mehmood

109. Tasadouq Mahmood

110. Tasneem Begum

111. Tuba Shewar

112. Usman Rahim

113. Usman Rasheed

114. Uzma Inam

115. Wajat Abbasi

116. Waji Ha

117. Yasmin Muhammad Sultan

118. Zaheer Shah

119. Zahida Aziz

120. Zaibun Nisa

121. Zuhra Begum

Crew members:

1. Captain Noor Afridi

2. First Officer Javed Malik

3. Head of Cabin Crew Ammad

4. Flight Purser Ghazala Malik

5. Air Hostess Princess Flavia

6. Air Hostess Sanam Fareed

==============

Army soldiers search through debris following the crash of a Bhoja Air Boeing 737 plane in the outskirts of Islamabad on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP
Pakistani airport civil aviation officials put up a sign with a help line number as relatives of victims of a plane crash near Islamabad gather nearby, at the airport in Karachi on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Rescue workers peer over a document as they search for survivors among the wreckage of Bhoja Air B4-213. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS TRIBUNE Pakistani villagers look at the debris from a plane following the crash of a Bhoja Air Boeing 737 on the outskirts of Islamabad on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Qamar (R), an uncle of a newly married couple who were victims of the Bhoja Air airliner crash, is consoled by a Civil Aviation Authority official at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi April 20, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS A plane wheel (C) lies amongst debris at the scene of a plane crash as Pakistani rescue workers search for victims in the outskirts of Islamabad on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Army soldiers search through debris following the crash of a Bhoja Air Boeing 737 plane in the outskirts of Islamabad on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP rescue workers search through debris following the crash of a Bhoja Air Boeing 737 plane in the outskirts of Islamabad on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Boeing 737 of Bhoja Air, travelling from Karachi to Islamabad, was carrying 121 passengers. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/ THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE Rescue workers and local residents search the site of a plane crash in Rawalpindi on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP Relative of a passenger on board Bhoja aircraft reacts at Karachi airport. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/ THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

RAWALPINDI: A passenger airliner crashed near Islamabad on Friday while trying to land during a thunderstorm, officials said, with all 127 people on board believed to be dead.

The Bhoja Air flight from Karachi burst into flames after coming down in fields near a village on the outskirts of capital Islamabad as it tried to land in rain and hail at the city’s international airport.

The airline said the Boeing 737-200 was carrying 121 passengers, including 11 children, as well as six crew.

The black box of the ill-fated aircraft has been found, CDA chairman displayed to the media.

Speaking to media early on Saturday, Rehman Malik said that the crash will thoroughly investigated and an investigative committee will be constituted soon which will examine all possible reasons for the crash.

He further said that Farooq Bhoja had been placed on the Exit Control List. He ensured that action will be taken against the culprits.

“There is no chance of any survivors. It will be only a miracle. The plane is totally destroyed,” police official Fazle Akbar told AFP from the crash site.

So far 110 bodies have been recovered from the crash site, Brigadier Sarfraz Ali, who is heading the recovery efforts, told reporters.

“We cannot identify them because some of the bodies are not recognisable,” he said.

Debris from the crash was scattered over a two kilometre (mile and a half) radius, he said, adding that lights had been brought to the site to allow work to continue through the night.

Torn fragments of the fuselage, including a large section bearing the airline’s logo, littered the fields around the village of Hussain Abad, where the plane came down.

Rescue workers in orange jumpsuits and local residents used torches to search through the wreckage after nightfall, assisted by soldiers carrying assault rifles.

Part of the airline’s name could be read on a large section of ripped white fuselage from the passenger cabin.

The smell of burning filled the air at the scene and human limbs were scattered in a large area spattered with blood, witnesses said.

An AFP reporter saw an orange flight data recorder in a house where some of the wreckage fell.

Pakistan Navy official Captain Arshad Mahmood said the crash happened as the plane approached the runway to land.

“The weather was very bad, there was hail and thunderstorm. The pilot lost control and hit the ground. It tossed up due to the impact and exploded and came down in a fireball,” he said.

Saifur Rehman, an official from the police rescue team, said the plane burst into flames after impact.

“Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage is on fire, the plane is completely destroyed,” Rehman told Geo television.

An airport source said the plane had been due to land at Islamabad airport at 6:50pm but lost contact with the control tower at 6:40pm and crashed shortly afterwards before reaching the runway.

A probe has been ordered into the crash, Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi said, warning that traffic caused by people trying to get to the site was hindering rescue efforts.

“A team of investigators comprising senior civil aviation officials have immediately started investigations,” Sethi said.

“We are working under the direct supervision of president and prime minister.”

Nadeem Khan Yusufzai, director general of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, said initial reports suggested the bad weather was to blame for the crash.

Bhoja Air relaunched domestic operations with a fleet of five 737s in March, according to newspaper reports, when the airline was planning to start flights connecting Karachi, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore and Islamabad.

Bhoja had been grounded in 2000 by the Civil Aviation Authorities amid financial difficulties, the reports said.

The worst aviation tragedy on Pakistani soil came in July 2010 when an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by the private airline Airblue crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi.

All 152 people on board were killed in the accident, which occurred amid heavy rain and poor visibility.

The deadliest civilian plane crash involving a Pakistani jet came in 1992 when a PIA Airbus A300 crashed into a cloud-covered hillside on its approach to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, killing 167 people.

The passenger list can be viewed here.

End of live updates

11: 30pm

Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, while speaking to Express News said that while availability of lights was a problem, all available resources had been deputed at the crash site to look for survivors among the wreckage.

He added that cold stores had been arranged so that body parts of the victims can be preserved till a time all the dead had been accounted for and identified. He said NADRA too had been directed to provide fingerprinting and DNA identification facilities to identify the dead.

