Archive | March, 2014

BO: ‘Ragini MMS 2’ collects 24 cr in opening weekend

Posted on 28 March 2014 by admin

‘SEX sells’ has been reinforced with Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Ragini MMS 2’ collecting Rs 24 crore in its opening weekend. The other three releases last Friday including Satish Kaushik’s ‘Gang of Ghosts’, Rajat Kapur’s ‘Aankhon Dekhi’ and Nagesh Kukunoor’s ‘Lakshmi’ have failed to rake in the moolah.

Exhibitor Rajesh Thadani said, `’Ragini MMS 2’ has done great business in the first weekend. The Kangna Ranaut-starrer, ‘Queen’, is going rock-steady with Rs 46 crore in its kitty. The collection of the other three films has been disappointing. None of them has touched even the Rs 3 crore mark.`

Trade experts believe that ‘Ragini MMS 2’ could have done better business had it not been for its ‘adult’ certificate. Trade analyst Amod Mehra said, `Satel-ite market for adult films is almost nonexistent, otherwise the film had bright prospects. The songs were its biggest strength.`

But did Sunny Leone’s presence in the film have anything to do with its box office collections? `’Ragini MMS’ is a franchise which generated a lot of curiosity among the audience. But Sunny’s presence, combined with the horror angle, did result in more business,` Mehra added.

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Is Sana Khan getting a boost from Waahid Khan?

Posted on 28 March 2014 by admin

Entrepreneur Waahid Khan is reportedly going out of his way to boost Sana Khan’s acting career Sana Khan’s recent appearance at a fashion show in Indore has led the gossip mills to churn out stories of an alleged romance brewing with entrepreneur Waahid Khan.

A source present at the event said, `Waahid had financed the show for which Sana was the show stopper.`

It is also rumoured that Waahid had approached several Bollywood producers asking them to cast Sana in heir respective films. the actress, however, denied the buzz of growing closeness with Waahid. `He is a married man. I don’t know how such stories come out. He is a friend and we stay in the same locality. there is nothing more to it.`

Waahid also maintained that the rumours were devoid of any truth. `We are just good friends. She is a nice girl. But at the same time, you should please understand that I am a married man with two kids,` he said in his defence.

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Kat – the new action woman in B-town

Posted on 28 March 2014 by admin

Katrina Kaif apparently said no to a body double for action sequences in two of her upcoming movies After showing off her acrobatic moves in ‘Dhoom 3’, Katrina Kaif seems to be confident of doing stunts on her own. She is said to have refusedto use a body dou-ble for action sequences in her next two films – ‘Phantom’ with Saif Ali Khan, and ‘Bang Bang’, that stars Hrithik Roshan.

A source close to the actres said since the stunts were quite dangerous, the di-rectors of the two films were worried about her safety. `They recommended a body double for her but Katrina put her foot down. She insisted on doing the scenes on her own, so that they looked real,` the source added.

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Creating opportunities for small and great ideas to flourish

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

The Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston

Samuel Getachew

Toronto

The Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston visited India recently. His trip to India indicates Canada’s immense interest in India and collaborating with it in on wide range of sectors. His Excellency and his wife Sharon Johnston’s trip focused on education, innovation and entrepreneurship. This was Mr. Johnston’s fifth visit to India in the past eight years. As Waterloo’s president, he worked to build research exchanges and twinned Waterloo with one of India’s new Institutes of Technology.

David Johnston began his professional career as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1966, moving to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo.

Mr. Johnston has served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and has also served on the boards of a number of public companies. He was president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec. He was the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and chaired the federal government’s Information Highway Advisory Council.

His academic specializations include securities regulation, information technology and corporate law. Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

He is the author or co-author of 24 books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over 20 universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Sharon Johnston. They have five daughters and ten grandchildren.

Sworn in on October 1, 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is the 28th governor general since Confederation.

Generation Next had an opportunity to do an interview with His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston:

Your Excellency – You must be excited with your state visit to India. What are some of the highlights of this particular visit?

