15 August 2020

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Saturday, April 14, 2012
Kabul (BNA) President Hamid Karzai met Stephen Smith, Defense Minister of Australia at presidential palace the other day. 
Australian Defense Minister said Australia is interested in foregoing a strategic partnership with Afghanistan. 
Defense Minister Smith said, the draft strategic partnership document has been handed over to the Afghan Ministry of foreign affairs and hoped that the draft be finalized as soon as possible by the governments of the two countries which is expected to be signed by the presidents of the two countries during Chicago Conference. 
Pointing at a series of strategic partnerships between Afghanistan and some key countries in the world, Stephen Smith stressed that Australia is also interested in long-term cooperation with Afghanistan and gave assurances that the international community would not leave Afghans alone beyond 2014. 
Briefing president Karzai on his trip to southern provinces of Afghanistan, the Australian Defense Minister said that security situation has improved in Uruzgan province and the province is fully prepared for the 3rd phase of security transition. 
President Karzai thanked Australia for its assistance and cooperation with Afghanistan and said that the Afghan government would review the draft strategic partnership documents as quickly as possible so that it could be finalized for signing. 
Expressing his gratitude for activities carried out by the Australian troops in Uruzgan province, the president called on the Australian soldiers to further contribute to enhancing education in that province.

Saturday, April 14, 2012
Kabul (BNA) Present at the meeting which was held at presidential palace the other day, Fazel Hadi Muslimyar Chief of the Senate, supports the government in national issues. 
Urfani supported the serious position taken by the government in relation to night operations and transition of the Bagram prison to Afghanistan and called them as big steps towards consolidation of the national sovereignty in Afghanistan. 
He added that in the coming conference of Chicago that will discuss Afghan security issues the international partners of Afghanistan should take up the issue of equipping of the security forces of Afghanistan. 
They also asked for participation of the Senate at the Tokyo and Chicago Conferences and also continued meetings with the president of the country. 
They also declared their support of the peace process and stressed that the peace mechanism needs reviewing. 
They supported creation of a Taliban office and said that this office does not mean political representation and the main side in the talks with armed opposition should be the Afghan government. 
President Karzai said at this meeting all the accomplishments of the security forces of the country should be in accord with the Constitution and other laws in the country and these forces should serve the people of Afghanistan and respect human rights. 
He accepted continued meetings of the senators with the president of the country.

Saturday, April 14, 2012
Kabul (BNA) At the meeting that held Thursday at the Presidential Palace, views were exchanged on the common political situation and threats in the three countries from terrorism and extremism that Afghanistan, India and Pakistan are facing. 
The participants of this meeting also discussed the peace process of Afghanistan and the role of the foreign forces after 2014, presence of the US military bases in Afghanistan after 2014 and the regional situation. 
President Karzai said extremism should not be utilized as a political tool, because it’s the first degree enemy of the three countries especially for Pakistan. 
He added that Pakistan what it has at its disposal should cooperate in the peace process of Afghanistan and put up strong struggle against extremism. 
He noted that this assurance should be given to India that the Afghan peace process shall never harm that country. 
Adding, that I am sure that the political leadership of Pakistan and India and I believe that they want better future for the coming generation in this region and they well understand the common threats the three countries are facing now. 
He emphasized that by understanding these common threats, the three countries should make a strong struggle against extremism and our today’s meeting is an indicator for closure of the three countries and attaining this common objective. 
The specialists and political and military analysts of India, Pakistan for the past two years with the initiative and support of the Ottawa University of Canada are discussing and analyzing the regional situation overwhelming India and Pakistan and recently the political and military specialists of Afghanistan also joined this group. 
At the meeting the ambassadors of India and Pakistan in Kabul and some other specialists of political and military spheres of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan were also present.
 

Saturday 14 April 2012,

WASHINGTON: The US officials have said that the United States has no intentions to stop drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

The US newspaper, citing officials, has claimed that drones strikes will continue against militants and their hideouts in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the White House is considering to issue an official apology over Salala check post attack that resulted in the martyrdom of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The joint sitting of the Parliament Thursday approved the recommendations presented by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) in connection with the terms of engagement with US and matters relating to the national security of Pakistan.

Earlier, reading out the 'revised report' of the PCNS from the floor of the Parliament, the Committee's Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani said: "The relationship with USA should be based on mutual respect for each other's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity."

He said Pakistan's sovereignty 'shall not be compromised'.

Rabbani said the US footprint in Pakistan must be reviewed, calling for an immediate cessation of drone attacks and infiltration into Pakistani territory on any pretext including hot-pursuit.

He said Pakistani territory including its airspace shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan.

Pakistan nuclear programme and assets including their security will not be compromised, he continued.

"The US-Indo agreement on civil nuclear agreement has significantly altered the strategic balance in the region," he said, adding, therefore Pakistan should seek from US another similar facility.

"Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to the elimination of terrorism and combating extremism in pursuance of its national interests."