Giving details of travel arrangements made for the families of the crash victims, he said that two flights had been arranged to fly to Islamabad on Saturday morning.

CAA authorities say last communication between the ill-fated Bhoja Air plane and Control Tower last took place at 6:40pm. They further revealed that all records of the Air Control Tower has been sealed.


11:15pm

Army officials in charge of the search and rescue operation at the crash site say that they have recovered 110 bodies, which have been dispatched to hospital.

Revealing that efforts to locate the blackbox were so far unsuccessful, he said that due to the jungle terrain over which the plane had crashed and the lack of lights which were available to the forces, search operations had become difficult.

Express News reporter Qamarul Munawar said that army troops were using sniffer dogs to locate the remains of the crash victims.

Heavy rain has started at the crash site.

Speaking to Express News, deputy chief of Pilot North PIA, Inamullah Jan said that flight B4-213 was a 24 year old 737-200. However, he maintained that the aircraft was flight worthy and no aircraft can fly till it has been given a clean bill of health by the CAA.

10:30pm

Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, while talking to Express News from the site of the crash said that orders had been issued from the President to conduct a thorough investigation in to the crash. At the moment, Malik said that he and the Prime Minister were deciding on the level of team that will be set up to lead an investigation into the crash.

He added that while search and rescue operations were still underway, they had yet to find any survivors. He also urged that relatives of the victims should refer to PIMS hospital in Islamabad as all bodies are being sent there, and will be identified.

Confirming that arrangements had been made for the relatives of the victims to be taken to Islamabad, Malik said that not only transport to Islamabad had been arranged, but Islamabad accommodation, and additional shuttle to the hospital is being arraged. “We will extend our complete cooperation to them [relatives of victims],” the Interior Minister said.

Highlighting the obstacles, Malik said that the region where the plane had crashed was engulfed in darkness, and worse still the crash took place over a jungle.

Meanwhile, Bhoja Air officials say plane had been given a clean bill of health before take off

Express News reporter Naeem Khanzada reported that Bhoja Air official Mushtaq while addressing a press conference at Karachi airport had said that flight B4-213 had been cleared by flight engineers before starting its ill-fated journey to Islamabad.

Meanwhile a Bhoja Air official, H. R. Ishaq, who arrived at the airport, was immediately surrounded by relatives of the crash victims. He suggested that the plane had crashed due to bad weather in Islamabad.

He said that relatives of crash victims will be flown by Bhoja Air to Islamabad on Saturday morning free of cost.

Contrary to air traffic control officials, Bhoja Air representatives said that that suddenly all contact was lost just before the plane crashed.


9:58pm

CAA spokesperson Pervaiz George, speaking to the media, said the authority has arranged a hotel in Islamabad for free stay for the relatives of the victims.

He further said that another Bhoja Air plane will arrive in Karachi at around 10:30pm and will fly with the relatives of the victims to Islamabad.

He added that the plane was in a good condition.

9:52pm

Haleem Adil Shaikh, Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister on Relief Affairs, has been at the Karachi airport all evening and has been talking to the press.

Defence Secretary Narjis Sethi told Express News that operation rooms have been established and civil administration in Islamabad has also been activated. “We are doing everything possible.”

9:46pm

Deputy Commissioner Malir has announced that a PIA flight has been arranged and will take passengers’ relatives free of cost, reported Mirza.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed grief over the incident.

9:43pm

An official at Islamabad airport said that six flights coming to Islamabad were diverted earlier and landed in Lahore, but the airport has reopened and the flights will start coming back

Eight bodies have been recovered so far and there is no chance of survivors. The wreckage has spread over 1.5km, reported The Express Tribune’s Umer Draz.

A Bhoja Air flight will be leaving around 11 pm with one member from each family of those killed in the crash, reported Shaheryar Mirza.

9:35pm

Defence secretary says Islamabad airport will not be closed.

An investigation team has been formed, headed by Group Captain Mujahidul Islam, on the orders of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

9:31pm

A man who had been at waiting at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport for the flight yelled “my two daughters are dead” as tears streamed down his face.

In a state of shock, he then slumped in a state of shock on the floor and sat silently as other relatives of passengers crowded around lists of those on board.

Among them was Zarina Bibi, desperate to determine whether her husband was on the Bhoja Air flight. “He called me before leaving Karachi but I don’t know if he was on this flight or not,” said Bibi, whose eyes were red from crying.

9:25pm

“This is not one bit different from what we went through, there is total chaos and there is no one here to help passengers’ families. Only two people are sitting at the desk as before. They are not able to provide a proper passenger list to the public,” Junaid Hamid, AirBlue Crash Affectees Convener, told The Express Tribune correspondent Shaheryar Mirza.

“Last time they weren’t able to give us a flight till early next morning and the passengers this time do not have any answers on when the next flight will be available,” he added.

The worst aviation tragedy on Pakistani soil came in July 2010 when an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by Airblue crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi.

All 152 people on board were killed in the accident, which occurred amid heavy rain and poor visibility.

9:21pm

Deputy DG of National Disaster Management Authority Mansoor Ahmed told Express News that the rush of the people is hampering the rescue work. “I want to request the people to let our cars reach the area so we can end the operation by tonight.”

Assistant commissioner of the area said that emergency has been declared in all hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. “Two ambulances just left the site with six bodies. Some bodies were shifted earlier,” he added and requested the people to move away from the area so that the rescue work can be done smoothly.

President Asif Ali Zardari has arranged a chartered plane for the victims’ families to reach Islamabad.

9:14pm

Bhoja Air relaunched domestic operations with a fleet of five 737s in March, according to newspaper reports, when the airline was planning to start flights connecting Karachi, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore and Islamabad.