Answer:  We were so pleased to undertake this State visit to India.  Sharon and I were highlights.  India and Canada share many of the same priorities.  We had great discussions on learning and innovation including some key projects under the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) on agriculture sciences.  As well we had good dialogues on training the next generation of innovators and researchers.   We talked to innovators and government representatives on the theme of innovation and the role of government in catalyzing innovation through initiatives and addressing global health challenges.

I also witnessed the signing of three agreements. An audiovisual co-production agreement that will enable Canadian and India producers to develop audiovisual co-production projects by combining their creative, technical and financial resources.  The other one was a programme of cooperation for India-Canada Grand Challenges Collaboration which formalizes existing partnerships between the organizations to develop a robust India-Canada Grand Challenges collaboration dedicated to saving and improving lives through innovation. And the third is a Memorandum of Understanding between The Association of Canadian Community Colleges and India’s National Skill Development Corporation.  The MOU will encourage the promotion of skills development in India.

A key theme for Sharon’s visit was entrepreneurship, with a special focus on the contributions of women and girls. She met with many women entrepreneur.  Sharon participated in a discussion with representatives from International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) current and past grantee organizations, researchers working in relevant fields, and women entrepreneurs to address the current challenges faced by and opportunities for women in India. She also met with women entrepreneurs, known as Mompreneurs, involved in SmartMomz.com. This interactive platform created by YourStory allows mothers and other women entrepreneurs to share their success stories and the challenges they face in trying to keep their employment after maternity leave. Whether for financial or social return on investment, these women are having an incredible impact on their communities.  They are showing the way for the development of their society through entrepreneurship.

Lastly, Sharon talked to representatives from an NGO that help female artisans and women from the most marginalized groups of society.  Through fair payment means, the NGO ensures that handiwork traditions are not lost.   It works with the silk artisans directly, eliminating the ‘middle men’, and helps them create designs that are contemporary while using traditional weaves.

 The objective of the visit is to “further develop the wide-ranging and multi-faceted relationship with India particularly in strategies promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and education”. Please explain.

Well as you can see from the different types of agreements that were signed, and some of the discussions we were able to put forward the promotion of innovation, entrepreneurship and education.  We held a round-table for example on furthering the collaboration between Canada and India for audio-visuals.  It not only stimulates foreign investment but it also creates new business as well as share the innovation.

The last Canadian Governor General to visit India was the Right Honourable Romeo Leblanc in 1998. Prime Minister Stephen Harper also made a state visit in November 2012.  Why is it important to have a closer relationship between Canada and India?

Canada and India have a longstanding bilateral relation build upon shared traditions of parliamentary democracy, pluralism and strong people-to-people ties with an India diaspora of more than 1.2 million in Canada.   Approximately 30,000 Indian students studied in Canada in 2012 making India the second largest source for Canada’s student population.  There are over 400 formal agreements between India and Canadian Institutions for student and faculty exchanges, including delivery of joint programs.  Canada has a lot of expertise to offer in Education.


You addressed the Grand Challenges Global Health Innovation Roundtable that is organized by the Grand Challenges Canada.

I was very impressed with the discussion that took place.  We learned of many innovative health research projects that will not only help rural India but will also help urban India.  I was so encouraged.  There is a lot of talent.

Her Excellency visited a number of NGO’s that directly work directly with children affected by HIV and also in the areas of women empowerment. Why are these initiatives important to you both and why should Canada continue to support them?

Sharon had the opportunity to visit the Sneha Care Home and Shining Star School, a support and care center for pre-adolescent children with HIV and children orphaned or abandoned as a result of HIV/AIDS in their families. She was blown away by its residential program, which provides nutrition, hygiene and support to some 120 children. The program offers children the proper tools to better integrate themselves into society when they reach adulthood. She received a warm welcome by the children and was amazed by their strength, courage and determination to live a normal life.  Through her visit, Sharon wanted to give the children hope and let them know that they are not alone.  Her message to them was to continue to support one another so that they can aspire to their dreams.

You were able to inaugurate the BIL-Ryerson DMZ India Ltd, an initiative of the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute, Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University. As an academic, why is such an initiative important to India and Canada?

