Archive

Archive for August, 2010

Muslims donate $1 billion to Pakistan

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Muslims donate $1 billion to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD — Muslim countries, organizations and individuals have pledged nearly $1 billion in cash and relief supplies to help Pakistan respond to the worst floods in the nation’s history, the head of a group of Islamic states said Sunday.

The announcement came as floodwaters inundated a large town in Pakistan and authorities struggled to build new levees with clay and stone to prevent one of the area’s biggest cities from suffering the same fate.

Foreign countries have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help Pakistan cope with the floods, which first hit the country about a month ago after extremely heavy monsoon rains. But some officials had criticized the Muslim world for not contributing enough.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the 57-member Organization of The Islamic Conference, likely sought to counter that criticism by announcing that Muslims have pledged nearly $1 billion. The pledges came from Muslim states, NGOs, OIC institutions and telethons held in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, he said.

“They have shown that they are one of the largest contributors of assistance both in kind and cash,” said Ihsanoglu of the various donors. He spoke during a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

Ihsanoglu did not provide a breakdown of the pledges or say how much of the money would flow through the Pakistani government versus independent organizations.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani criticized donations made to foreign NGOs rather than the Pakistani government Sunday, saying much of the money would be wasted

“Eighty percent of the aid will not come to you directly,” said Gilani, referring to Pakistani citizens.

“It will come through their NGOs, and they will eat half of it,” he said during a press conference in his hometown of Multan.

The floods began in the mountainous northwest about a month ago and have moved slowly down the country toward the coast in the south, inundating vast swaths of prime agricultural land and damaging or destroying more than 1 million homes.

Floodwaters surged into the southern town of Sujawal on Sunday after breaking through a levee on the Indus River two days earlier, said Hadi Baksh, a disaster management official in southern Sindh province. Most of the town’s 250,000 residents had already fled, but the damage to homes, clinics and schools added to the widespread devastation the floods have caused across Pakistan.

Authorities in Sujawal were trying to limit the flood damage, but the water level has already risen up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in the center of town and 10 feet (3 meters) in the surrounding villages, said Anwarul Haq, the top official in Sujawal.

The floodwaters also threatened Thatta, a historic city of some 350,000 people who have mostly fled to higher ground. Thatta is the base of operations for local authorities trying to cope with a disaster that has overwhelmed the Pakistani government and international partners who have stepped in to help.

Authorities rushed to build makeshift levees across the road connecting Sujawal and Thatta, parts of which were already flooded, Baksh said.

“We are trying to plug the bridges at three different points to stop the water flow toward Thatta,” said Baksh. “We are trying all our best efforts.”

Thatta is located about 75 miles (125 kilometers) southeast of the major coastal city of Karachi and 15 miles northwest of Sujawal.

Many of the people who fled Sujawal and Thatta headed to Makli, a hill just south of Thatta that contains a vast Muslim graveyard.

About half a million flood victims are camped out on the hill, Baksh said. Most lack any form of shelter and are desperate for food and water.

“We don’t have water to drink, not to mention food, tents or any other facility,” said Mohammed Usman, a laborer who fled Sujawal several days ago and needed water to help cope with a painful kidney stone.

The United Nations, the Pakistani army and a host of local and international relief groups have rushed aid workers, medicine, food and water to the affected regions, but are unable to reach many of the 8 million people who are in need of emergency assistance.

The U.S. said Saturday it would deploy an additional 18 helicopters to help with the relief effort. The U.S. military is already operating 15 helicopters and three C-130 aircraft in the country, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. Muslims donate nearly $1 billion to Pakistan By ASIF SHAHZAD (AP). Associated Press writer Ashraf Khan contributed to this report from Karachi.

Categories: Article

Do Delhi agencies fund Indian bookies who bribe Pakistani cricket

August 31, 2010 2 comments

Do Delhi agencies fund Indian bookies who bribe Pakistani cricket

It is a matter of fact that “Satta” is big in Mumbia and that the high stake betting is pat of the Bharati culture. It is also a fact that the current scandal plaguing the young Pakistani players involves some prominent Bharati bookies. The fact remains that in all previous scandals the bookies were traced back to Indians in Dubai and Mumbai. The root cause of all evil in cricket is in Mumbai. Young players from lower middle class families are enticed with colossal amounts which they are unable to refuse.