Bhoja had been grounded in 2000 by the Civil Aviation Authorities amid financial difficulties, the reports said.

9:08pm

Express News correspondent Qamarul Munawwar reported that as all the rescue officials could not reach the site with all their equipment, the locals are helping by providing sheets to wrap the bodies.

He added that not a single body has been taken to a hospital from the site.

9:05pm

A rescue official told Express News that they were facing difficulty in carrying out the rescue operation as the bodies were strewn over a large area and there was very low visibility as there was no light.

“The only light we have is that from cellphones and from cars,” he said.

9:00pm

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that wings of the plane caught fire before it crashed. Eyewitnesses said that the plane was struck by lightening.

Ten nearby houses were destroyed, but the residents remained safe.

8:58pm

Bodies are being shifted to hospitals.

CAA rescue team has been tasked to search the black box of the plane.

Islamabad airfield has been closed till midnight.

8:50pm

Dead bodies are strewn over a large area.

CDA teams, locals and rescue officials are present on the crash site and are helping rescue efforts.

Concerned people can call at 92-51-9231453 for information.

8:46pm

An official says this cannot be termed a routine accident.

There were conflicting reports about how many people were on board the plane.

A senior defence ministry official said initial reports suggested there were 126 people on board, Civil Aviation Authority said it was carrying 121 passengers and nine crew, and the chief of Islamabad police Bani Amin told AFP from the crash site that 127 were on board.

8:41pm

“There is no chance of any survivors. It will be only a miracle. The plane is totally destroyed,” police officer Fazle Akbar told AFP from the crash site.

8:34pm

Two-kilometre-long traffic jam near Islamabad airport. Ambulances finding it very hard to get through, reports The Express Tribune‘s Vaqas Asghar.

8:30pm

An eyewitness told Express News,” I was parking my car and I felt as if there was an explosion in the air. As plane parts started falling, I felt that I would die too.”

Another eyewitness said that at least 5-10 nearby houses have been destroyed and the bodies were strewn over one kilometre.

The plane blew up while it was in the air, said another eyewitness. It was raining and there was lightening when the plane blew up, he added.

“We could not make out the bodies, they were strewn all over along with plane parts,” he said.


Javed Malik was the co-pilot of the plane.

8:21pm

Saifur Rehman, an official from the police rescue team said the plane came down in Hussainabad village, about three kilometres from the main Islamabad highway.

“Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage is on fire, the plane is completely destroyed. We have come with teams of firefighters and searchlights and more rescuers are coming,” Rehman told Geo News.

8:18pm

CAA has established a crisis cell at the Karachi airport and relatives of the passengers are asked to call at 92-21-99071384 and 92-21-99071385 for information.

8:15pm

Bhoja Air Public Relations Officer Jasir Abro said, “We want everyone to stop speculating. We’re trying to find out what happened, where, and how it happened. As soon as we find out more information about the crash the list will be made public.”

An information desk has been established on the second floor at Domestic Departures at the Karachi airport and the families of the passengers can receive information from there.

8:13pm

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has expressed deep grief over the plane crash. He has directed the CAA to use all resources for the rescue operation, reported The Express Tribune correspondent Sumera Khan.

Group Captain Mujahidul Islam, head of Safety Investigation Board CAA, will lead an inquiry into the incident.

Two operation rooms have been set up at Benazir Bhutto Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Rawalpindi and Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

8:07pm

Rescue 1122 officials say that no one has survived the crash.

The Express Tribune correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reported that 116 people had travelled on the plane, five were reported to be infants. The flight had six crew members on board.

As many as 100 Army troops have reached the spot and have taken charge of rescue efforts.

Crash site has agricultural land and some residential plots.

7:55pm

Emergency has been declared in all hospitals of Islamabad.

As many as 100 Army personnel are on their way to the crash site for rescue work.

7:53pm

Family members of those on board have started arriving at the airports.

Air traffic control says that they did not receive any distress call from the pilot in the moments before the crash.

7:51pm

Rescue 1122 officials say that the plane has been completed destroyed and it is being feared that there are no survivors.

A witness told Dunya News that dead bodies could be seen lying all around after the jet went down before landing.

7:48pm

Express News Islamabad correspondent Qamarul Munawwar reported that rescue vehicles are still on the roads due to the traffic. The rescue officials claim that CAA is not telling them the exact site of the incident.

7:45pm

CAA former DG Junaid Ameen, talking to Express News, said the bad weather is usually not the cause of plane crashes because planes have equipments which help in dealing with the situation. “Planes are designed to fly in bad weather.”

Air traffic controllers say that the crash happened due to bad weather and confirmed that the plane belonged to Bhoja Air.

Express News correspondent in Karachi, Aftab Ali, reported that five babies were among the passengers.

7:33pm

The plane took off from Karachi at 5:00pm and was supposed to land in Islamabad at 6:40pm but crashed just before touchdown, reported Geo News.

Witnessed told Dunya News that flame could be seen rising from the crash site and the fire has reportedly engulfed several buildings.

Army troops have also been moved to the area where the plane crashed.

7:28pm

Plane was supposed to fly over Jinnah Garden to approach its destination and land at the airport.

The crash site has been cordoned off by Koral police.

7:25pm

Sources say that the plane crashed in a residential area in Jinnah Garden, but it has not been confirmed.

All rescue vehicles of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been rushed to the spot including fire tenders, but traffic jam near the crash site is hampering rescue vehicles from reaching the site.

7:20pm

CAA authorities have refrained from giving out any official statement.

This was the first flight of Bhoja Air after the service started.

7:17pm

It is currently raining in Rawalpindi and it being suggested that the bad weather could have been the cause of the plane crash.