Not only is the BIL-Ryerson DMZ an important initiative for India it is also an important project for Canada.  This new initiative will accelerate start-up growth and be a focal point to connect entrepreneurs with mentors, investors and other technology start-ups. I also had the privilege to visit the Ryerson DMZ in Toronto last year and I was very impressed with the innovative spirit.  You meet with some of the most innovative minds.  As a former university president, I truly believe that we must create opportunities for small and great ideas to flourish.  This type of initiative is a springboard for new ideas.

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Set Career Goals

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

By Nadia Chowdhury

Toronto

 At a very young age, many individuals dream of incorporating their passion, goals and beliefs into a viable career.  Just like these individuals, Abira Rajalingam’s journey and interest in becoming a public servant started at the tender age of 4 when she first arrived in Canada. Abira fondly remembers the kindness and thoughtfulness that Canadian officials showed her and her family in terms of thoroughly explaining the immigration process to them and assisting them in settling into this new country by providing them with multiple programs and services.  That is why Abira is committed to give back-especially in the area of immigration, citizenship and public administration.

 Abira Rajalingam shared her thoughts with Generation Next’s Nadia Chowdhury:

 1)      Please tell us a bit about yourself.

 I completed my Bachelors of Arts degree from York University and majored in Political Science and minored in History. Currently, I am pursuing my Masters degree in Public services, while working at the Region of Peel as an Assistant Technical Analyst, researching, planning, promoting and educating citizens in the Region of Peel about Public Works program such as water and wastewater treatment and water efficiency. I have also been involved in several extracurricular activities such as volunteering as a Teaching Assistant and Activity Coordinator at a local public school, where I developed and implemented new social programs for children, led community projects, monitored budgets, conducted community information sessions, while preparing classroom displays and bulletins.

 2) How has the field of public policy and administration changed over the years, in your opinion?

 The internet and social media is increasingly utilized as a tool for public educational and awareness purposes. Several federal agencies in Canada utilize Facebook and Twitter to improve service delivery and distribute information about services and programs to Canadians. For instance, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) utilized Twitter to inform and educate immigrants about upcoming employment opportunities. This method of communication is beneficial for two reasons. The first being cost effective and the second being efficient service.

The Public policy and administration field has become more “citizen focused”; the Canadian federal government has put forth more effort in consulting and collaborating with citizens and delivers services through their preferred method of choice.

There is effective partnership between governmental departments and private enterprise to implement and carry out effective services to Canadian citizens at a lower cost to the Canadian government through PPP (triple P).

 3) As a woman of color in Canada, how do you find accessing employment and work in the public service field? How involved and accessible is this field to young people of color in today’s Canada?

Since 2001 the accessibility of employment opportunities for women of colour within the public service field has definitely become much easier.  The Canadian Human Rights Commission in contrast conducts compliance audits of federal departments, crown corporations and businesses regulated by the federal government.[1] With these regulations in place, we can defiantly see that accessibility of employment opportunities for young people of colour especially women has gotten better and easier over the past few decades and would continue to get better.

 4) What advice do you have for those aspiring to study policy and administration in the future?

 The first thing that I would advise students to do is to set career goals and objectives by doing a lot of research. Public policy is a broad field and students would not necessarily be able to learn everything about the field. By choosing a specialization in one specific area of the field, they would become expects on that subject matter, enhancing Canada’s policies and meeting the needs of Canadians.

 Students should also look into the degree and specialization programs that are offered by post secondary institutions along with internship and co-op opportunities. Co-op opportunities are beneficial for two reasons. The first reason being that it gives students an opportunity to get an idea of the nature of work they would be performing in the near future. The second reason being experience, employers in most instances hire individuals based on experience and through co-op opportunities students are able to gain the experience required and many other skills sets that are essential for public servants.

 I would also strongly encourage students to volunteer with different organizations and NGOs. The experience they gain from this is valuable as they will being serving the public, while getting a better understanding of public service and the nature of work that the public servants perform on a daily basis.

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Why the Afghanistan Mission Was Worth It

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

As the Canadian military training mission wrapped up in Kabul this month, so began the media’s theme of assessing the results of Canadian soldiers’ time on the ground, unleashing the meme, was it worth it?