He said the government of Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US on the unprovoked incident of Salala attack dated 25th-26th November 2011 in Mohmand Agency which claimed lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

"Those held responsible for the Mohmand Agency attack should be brought to justice," he said, adding Pakistan should be given assurances that such attacks or any other attacks impinging on Pakistan's sovereignty will not reoccur.

He said no verbal agreement regarding national security shall be made with any foreign government or authority and all such agreements and understandings shall cease to exist forthwith.

Raza Rabbani said no overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be committed.

 

Saturday, 14 April 2012 03:18

Menthol smokers have more strokes: study

Saturday 14 April 2012,

NEW YORK: Among smokers, people who prefer mentholated cigarettes tend to have more strokes than non-menthol smokers - and this seems to be especially true for women and non-African Americans, according to a North American study.

The author of the study said that while no cigarettes are good for the health, the findings - published in the Archives of Internal Medicine - suggest people should especially stay away from mentholated varieties.

"They're all bad, but having said that, from a harm-reduction perspective this study does lend to the view of avoiding - at a minimum - mentholated types," said Nicholas Vozoris, a clinical associate at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

For the study, Vozoris used information taken from U.S. health and lifestyle surveys that included 5,028 adult smokers. The surveys were conducted from 2001 through 2008.

Overall, about 26 percent of those participants said they usually smoked mentholated cigarettes, and the rest smoked non-mentholated ones.

Some experts say menthol makes it easier to start smoking and harder to quit because its taste masks the harshness of tobacco.

Of menthol smokers, 3.4 percent said on the surveys they'd had a stroke. That compared to 2.7 percent of the non-menthol smokers.

After taking into account smokers' age, race, gender and number of cigarettes smoked, Vozoris found mentholated cigarette smokers had more than double the risk of stroke compared to those who opted for non-mentholated cigarettes.

The difference was especially clear in women and people who reported a race other than African American on their surveys. Among those study participants, strokes were over three times more common in menthol smokers.

Vozoris told Reuters Health that the study couldn't prove that the mentholated cigarettes themselves caused the extra stroke risk, rather than some unmeasured difference between menthol and non-menthol smokers.

He added that women and non-African Americans seemed to be driving the link between mentholated cigarettes and strokes, but he wasn't sure why and the study didn't answer that either.

Choosing mentholated cigarettes wasn't tied to an increased risk of high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, chronic lung disease or heart attack compared to standard cigarettes.

Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association and chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said it was interesting that the study showed an association between smoking mentholated cigarettes and strokes but not high blood pressure.

Vozoris said it's possible the menthol in cigarettes has an effect on the blood vessels that supply the brain in particular.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking any type of cigarettes increases a person's risk of heart disease two- to four-fold compared to non-smokers.

Tomaselli, who wasn't part of the study, added: "(This) reminds us that the effects of cigarette smoke is pretty broad-based and (it affects) a number of organ systems

 

Saturday 14 April 2012,

WASHINGTON: A Pakistani man living in the United States was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release for providing material support for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), US official said.

Jubair Ahmad, 24, who lived in Woodbridge, Virginia, received the sentence after being found guilty of promoting and urging recruitment for the Pakistani group, designated by Washington as foreign terrorist organization, the Justice Department said.

"We've seen a sharp increase in terrorists' use of social networking services like YouTube to reach a worldwide audience," said US attorney Neil MacBride.

Ahmad was "deeply committed to LeT's violent aims, which he promoted through online propaganda, recruiting others and fundraising" for the group, which was behind the deadly 2008 attack in Mumbai, India that left 160 people dead

 

ISLAMABAD: 

Friday 13 April,

Pakistan Parliament has unanimously approved new guidelines for the country’s troubled ties with the United States on Thursday, in what could be an important step in putting relations back on track

The revised recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) presented in joint session of the parliament declared that sovereignty of Pakistan shall not be compromised and relationship with the United States should be based on mutual respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of each other.

The 14-point recommendations presented by PCNS chairman Senator Raza Rabbani, say that US footprint in Pakistan must be reviewed. This would mean an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside Pakistan cessation of infiltration into Pakistani territory on any pretext including hot pursuit.

Pakistani territory including its air space shall not be used for transportation of arms and ammunition to the Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The recommendations also say that Pakistan’s nuclear program and assets including its safety and security cannot be compromised.

The US-India civil nuclear agreement has significantly altered strategic balance in the region and therefore Pakistan should seek from the US and others a similar treatment.

The strategic position of Pakistan as well as India on the subject of FMCT (Fissile Material Cut off Treaty) must not be compromised and this principle be kept in view in negotiations on this matter.

Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US for November 26, 2011 unprovoked Salala check post incident.

Those held responsible for Mohmand Agency attack should be brought to justice. Pakistan should be given assurances that such attacks or any other acts impinging on the country’s sovereignty will not recur.

Ministry of Defense and Pakistan Air Force PAF should formulate new flying rules for areas contiguous to the border.

As per revised recommendations no verbal agreement regarding national security shall be entered into by the Government or any department or organization with any foreign Government or authority.