According to authorities, the plane crashed 10km away from the runway of Islamabad airport, near Chaklala airbase.

Rescue officials from Islamabad and Rawalpindi, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority, have left for the crash site.
===================

Pakistani plane crashes with 127 on board
Fri, Apr 20 19:36 PM EDT
image
1 of 11

By Mahawish Rezvi and Chris Allbritton

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani airliner with 127 people on board crashed in bad weather as it came in to land in Islamabad on Friday, scattering wreckage and leaving no sign of survivors.

The Boeing 737, operated by local airline Bhoja Air, was flying to the capital from Pakistan's biggest city and business hub Karachi. It crashed into wheat fields more than 5 miles from the airport.

Rawal Khan Maitla, director general of Emergency Disaster Management for the Capital Development Authority, said there were no survivors.

Rescue workers walked through mud at the crash site with flashlights or with the lights of their cellphones looking for passengers' remains. One held up a tattered e-ticket receipt.

Body parts, wallets and eyeglasses lay among wreckage strewn in a small settlement just outside Islamabad.

"It was as if the entire sky had burst into flames," said a resident of the area.

Parts of the aircraft smashed into electricity poles, blanketing the area in darkness, or into houses. There were no reports of casualties on the ground.

Bhoja Air said the airplane crashed during its approach in Islamabad due to bad weather. There was no indication from the government that it could have been the result of foul play.

A man who had been waiting at Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport for the flight yelled "my two daughters are dead" as tears streamed down his face.

In a state of shock, he then slumped on the floor and sat silently as other relatives of passengers crowded around lists of those on board.

The uncle of the sisters, 18 and 20, said they were supposed to return to Islamabad on Sunday but flew early to see an aunt who is visiting from London.

"We don't even know when or where we will get to see their bodies," said the uncle, Qamar Abbas, who kept mumbling "no, no, no" to himself.

HEADED FOR HONEYMOON

When Sajjad Rizvi and Sania Abbas boarded the flight, they were looking forward to their honeymoon in a hill resort near Islamabad. "We had a joint wedding on March 28," said Sania's brother Zeeshan at the airport.

Nearby, relatives of passengers hugged each other and sobbed. One man cried "my kids, my kids".

The last major aviation accident in Pakistan was in July 2010, when a commercial airliner operated by AirBlue with 152 people on board crashed into the hills overlooking Islamabad.

In 2006, a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft crashed near the central city of Multan, killing 45 people.

State television reported that all hospitals in Islamabad and the nearby city of Rawalpindi had been put on high alert after Friday's crash.

At the capital's main hospital, rescue workers brought in remains of the passengers placed under white sheets soaked in blood.

"Two years later the same story is being repeated in my house again," said Nasreen Mubasher, who was at the hospital waiting for the remains of her brother-in-law, who was a passenger. Another brother-in-law died in the AirBlue crash.

As the police struggled to keep order, trying to keep the distraught calm and television cameras away, Mohammad Nasir hoped somehow that his brother's body would be intact despite the horrific force of the crash.

He approached other relatives of passengers and hospital workers. He kept asking "have you seen any whole bodies?"

The Boeing Company said in a statement on its website that it "wishes to extend its profound condolences to the families and friends" of the Bhoja Air passengers.

At Karachi airport, Asim Hashmi complained the airline's counter was shut and he had no way of obtaining information on his aunt and cousin, who were on flight B4-213.

"We don't know anything," he said. "Just pray for the souls of the departed. That is all we can do now."

(Additional reporting by Qasim Nauman, Rebecca Conway and Rehan Sheikh in ISLAMABAD and Sahar Ahmed in KARACHI; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Alison Williams)
============

SA Time: April 21, 2012 11:37:59 AM
Plane had been bought from CAA

April 21 2012 at 09:58am

Comment on this story
iol pic wld pakistan plane crash

REUTERS

Paramilitary soldiers and members of the media gather near the wreckage of a Boeing 737 airliner that crashed in Islamabad.

The Bhoja Air plane which crashed near Islamabad, killing all 127 people on board, was nearly three decades old, officials said Saturday, but had been approved to fly by aviation authorities.

The Boeing 737-200 was 28 years old and had been bought on dry lease from a South African company, a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) official who asked not to be named told AFP.

A Bhoja Air official insisted that despite its age, the plane was safe to fly.

“The aircraft was old and second hand but it is not something unusual. The fleet of state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) also runs old aircraft,” Bhoja Air official Masham Zafar told AFP.

“Airlines rarely have brand new planes, and this aircraft was also refurbished.

“There was no technical issue and bad weather is to blamed. The plane left with CAA certification after normal check at Karachi airport and it was given clearance by the CAA to land at the Islamabad airport.”


Bhoja Air was one of the first private airlines to set up in Pakistan after the country's skies were opened up beyond the national flag-carrier Pakistan International Airlines in 1993.

It began domestic operations in the 1990s and ran international flights as far afield as the United Arab Emirates, but had its licence suspended in 2000 after failing to pay dues to CAA.

“The company's licence has been restored in March this year permitting them to operate domestic flights after it assured us that it would repay the longstanding dues and keep up with the standard procedures,” the CAA official said.

“It was the first evening flight for Islamabad, which met (with) the huge tragedy.”

The official said that aside from the plane which crashed, Bhoja has another 737-200 in use and a more modern 737-400 which is awaiting CAA approval to fly.


With its slogan “For those who love to fly”, Bhoja Air launched its operations initially for five domestic destinations and had ambitious plans to extend its network to more cities.

It had launched an aggressive publicity campaign through local newspapers offering the lowest fares among the competition.

