Prime Minister Sacks
The simmering tensions between the government and army on the memogate scandal exploded into a full-blown crisis last week when the Prime Minister sacked the defence secretary for his "gross misconduct" in triggering a row between the army and civilian leadership. A statement issued by Prime Minister's House said the Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi had been sacked "for creating misunderstanding between the state institutions". Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi has been given additional charge of the Ministry of Defence, it added.
Army Won't Work With
Nargis Sethi, Reports NYT
The New York Times reported that the Pakistan Army was likely to refuse to work with Nargis Sethi, the new Defence Secretary, appointed after Lt Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi was sacked by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The newspaper quoted a military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, who said the development signalled the possibility of a serious rupture between the army and the civilian government. "The army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new secretary of defence," said the anonymous official.
The report said, "Gilani fired his defence secretary, a retired general and confidant of Pakistan army chief."
Gilani accused the dismissed secretary of defence, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a former general and corps commander, of 'gross misconduct and illegal action' and of 'creating misunderstanding between the state institutions.' He replaced Lodhi with a civilian, Nargis Sethi.
Ordinarily, the defence secretary here is appointed with the consent of the army chief and acts as a bridge between the government and the military. The role is more powerful than that of the defence minister, a position filled by a politician from the governing party.
"It is a desperate measure," said Ikram Seghal, a defence analyst and a former army officer. "They want the army to react and to make a coup."
Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military and political analyst, said the firing would only exacerbate the situation for the civilian government. "If the Prime Minister now tries to fire the army chief, it will have very dangerous consequences," Rizvi said.
Appointed To Head 111 Brigade
Brigadier Sarfraz Ali has assumed the command of the 111 Brigade of the Pakistan Army, the ISPR confirmed recently, adding that 'the posting of the incoming 111-Brigade Commander is a routine posting.'
The 111 Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Pakistan Army, notorious for its frequent involvement and fast response in military coup.
The confirmation that the change was a routine posting came after electronic media went wild painting doomsday scenarios after it became known that the 'coup' brigade had gotten a new commander.
However, insiders say since Brigadier Javed was promoted to the rank of Major General several weeks back and sent to Lahore as GOC and, therefore, there was a need to appoint a new commander. However, the change of command still sparked rumours, given the history of the brigade.
The 111 Brigade is part of the Rawalpindi Corps and is specially equipped to carry out special operations. "The change does not mean anything as both the outgoing and incoming military officers are under military discipline and cannot do anything without the consent/approval of the General Headquarters," said a former military officer.
Saleem Shahzad Commission "Unable To Identify The Culprits"
An investigation into the killing of a Pakistani journalist who reported that Islamist militants had infiltrated the military has not been able to find his murderers, an official report showed. Saleem Shahzad, a 40-year-old father of three, vanished in May last year after leaving his home in Islamabad to appear on a television talk show, two days after writing an article about links between rogue elements of the navy and al Qaeda following an attack on a naval base. The Inter-Services Intelligence directorate has denied as "baseless" allegations that it was involved in his murder. A government commission set up to investigate the death and comprised of senior judges, provincial police chiefs and a journalist representative was unable to trace Shahzad's killers, said its concluding report.
In concluding remarks, the report said that Shahzad's death should be examined in the context of the "war on terror". "The Pakistani state, the non-state actors such as the Taliban and al Qaeda, and foreign actors" could all have had a motive to commit the crime. But "the commission has been unable to identify the culprits", it said.
For 54 Seats
On March 2
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced the schedule for holding Senate elections on March 2.
According to a notification, the ECP has set February 13 and 14 as the dates for filing of nomination papers with the returning officers. The scrutiny of nomination papers would be conducted on February 16 and 17. The candidates could file appeals by February 20 and 21 against the decision of the returning officers regarding acceptance or rejection of nomination papers. February 22 and 23 are the dates set for disposal of appeals. The date for withdrawal of candidature has been set for February 24, while the lists of candidates would be published on February 24.
Polling would be held on March 2 in the respective provincial assemblies. To elect four representatives from Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) and two from Islamabad, the polling would be held in National Assembly. Four minority members will join the Upper House for the first time in history.
Half of the Senators in the 100-member House are completing their stipulated tenure in March, and will be replaced by others winning the upcoming election. The polls will be held on seven general, two technocrat, two women and one non-Muslim seat from each province, four FATA, one general and one technocrat seat from Islamabad.
World's Youngest Microsoft Certified
Professional Arfa Karim Passes Away
The world's youngest Microsoft certified professional Arfa Karim lost the battle of life on January 14 at the age of 16 at the Combined Military Hospital.
Arfa suffered from heart attack which affected her brain, slipping her into a coma. She had not been conscious since December 28, 2011.
Arfa Karim Randhawa, a girl from Faisalabad who became the world's youngest Microsoft certified professional in 2004 at the age of nine, suffered a heart attack leading to a concussion, which proved fatal despite doctors' effort.
Born in 1995, Arfa was invited to the Microsoft headquarters in the US by Bill Gates for being the world's youngest MCP. Gates had also offered to conduct the child legend's treatment in the US, but the doctors advised against transporting her to the US due to the risk involved. However, the doctors at the CMH continued her treatment in consultation with specialists in the United States.
Arfa had earned the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of science and technology and the Salam Pakistan Youth Award in 2005 for her achievements. Arfa is also the youngest recipient of the President's Award for Pride of Performance.
Arfa also earned her first flight certificate by flying a plane at a flying club in Dubai at the age of 10, and was invited by Microsoft in 2006 to be a keynote speaker at the Tech-Ed Developers Conference, where she was the only Pakistani among over 5,000 developers.
Deadly Concert Leaves 3 Girls Dead
Three girls were killed in a stampede during a concert of Atif Aslam in Lahore recently.
The concert, organized by a private college, was held at the Alhamra Cultural Complex. While five students were injured, a large number also fell unconscious.
Preliminary investigations showed that a group of girls had rushed to take the autograph of Aslam when he was leaving at the end of the concert. The concert had ended late and anxious parents were outside, calling their wards on their mobile phones and asking them to come out early.
Due to the rush, the college management had asked the administration not to open the main gate because students would use the single exit and that triggered panic.
"The girls, who were trying to approach Atif, started pushing each other and some security guards used batons to keep them away from the singer. The girls ran towards the exit gate. This, it appears, led to the stampede.
A private TV channel, however, reported that the stampede was caused by rumours about a bomb. Shoes and other belongings of students were found scattered over the place.
"Today's incident has left me in a state of shock and dismay," the singer posted on his Facebook fan page. "I am deeply saddened by what transpired after Monday's concert. My deepest condolences to the victims and their families for the terrible loss that they have suffered and I pray that Allah will help them through this ordeal."