Washington has been eagerly awaiting the results of the parliamentary review, saying it will be key to reopening supply lines to Nato troops in neighboring Afghanistan. Islamabad closed the supply lines in November to protest US airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

The new guidelines call for an end to US drone strikes, but also stated that the supply lines should be reopened, albeit with a higher fee charged to US and Nato forces.

Parliament approved them late Thursday in a vote.

The government will now formulate policy based on the guidelines.

 

 

Friday 13 April 2012,

 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will deport the widows and children of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to Saudi Arabia next week after their jail sentence for illegal residency ends, their lawyer said on Friday.

Earlier this month a Pakistani court sentenced the women to 45 days in prison for illegally staying in the country. It ordered their deportation after the prison term which began on March 3 when they were formally arrested.

"They are likely to be deported to Saudi Arabia on April 18, as their sentence ends on April 17," the family's lawyer, Aamir Khalil, told Reuters.

The three widows and the children were among the 16 people detained after the US raid. Two of the wives are Saudi nationals, and one is from Yemen

 

Friday 13 April,

 

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reveled how she and the fellow White House officials were so astonished while watching live footage of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden that they "could not breathe for 30-35 minutes."

In a speech to cadets at the US Naval Academy in Maryland, Clinton gave a first-hand account of the incredible tension in the famous 'Situation Room' as the drama unfolded.

When asked to reflect on bin Laden's death and the process leading up to the mission that killed him in his Abbotabad compound, Clinton recalled her time as a New York senator during 9/11, and how the attack had affected so many of her constituents.

Clinton then moved on to recount the night of the raid and told how none of the officials in the room watching the operation, including President Barack Obama 'could breathe for 30-35 minutes,' The Daily Mail reports.

In the picture released by the White House last year, Clinton, Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of the national security team were seen watching as Navy Seals stormed the compound in Pakistan to take out the al-Qaida leader.

According to the paper, Clinton, who was giving speech on US Asia-Pacific policy, also discussed North Korea's impending satellite launch programme and described it as a provocation that threatens the security of the region.

She stressed that history shows North Korea may follow a planned long-range rocket launch in violation of a UN ban with 'additional provocations.

 

Friday 13 April,

 

WASHINGTON: People worldwide are living three years longer than expected on average, pushing up the costs of aging by 50 percent, and governments and pension funds are ill prepared, the International Monetary Fund said.

Already the cost of caring for aging baby boomers is beginning to strain government budgets, particularly in advanced economies where by 2050 the elderly will match the numbers of workers almost one for one. The IMF study shows that the problem is global and that longevity is a bigger risk than thought.

"If everyone in 2050 lived just three years longer than now expected, in line with the average underestimation of longevity in the past, society would need extra resources equal to 1 to 2 percent of GDP per year," it said in a study to be released in its World Economic Outlook next week.

For private pension plans in the United States alone, an extra three years of life would add 9.0 percent to liabilities, the IMF said in urging governments and the private sector to prepare now for the risk of longer lifespans.

Demographers for many years have assumed that the lengthening of lifespans would slow in developed countries. But with continual advances in medical technology, that has not happened as acutely as expected. In emerging economies, rising standards of living and the expansion of health care also are adding to lifespans.

To give an idea of how costly this could prove, the IMF estimated that if advanced economies were to plug the shortfall in pension savings of an extra three years immediately, they would have to stash away the equivalent of 50 percent of 2010 GDP, and emerging economies would need 25 percent.

These extra costs fall on top of the doubling in total expenses that countries can expect through 2050 from an aging population. The faster countries tackle the problem, the easier it will be to handle the risk of people living longer, the IMF said.

These estimates cover only pensions. They do not account for healthcare costs, which also rise the longer someone lives.

In a December 2009 study, the MacArthur Research Network on Aging estimated that Americans are living between three and eight years longer than commonly expected, adding $3.2 trillion to the Medicare and Social Security, the government-backed healthcare plan for the elderly and pension program.

In North America and advanced Europe, lifespans increased by eight years between 1970 and 2010, and are projected to increase by an additional four years through 2050 -- that's about five weeks more per year.

At the same time old-age dependency, or the ratio of population over 65 to those in the prime working ages of 15 to 64, is expected to increase from 24 percent to 48 percent of the total population in advanced economies by 2050 -- in other words roughly one worker for every retired person.

Emerging Europe has seen lifespans grow more slowly by 1.1 years in the 40 years to 2010 but can expect longevity to rise sharply by 6.8 years in the next 40 years, the IMF said. For emerging economies, their old-age dependency ratios are expected to rise from 13 percent today to 33 percent by 2050.

Steps governments can take to manage the risk of people living longer are to raise the retirement age, increase taxes to fund public pension plans and lower benefits -- all steps most advanced economies are already considering.

They also could help the private sector by educating citizens better on how to prepare for their retirements and by promoting retirement products that protect people against the risk that they outlive their assets.

"Although longevity risk is a slow-burning issue, it increases the vulnerability of the public and the private sector to various other shocks," the IMF said in its study