“The Bhoja Air was offering lower fares for its flights than the rest of the airlines. Such prices were introductory to carve better clientele in a competitive market,” said a local travel agent Mohammad Junaid.

A second CAA official said the pilot of the doomed flight Noor Ullah Afridi and first officer Javed Mushtaq joined the airline after retiring as pilots from Pakistan Air Force.
- AFP
=======

Bhoja Air crash: 'Acceleration at low height caused mid-air explosion'
By Web Desk
Published: April 21, 2012

Initial investigation report from air traffic control reveals plane's rapid descend caused fuel tank to burst. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

An initial investigation report compiled with information received from air traffic control has revealed that the Bhoja Air plane was flying at 500km per hour which caused the fuel tank to burst, resulting in a mid-air explosion, scattering debris for miles around, Express News reported on Saturday.

The plane, which was in landing position, should have been at 1,500 to 1,700ft above ground and was only at 200ft and was travelling at 500km, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sources said.


The plane was 10km away from the runway, considering this, the plane was flying too low and too fast to make the landing, sources told Express News.

According to the initial investigation report, the last words the co-pilot said to air traffic control were “I have lost control of the plane”, after which they lost contact with the plane at around three minutes before crash.

Sources said that this report was not made with information from the black box and was just a result of initial investigations conducted.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, talking to the media, vowed that the investigation into the crash will be done as soon as possible. “We will make sure that there is no human delay… We will try to arrange for the compensation as well.”

When asked about the investigation of the Airblue crash, Kaira said that the investigation was done and the report was presented to the public too, now it is up to them whether they want to believe the report or not.

“AirBlue belongs to our opponent party, why would we have hidden the truth?” he questioned and added that before the details of the Bhoja crash come, everything will be ‘just speculations’.

He announced that the CAA will hold a press conference at 4pm and further added that 115 bodies of the crash victims have been identified.

The passenger flight travelling from Karachi to Islamabad carrying 121 passengers and six crew members came hurtling down towards the outskirts of Rawalpindi at 6:46pm on Friday evening.

Among the passengers were five infants and six children. There were no survivors.

Bhoja Air’s aged B737-200 took off from Karachi airport at 5:05pm and crashed five nautical miles from Islamabad airport on the village of Hussainabad. However, rescuers said people on the ground remained largely safe as the bulk of the wreckage fell in an open area.
========
Aircrafts are made to handle lightening unless of course it’s an old ageing aircraft with an expired fuselage. Newsweek caaried an article recently on the Boeing 737 fuselage failures due to metal fatigue.
Part of the airline’s name could be read on a large portion of the fuselage ripped off the passenger cabin.


Sonia: The Tehrik Taliban Pakistan member group Ghazi Abdul Rasheed Shaheed (the Lal Masjid Moulvi) Trust are busy building a huge madressah and mosque on a piece of land donated by the management of Jinnah Gardens only few yards from the crash site. Future landings also not guranteed?


ALAFCO earned net profit of KD18.3m for the first half ended March 31, 2012

Kuwait: 35 minutes ago
PRESS RELEASE

inShare

Related content
Emirates airline hiring 4,500 new staff in various... »
Executive jets land in the heart of Abu Dhabi »
Testing of the Lufthansa Airbus A380's Lufthansa Technik - no concerns over A380 cracks in... »
Qatar Airways to unveil new custom-design exhibition... »
ALAFCO's Chairman & CEO, Ahmad A. Alzabin, announced the company's first half financial result for the period ended March 31, 2012. He said the company achieved a net profit of KD18.3m, and earnings per share of Fils 23.4 during the first half.
Alzabin explained that the net profit included exceptional profit realized through the adjustment of some purchase agreements with aircraft manufacturers.

During the first half, ALAFCO firmed up the transaction to purchase 85 A320neo aircraft from Airbus valued at $7.65bn at list prices, thus positioning itself to reach its target of a 100 aircraft portfolio by the end of the decade. Also during the period, the company leased 3 Airbus A320-200 aircraft to Vietjet Air in Vietnam for a period of 8 years.

ALAFCO is a Kuwait-based aircraft leasing company. Its stock trades on the Kuwait Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ALAFCO. The company's owned aircraft portfolio consists of 48 Boeing and Airbus aircraft leased to airlines globally. In addition, ALAFCO manages another 12 aircraft for investors.


Living horror: Charred remains, debris litter crash site
By Mudassir Raja / Vaqas Asghar
Published: April 21, 2012

Rescue workers search through debris following the crash of a Bhoja Air Boeing 737 plane in the outskirts of Islamabad on April 20, 2012. PHOTO: AFP
HUSSAINABAD:

Smog and the smell of smouldering wreckage filled the eerie air where charred fuselage of the Bhoja Air Boeing 737 lay scattered in a village, about eight kilometres from Benazir International Airport’s runway.

After initial chaos, army troops managed to cordon off the crash site as rescuers in orange jumpsuits and residents of Hussainabad village flashed torches to sift through the wreckage for survivors – but unfortunately there were none. A pall of gloom hung in the air and wailing ambulances could be heard in the distance. All roads leading to Hussainabad, including Islamabad Expressway, were clogged.

A fleet of ambulances from Rescue 1122, Capital Development Authority, Edhi and different hospitals of the twin-cities, were caught in a traffic snarl. Rain and stormy winds added to their problems.

The debris was scattered in Hussainabad village and adjoining farmland. Part of the airline’s name could be read on a large portion of the fuselage ripped off the passenger cabin.

The site was littered with burnt out luggage, blood-stained wreckage, and remains of some of the victims were covered with coloured sheets at the edge of a field.

A rescue official said apart from ‘three to four children’ all bodies were charred beyond recognition.

Part of the plane’s wing fell on a house in Hussainabad. The owner, Intezar Hussain, said it damaged a balcony but caused no casualties.