While exemplary punishment has to be given to the players who throw no-balls on cue, the fact remains that cricket has to be purified from the curse of the bookies in Bharat. These bookies should be the responsibility of the Bharati government. Delhi is responsible for sending out “bookie ‘bombs’ ” that are destroying cricket in general. The IPL circus is the other curse on cricket. They can call IPL anything they want, they should not call it cricket.

LONDON: The man at the centre of an alleged betting scam involving the Pakistan cricket team was out on bail Monday as police, governments and authorities probed the scandal rocking the sport.

Mazhar Majeed, 35, was released from custody having been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers, following a newspaper’s claim that he took money in return for exact details on no-balls in the Lord’s Test match between England and Pakistan.

The allegations have caused uproar in Pakistan and shaken a sport that prides itself on being considered synonymous with fair play.

British police bailed Majeed without charge late Sunday.

“A 35-year-old man has been bailed until a date in the future,” a Scotland Yard spokesman told AFP.

He said the police would not be discussing the date or his bail conditions.

Scotland Yard detectives have also grilled Pakistan captain Salman Butt and two of their star strike bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif in their investigation.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the claims “have bowed our heads in shame”, as he launched an investigation.

The News of the World newspaper said it paid Majeed 150,000 pounds (230,000 dollars, 185,000 euros) in return for advance details about the timing of three no-balls in the fourth and final Test, which England won on Sunday to take the series 3-1.

The report said Aamer and Asif delivered blatant no-balls at the exact points in the match indicated by the alleged middleman.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said detectives had on Saturday visited the team’s hotel, where Butt and the bowlers had been interviewed about the allegations.

All three gave statements to the police, who took away their mobile phones.

Scotland Yard said they could not discuss persons interviewed as part of an inquiry.

The News of the World published a photograph, video and audio of its encounters with Majeed. He was pictured counting wads of banknotes given to him by a reporter posing as a front man for a betting syndicate.

The Lord’s Test was played to a finish Sunday, but unusually, the post-match presentation ceremony did not take place on the outfield but was moved inside the pavilion.

During the ceremony, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke refused to shake Aamer’s hand when presenting the player with the Pakistan Man of the Series award and a cheque for 4,000 pounds.

Despite the allegations, Saeed denied that Pakistani cricket was “institutionally corrupt”.

“I would not like to say that,” he said. “Yes, one has heard and one has read (allegations), but I would not like to go that far.” A defiant Butt insisted he would not resign the Test team captaincy over the claims.

“Anybody can stand out and say anything about you, that doesn’t make them true,” he said.

In Pakistan, Gilani said a probe was under way.

“The latest fixing allegations have bowed our heads in shame,” the prime minister told reporters in his home town of Multan.

“I have ordered a thorough inquiry into these allegations so that action could be taken against those who are proven guilty.” President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed his disappointment at the claims and is being informed of developments.

The country’s federal sports minister Ijaz Jakhrani promised that any players found guilty would be severely punished.

If wrongdoing was proven, “all the players involved must forget to play for Pakistan in future,” he said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said they had requested access to the ongoing investigation.

The no-balls at the centre of the claims were bowled on Thursday and Friday.

Pakistan’s players now face an awkward time as they must remain in England for a series of one-day matches.

“As far as I am concerned the one-day series is on,” Saeed said.

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan said cricket in Pakistan must not be allowed to be dragged down by corrupt players.

“Why should Pakistan cricket suffer if some players have indulged in a crime?” he told Britain’s ITV television.

“The people who are found guilty should be removed from the team and replaced and should be punished as an example.” Ramiz Raja, the former Pakistan captain and later PCB chief executive, wrote in The Daily Telegraph newspaper Monday: “It is a disaster for cricket…those players must now be dealt with severely.

“For them to do it at Lord’s, the Mecca of cricket, brings extreme shame and sadness.” The latest allegations are a further blow to cricket in Pakistan, already at a low ebb with home matches ruled out due to terrorism fears.

The team has been dogged by “fixing” allegations since the 1990s and also embroiled in ball-tampering. – AFP

Some analysts are investigating possible links between Bharati intelligence agencies and the bookies. After all the Bharati agencies have a stake in maligning their enemies and making them look bad in politics and in sports. It is pedagogical to note that RAW did help the LTTE attack the Lankan cricket players in Lahore. That event isolated Pakistani cricket to foreign tours. Many are raising their eyebrows on the antics of Bharati bookies who are playing a central role in all cricket scandals involving Pakistan. Of course this cannot be a coincidence. The Pakistani intelligence agencies should conduct a thorough investigation into the roots of this corruption.