“The plane came down with a bang,” his son Jaffer Hussain said. “Its pilot perhaps tried to land into the farmland. It hit trees and exploded,” he said.

Other residents said they saw a flash in the air before the plane fell down with a thud, snapping the main cables supplying electricity to the area.

“I was returning home from work. As I approached my village, I saw something like a lightning bolt followed by a bang,” Malik Javiad Akhtar, a resident of Hussainabad, told The Express Tribune.

“I reached the site within 15 minutes of the crash. The area, around one kilometre in radius, was strewn with human debris and wreckage of the plane,” Akhtar said.

“It all happened in front of my eyes. I rushed away to save my life. When I looked back I saw flames coming out of the plane,” another witness added.


According to rescue officials, about 50 houses in the village were damaged – but there were no casualties on the ground.

While many people stepped forward to help with rescue efforts, some saw in the crash an opportunity to steal. Two men, on their way to the site, discussed how they would mingle with volunteers and steal undamaged luggage. (With additional input from agencies)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.

============

Bhoja crash: Investigations may not take too long, says DG CAA
By Ema Anis
Published: April 21, 2012

Soldiers stand amid the wreckage of a Boeing 737 airliner that crashed in Islamabad April 21, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Investigations into the Bhoja air crash might not take too long to complete, Director-General (DG) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Nadeem Yousafzai expressed hope while speaking to the media on Saturday.

“The investigation of this crash may not take too long, as the landing gear was down and the plane crashed on a flat terrain… Its parts disintegrated over almost 4km, which will be easier to assemble and examine,” Yousafzai explained.

He added that the Black Box had been sent over to concerned authorities and its examination might take one month. “Depending on the type of the crash, the final result of the inquiry may take up to three months to one year.”

Ruling out the possibility of harsh weather being the cause of the crash, the DG explained that there are proper systems set up to predict the weather and warnings are issued if the weather is harsh.

“I heard the conversation [between the air control tower and the pilot] myself. The tower told the pilot that it was clear to land. The pilot acknowledged and pulled the landing gear down. But immediately after, the communication got lost and the plane started going into a dive,” he told the media. “What happened in this period needs to be investigated.”

He added that an Airblue flight landed at Islamabad airport around five minutes after the crash and it was “right behind the Bhoja plane”. The visibility was also till 4km, he said.


But the DG refrained from making any final comments on the crash. “There could be other reasons too… I won’t comment and I’ll request you all to refrain from commenting as well… Issuing a statement before the investigation completes can damage the outcome of the inquiry and affect the families of the victims.”

He announced that the investigation will be done on international standards, and Bhoja Air has been directed to issue compensation to the victims’ families at the earliest. “We will monitor their progress.”

When asked whether the CAA was put under political pressure to resume the functions of Bhoja Air, the DG said that the body ranks number 10 worldwide. “We, as a nation, have a culture of mud-slinging… Let me tell you that CAA does not compromise on security.”

He announced that out of 122 victims, bodies of 115 have been identified while the DNA test of 12 is in progress, and 113 bodies have been handed over to the families.

He thanked the government, agencies, the fire department and all other people involved in the rescue work. “I especially want to thank PIA and MD PIA for arranging a flight for the victims’ families and for announcing to carry the bodies free of cost.

The passenger flight travelling from Karachi to Islamabad carrying 121 passengers and six crew members came hurtling down towards the outskirts of Rawalpindi at 6:46pm on Friday evening.

Among the passengers were five infants and six children. There were no survivors.

Bhoja Air’s aged B737-200 took off from Karachi airport at 5:05pm and crashed five nautical miles from Islamabad airport on the village of Hussainabad. However, rescuers said people on the ground remained largely safe as the bulk of the wreckage fell in an open area.

===

Bhoja Air crash: Officials differ over the events that led to crash
By Umer Nangiana / Mudassir Raja
Published: April 22, 2012

Rescue workers combing the site for bodies from the site of the plane crash. EXPRESS TRIBUNE PHOTO/MYRA IQBAL
ISLAMABAD:

From what the initial probe report indicates, a possible reason for Friday’s tragic Bhoja Air crash that killed 127 people was a technical fault.

The report states that the aircraft caught fire mid-air, and most likely exploded before the debris hit the ground.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), however, indicated the contrary. CAA Director General (DG) Nadeem Yousufzai, while talking to the media on Saturday, categorically said that the airfield was visible despite harsh weather and the plane’s captain had been given a green signal for landing.

“After this it was the pilot’s discretion to land or not,” said Yousafzai, indicating that it was not a technical fault but rather the pilot’s indiscretion.

He said that an Airblue flight landed on the same runway two minutes after flight B 213’s crash.

The initial probe report submitted to the ministry of interior said that the plane lost height and came down to 2,000 feet at 300 miles per hour. The pilot informed the central aviation officials he lost control over the aircraft but soon lost contact with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower at 6:40 pm, after which it crashed.

Some of the witnesses at Hussainabad village, the crash site, also told The Express Tribune that they saw the plane catching fire mid-air.

However, Yousafzai ruled out the possibility of the plane catching fire and exploding in air. After listening to the conversation between the pilot and the control tower and visiting the crash site, Yousafzai suggested “the aircraft hit the ground and bounced off before crashing”. In the face of such contradictions, a CAA official did say the preliminary report was only a starting point and could not be relied upon to fix responsibility entirely. Vital evidence – in the form of that gained from the plane’s Black Box and voice recorder recovered from the crash site – is still to be included and investigated.

“The plane looked like a fire ball descending onto the earth like a meteor,” the official said, quoting the report.

The Koral police station SHO said, “They (investigators) visited today and asked us not to remove the wreckage for two more days,” in order to continue investigations. The bodies, however, have been removed from the crash site.

Refusing to comment on the progress of the inquiry committee headed by Group Capt (retd) Mujahidul Islam, the head of the CAA Safety Investigation Board and a veteran aviation investigator, Yousafzai said the aircraft was flight-worthy regardless of its age.

“CAA experts gave the plane a proper fitness certificate before it took off from Karachi,” he said. “Flight safety is not often linked with a plane’s age. It depends on the suitability for flight.”

Yousafzai added that the CAA was in contact with Bhoja for paying compensation to victims’ families. He said the CAA gave clearance to Bhoja Air to resume services following full payment of its pending dues. However, some CAA officials claimed that certain members of the authority’s high command were not willing to grant the clearance but were pressurised.

Bhoja Air’s CEO Arshad Jalil allegedly used his contacts in government circles to get the clearance. However, there was no on-record confirmation of this information.

Besides positing possible reasons for the crash, the initial report also prompted the Islamabad police to act quickly and book the owner of Bhoja Air, Farooq Bhoja.

Bhoja detained

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) appeared to act on this advice promptly, at least partially. The agency detained the airline’s chairman Bhoja for questioning on Saturday. Bhoja dropped a bombshell, however, by telling the authorities that he owns only 5 per cent of the airline’s shares, while 80 per cent of the shares are owned by Jalil, his wife and his son.

Bhoja told investigators that Jalil has previously been MD for defunct airline Aero Asia and was also the CEO of Shaheen Air. He added that Jalil is currently in China with his wife. He said that the remaining 15 per cent of shares are owned equally by directors Zeeshan Karimi and Muzahir Hussain.

On the instructions of the interior ministry, the FIA has registered an inquiry in the Corporate Crime Circle. Sindh FIA Director Moazzam Jah Ansari told Express that the airline’s records and the certification of the aircraft have been taken into custody from his office and are being examined.


PM orders judicial probe

Bhoja seems to be in as much trouble as his airline. A judicial commission was formed by the interior ministry on the directives of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday to probe the crash.

The three-member judicial commission, headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Hussain includes Justice (retd) Wasim Kausar and Justice Naseem Sikandar. The commission will decide whether Bhoja Air will be allowed to continue operations, investigate the aircraft’s track record and chalk out a strategy to prevent such accidents in the future.

President Asif Ali Zardari also summoned the defence minister on Saturday and order that inquiries be made into progress as far as facilitating victims’ families is concerned. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SUMERA KHAN IN ISLAMABAD AND ADIL JAWAD IN KARACHI)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.

=========

On 7 November 1993, Bhoja Air started operations on domestic routes between Karachi, Lahore and Quetta with a dry leased Boeing 737-200. It was registered in Pakistan making Bhoja the first private airline in the country to operate a Western manufactured aircraft. Bhoja Air is a privately owned airline of the Bhoja Group of Companies with its head office at Shahrah–e-Liaquat, Karachi and corporate offices at KDA society.

In 1996, it signed a deal with the handling agent group OGDENS with complete ground handling equipment at Karachi, capable of handling Boeing 747s. In the same year another sister company, Pakistan Aviators and Aviation located at Lahore International airport was purchased[by whom?], along with a hotel for passenger stop-overs.

On 24 January 1998 Bhoja Air commenced international flights from Karachi to Dubai. Later, Bhoja Air operated flights to the U.A.E from all major cities of Pakistan. However due to financial difficulties, Bhoja Air suspended its operations in 2001, although its airline licence issued by CAA – Pakistan remained valid and it maintained a fully functional headquarters office in Karachi and an operations and ramp office at Karachi airport.

Bhoja Air restarted operations in 2012 after Arshad Jalil bought 80% shares and used his influence to issue clearance certificates from authorities. M. Farouk Omar Bhoja is the owner of airline but hold only 5% shares where 80% shares are held with Arshad Jalil family and remaining 15% shares are held by various others.[2][3]

================
Wind shear may have caused the tragedy
From the Newspaper | Baqir Sajjad Syed | 1 day ago
16
map-bhoja-air-670

Soon after the accident, the government ordered an inquiry. It will be conducted by aviation regulator – CAA’s Safety Investigation Board. - Photo by Dawn

ISLAMABAD: As the pilots of Bhoja Air Flight B4-213 attempted to land amidst rain and strong winds, the unlucky aircraft might have flown into an unexpected wind shear that possibly smashed it on the ground below.

Soon after the accident, the government ordered an inquiry. It will be conducted by aviation regulator – CAA’s Safety Investigation Board. It would be months before the CAA team comes up with an explanation for the accident.

The probe will look into various aspects — weather, pilots’ role, the condition of equipment, and handling by air traffic controllers and sabotage. Safety record of the airline, whose operations remained suspended for not fulfilling the required criteria, would certainly come under question.

However, pilots and air accident experts, who helped Dawn analyse the tragedy by putting together the chronology of events, say the crash was fairly consistent with what could have been caused by a wind shear. Unfortunately neither the ageing aircraft nor the ill-equipped airport had wind shear detection systems that could have forewarned the pilots and ground controllers. The result was a catastrophe. Wind shear is a meteorological phenomenon involving fast changing wind patterns, mostly downdrafts, that could cause a landing aircraft to lose speed and altitude. If proven this could be possibly the first case of air crash in Pakistan caused by wind shear.

An official of the Met Department confirmed wind shear in the area surrounding the airport at the time of the crash. The pilots were landing under a strong headwind of 30 knots (about 35 mph) picking up to a maximum of 40 knots (some 46 mph) after getting clearance from air traffic control at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Airport Manager Ashfaq Hussain confirmed that the aircraft had been cleared to land and there wasno signal of distress from the pilots till they were last in contact with the traffic controllers.