Categories: Article Tags: ,

The world’s best philanthropist: Edhi

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Calling Edhi a “Mother Tareas” is like calling the Pope a Priest of Fayetville Arkansas. Edhi is in a class of his own.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The aging man in mud-splattered, frayed clothes has barely lowered his body onto the sidewalk when the money starts piling up. Heeding his call for donations for flood victims, Pakistanis of all classes rush to hand over cash to Abdul Sattar Edhi, whose years of dedication to the poor have made him a national icon.

He thanks each donor, some of whom ask to have their photo taken next to him. Four hours later, the crowd remains — and the equivalent of $15,000 is overflowing from a pink basket in front of him.

Edhi has been helping the destitute and sick for more than 60 years, filling the hole left by a state that has largely neglected the welfare of its citizens. Part Mother Teresa, part Gandhi, with a touch of Marx, he is the face of humanitarianism in Pakistan.

Funded by donations from fellow citizens, his 250 centers across the country take in orphans, the mentally ill, unwanted newborns, drug addicts, the homeless, the sick and the aged. His fleet of ambulances picks up victims of terrorist bombings, gang shootings, car accidents and natural disasters.

Pakistan’s corruption-riddled government acknowledges Edhi and other charities do the work that in other nations the state performs. The country has no national health service, insurance program or welfare system, and few state-run orphanages or old people’s homes.

The foundation offers an alternative to charitable work performed by hardline Islamist groups in Pakistan, some with alleged links to terrorism. The spread of these organizations has triggered concerns in the West, including their work in the aftermath of this summer’s floods.

Edhi is a devout Muslim, but critical of Islamic clerics in general, not just extremists. He says they focus on ritual, preaching hellfire and defending the faith against imagined enemies, rather than helping the poor — which he says should be the cornerstone of all faiths.

The 80-something Edhi — he and his children disagree on his exact age — lives with his wife, herself a charity worker, in a tiny room in one of his welfare centers in Karachi, a bustling port city. His bed is a one-inch thick mattress on a piece of wood.

“I am a beggar for the poor,” he says, stained teeth showing in a wide smile, eyes sparkling after a week touring flood-hit areas. “Serving humanity is the biggest jihad. It is the real thing.”

___

Edhi deals with birth and death, and almost everything in between.

Just above his bedroom, a maternity ward and an orphanage are home to 18 children, many of them abandoned by their mothers in cradles left outside his centers. They wear hand-me-downs from the city’s rich. Edhi’s wife, Bilquis, tries to get the children adopted, but few Pakistanis want to take girls or older children, she says.

On a recent afternoon, the kids shouted out English nursery rhymes and danced. They then sat cross-legged on the floor, drinking tea from plastic mugs and eating spicy pastries and sticky sweets that an anonymous benefactor had dropped off.

The home was clean and bright, with plenty of toys and loving staff. But there was no place to play outside, and the roar of motorbikes from the lanes below was a constant backdrop.

Across town, workers at the Edhi morgue were dealing with latest influx of bodies. They receive around 25 a day, half of which are never claimed — the city’s unloved and unknown.

Working quickly but carefully, they cut the clothes from the bodies, lather them with a bar of soap from head to toe, rinse them with water from a jug, then wrap them in a white sheet. The bodies are bussed across town, prayed over and buried in unmarked graves.

The body of American journalist Daniel Pearl, killed by al-Qaida terrorists in Karachi in 2002, was picked up by an Edhi ambulance and taken to the morgue, the largest in the city of 14 million people.

The morgue is attached to a hospital for the homeless, a dispensary, a shelter for boys and women and children, even a wedding hall for the marriages arranged for children who have been looked after by the foundation. The smell of baking bread from an oven that churns out 9,000 loaves a day fills the air.

“The poor can come here and get a solution to all their problems,” says Ejal Hassan Zaidi, who had accompanied a neighbor to the morgue to collect the body of his 3-year-old daughter, killed in a hit-and-run incident hours earlier. “From the cradle to the grave.”

___

Born in what is now India, Edhi and his parents moved to Pakistan in 1947 when that country was created as a Muslim state at the end of British colonial rule. The family was quite well off — his father was a traveling salesman — and socially progressive.

In his biography, Edhi credits his mother for setting him on a humanitarian path. She urged him to give half his pocket money to someone poor every day and rebuked him if he didn’t.