The plane at the time of the accident was flying at about 1500 to 1800 feet. Witnesses say that then it suddenly started to drop and within seconds plummeted to the ground. As the aircraft was making an approach for landing, it is evident that pilots had reduced engine power by then and once caught in the wind shear they had very little time to increase the speed to come out of it.

The aircraft apparently then stalled and fell to the ground. Air planes while landing particularly become vulnerable to wind shear because the wheels and flaps are down, inducing a drag, and engines are not operating at full throttle, making it difficult to remain airborne. On the ground the Bhoja Air jet broke into four pieces with no major signs of burning.

Waleed Hassan, an aviation enthusiast, talking to this correspondent from the site of the accident, said he hadn’t seen any fire tenders putting out fire or smelt burnt substance.

Yes, some of the recovered engine pieces were blackened. This was consistent with the claims by some witnesses, who said they saw one of the engines on fire before the jet came down. Experts say the pilots after getting caught in wind shear may have tried to get out of it by applying power, but one of the engines in the process may have flamed out, in causing the plane to go into ‘unusual attitude’. A lesser likelihood, the experts said, could be fuel depletion.


============

Pakistan Plane Crash 2012: Chequered past of Karachi-based Bhoja Air

Pakistan’s Bhoja Air, whose ill-fated 27-year-old Boeing 737 aircraft that crashed near Rawalpindi, 10 km away from Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Friday, with 127 on board, had a chequered past.

Bhoja Air came under debt crisis and ceased its operations in 2000 but re-launched in 2011. In fact, the ill-fated flight was on its maiden flight from Karachi to Islamabad after a gap of 11 years. Bhoja Air has resumed its flights just a month ago after nursing bad debts for over a decade following cancellation of its flights in 2001. It had retained its license throughout, though.

The Karachi-based airlines was among the first to start private flights in Pakistan in 1993 with leased aircraft Boeing 737-200. It had announced its maiden flight on its website on April 20 proudly but the fate has turned different for the ailing airlines.

Incidentally, the aircraft Boeing 737-200 was retired by Shaheen Airlines but was put into service by the Bhoja Air last month.

=============

Passenger plane escapes accident as tyre bursts amid landing
DawnNews | DAWN.COM | 6 mins ago
0

Karachi airport runway was shut down following the incident, and all flights to and from the airport were suspended till 5 pm today.—Reuters (File Photo)

KARACHI: Less than two days after an airline jet crashed near Islamabad that killing all 127 people onboard, another plane narrowly escaped a major accident on Sunday at the Karachi Airport runway.

The plane suffered problems when one of its tyres burst causing the aircraft to tilt towards its side during landing.

The Karachi airport runway was shut down following the incident.

The Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a probe of the matter and all flights to and from the airport were suspended till 5 pm today.

The plane, which was a Boeing 737 belonging to private airline Shaheen Airways,

Some passengers on board the plane complained that the pilot never opened the emergency gates and the passengers were stranded on the aircraft for at least half an hour following the accident.

Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has also has ordered an inspection of all aircraft being operated by private airlines in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, at the Lahore airport, a flight bound for Mashhad, Iran was delayed due to technical difficulties.

According to reports, flight number 742 was delayed due to a leakage in the jet’s fuel tank. However, officials at the private airline said the reason for the delay was over-fueling.


=====================================================================By Saad HasanPublished: April 22, 2012A video grab of Farooq Bhoja from two weeks ago when the service was relaunched. PHOTO: EXPRESSKARACHI: At around 7pm on Saturday Omar Farooq Bhoja didn’t know that news of him being taken into custody was making the rounds on television channels.“What? Have I been taken into custody? Who said that?” he said speaking to The Express Tribune. When told about the news tickers, he paused for a while and then said: “Bas! Allah malik hay.” The phone went dead after that.The news channels quoted the Federal Investigation Agency. Legal and insurance experts say what could follow is a long battle for the fragile Bhoja Air, which renewed operations just last month.In the last two aircraft crashes involving Pakistani airlines, the relatives were compensated in varying amounts. Airblue agreed to pay Rs5.5 million to each family of the 152 people onboard the flight which crashed on July 28, 2010. Most of them have taken the money but some are fighting cases.After the 2006 Fokker crash of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), it paid Rs2 million per family. “I am pretty sure that Bhoja would have to compensate with Rs5.5 million. A precedent has been set by Airblue,” said Yahya Adeel, an aviation lawyer. “The Carriage by Air Act 2011 says a family must be compensated by Rs500,000. But that is in conflict with a lot of international conventions.”Pakistan is a signatory to the Montreal Convention, which says families of the dead be given 100,000 SDRs (special drawing rights) in damages. Each SDR is equal to $1,544, which comes to around Rs14 million.The sponsor of Airblue, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, says he was lucky to have good insurance cover. “The international reinsurers were able to quickly mobilise funds.”About the perception of an airline after a crash, he said the business must continue to run. “That is very important. We didn’t stop the flights. And trust me after 10 per cent seat cancellations following the crash, things were back to normal in three days.”Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.

========

Mehfil-e-Mustafa (Qusais Imambargah) Dubai
Majlis to commemorate Shahadat e Bibi Fatima Zehra (sa) will be held on Thursday 25-Apr at 8:00 pm sharp. The program will begin with recitation of Sura e Yaseen followed by Dua e Kumail, Majlis and Noha o Matam. Niaz will be served thereafter.

Majlis and niaz is for the Isale sawab of:

* Marhoom Haji Habib Jaffer Ali & Marhoom family members
* Mehdi Raza Najumul Hasan Bhojani & Marhoomeen of Bhojani family.