“‘You have a selfish heart, one that has nothing to give,’” he remembers her saying. “‘What kind of human being are you? Look at the greed in your eyes. Already you have started robbing the poor. How much more will you rob from them in your lifetime?”

When she was dying, he looked after her, bathing her emaciated body and washing and braiding her hair — experiences that would also shape his life.

“The first night she spent in the grave, I dedicated my life to the service of mankind,” he says.

Edhi started small. In 1951, he bought an eight-foot-square shop in a slum neighborhood in Karachi that he converted into a dispensary. Seven years later he bought a van that he used as an ambulance, writing “Poor Man’s Van” on both sides.

He became intimately involved in the business of caring for the sick and dying. He would drive the ambulance to the scene of an accident to pick up the bodies, administer injections during a flu outbreak and travel across the country to help after earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Edhi’s record of round-the-clock service and frugal lifestyle attracted donations, and he soon had a fleet of 14 ambulances. In the 1980s and 90s, he opened centers and ambulance services throughout the country. He donated $200,000 to releif efforts after Hurricane Katrina, and his workers have also helped out in disasters in Asia and the Middle East.

___

Pakistanis are a generous people, required by their Muslim faith to give away 2.5 percent of their wealth each year. The last nationwide survey done in 1998 showed that Pakistanis gave the then equivalent of $820 million to charity, around the same as the government’s health and education budget at the time. There are no numbers on how rising terrorism and a poor economy have affected this philanthropy.

Edhi does not accept donations from international organizations or governments, including Pakistan’s, saying he doesn’t need outside help and it is important for Pakistanis to help each other. He and his wife live simply of the interest from some savings.

The foundation does not produce detailed financial statements or annual reports. Edhi points to a wall of files in one office in which he says everything is accounted for. Donors do not seem to mind, such is their trust in him.

“You ask any Pakistani on the streets, Edhi is total credible with them,” says Anjum Haque, the executive director of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy. “The success of the trust is down to Edhi himself.”

Last year, donations to Edhi-run charities totaled around $5 million, according to Faisal Edhi, the founder’s son and trust member. A significant chunk of the funds comes from overseas Pakistanis, who want to donate to their homeland.

Edhi Village, a 65-acre complex in the undulating hills beyond the northern slums of Karachi, is home to 300 children, many picked up off the streets, and 900 adults, many elderly or suffering from mental disabilities.

Most wear clean, ironed clothes, and the food is fresh. Yet there are also signs of neglect. One naked youth dragged himself through a puddle. Some had no shoes and begged visitors to buy them a pair.

The adults live in rooms around the size of three tennis courts, bare except for raised sections for sleeping. They are locked inside for part of the day. There are two doctors, four nurses and two ward boys looking after them.

“We do the most we can do with our resources,” says Billal Mohammad, a regional Edhi manager. “They would be living on the pavement under the sky. We give them shelter, food and treatment. You must not see this place throughout Western eyes.”

___

Edhi has made no secret of his dislike of Pakistan’s ruling class. So it was a surprise to see a gaggle of politicians using one of his orphanages in Karachi as a venue to mark the recent birthday of President Asif Ali Zardari.

The visitors spooned cake into the mouths of the children, shouted political slogans for television cameras and asked Edhi to be photographed next to them. He said he only let the politicians in so the children would have a party to enjoy.

“So what if the politicians are using me? They even use God,” said Edhi, who sat by himself for most of the event. “Landowners, clerics, politicians. They are all looters. There is no fear in telling the truth.”

Hardline Islamist groups have criticized Edhi for his progressive views on women and the secular nature of his work. Some have said that by accepting newly-born babies from unmarried mothers, he is promoting premarital sex.

“We meet them and we read their newspapers. They say we are non-Muslims, unbelievers and communists,” says Faisal Edhi. “The jihadi groups don’t like us. They don’t believe in humanity.”

There are questions about what will happen to the foundation when Edhi dies. He says his two sons and three daughters will take over, though without him at the helm, people may not give as generously.

For now, his children appear more concerned about their father’s health. Apart from an afternoon nap, he works just as hard as he did when he was in his 30s, they say.

“We tell him to take it easy, but he doesn’t listen,” says daughter Almas Edhi. “He wants to keep busy.”
On the Net:

http://www.edhifoundation.com/

http://www.pcp.org.pk/

Aging philanthropist is Pakistan’s Mother Teresa

By CHRIS BRUMMITT (AP)

Categories: Article