One of the problems with the ‘was it worth it’ question is that we typically ask it from the standpoint of Canada’s self-interest. From this perspective, yes, we expended blood and treasure in Afghanistan. It’s true that the numbers of dead are incomparable to other conflicts that Canada participated in, like the Korean War or World War II, but many families who lost sons and daughters in that country on the other side of the world, their pain is ineffable, understood only among those who have lost a child to war.

And our spending in this tumultuous place, where the risks are great and the rewards assailable, was indeed costly, an investment in one country in need, amidst many equally compelling cases — Haiti, Congo, and now, Syria, among many others. But if the mission was to help Afghanistan, to get a country brought to its knees back on its feet again, then it’s difficult to dispute the evidence that Afghanistan is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was in 2001.

Wherever your views stand on Canada’s participation in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, the available evidence shows that without a doubt, life for most Afghans is dramatically better today than it was under Taliban rule — a period that lasted for eight years in Kandahar (1994-2001), seven years in Herat (1995-2001), six years in Kabul (1996-2001), and four years in Mazar-i-sharif (1998-2001).

Those periods mark one of the darkest, most shameful times in modern history: a period in which millions of people were ruled by a group of murderous, illiterate thugs who terrorized civilians, banned music, burned books, stoned people to death, rendered women the equivalent of cattle, and stole the childhoods of millions of children by shutting down a healthcare system that had depended on women, who were banned from working, causing infant and child mortality to plummet to where it had sat decades earlier.

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Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan formally ends

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

Understated ceremony held under heavy guard at NATO headquarters in Kabul

Canadian troops capped a deadly and dangerous 12-year mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday, hauling down the Canadian flag at NATO headquarters in Kabul during a ceremony that was held under heavy guard.

“We were quite explicitly told today in Kabul that we could not even report on this ceremony until after it was done because of security concerns,” CBC correspondent Paul Hunter said from Kabul on Wednesday.

“After all this time, they are still worried about security here in Kabul, and I’ll tell you, the streets are filled with checkpoints and barbed wire and giant concrete blocks.”

The ceremony, held under sunny skies, ended with Canadians involved in the NATO training mission leaving aboard a U.S. Chinook helicopter. The remaining Canadian personnel will leave by the end of the week.

Still, Canadian and allied dignitaries praised the country’s involvement and sacrifices.

“Your strength has protected the weak; your bravery has brought hope to hopeless; and the helping hand you have extended to the Afghan people has given them faith that a better future is within their grasp,” Deborah Lyons, the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan told an assembly of the last 100 soldiers who served on a three-year training mission.

The war cost the lives of 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors.

“We can wish that the families of the fallen do not lament their fate, but we know that this is not the case. The only small comfort comes from the knowledge that the sacrifices of lost loved ones has been worthwhile, that they made a difference, and that their grief is shared by a grateful nation.

“It is said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. Your actions and those of your fallen colleagues have stopped the triumph of evil.”

Canadian commandos, hunting al-Qaeda, were the first troops to hit the ground in late 2001 and they were followed by as many as 40,000 more rotating through different campaigns, including the five-year combat mission in Kandahar.

Hunter reported that despite rampant violence, high levels of corruption and a strong drug trade, officials feel Afghanistan is a much different place from what it was in 2001, with a much stronger Afghan army.

British Lt.-Gen. John Lorimer, the deputy commander of NATO in Afghanistan, said the Canadians “repeatedly proved their courage and capability” alongside coalition and Afghan troops, especially in Kandahar “where you not only fought hard, but you fought smart.”

‘Mixed emotions’

Calling it the end of a significant era, Lorimer said he viewed the departure of the Canadians with “mixed emotions” given the shared experiences of the last 12 years.

“I am sad to see you return home, yet grateful for the opportunity to have served alongside such great Canadian leaders along the way,” he said.

The last Canadian commander, Maj.-Gen. Dean Milner, said the progress made is not irreversible and the West needs to continue nurturing both military and civilian institutions.

Milner told CBC News Network that the country is on the right track with security forces that will ably handle the country’s upcoming elections.

“It’s a capable Afghan national army and police force that’s getting ready and absolutely capable of dominating a resilient Taliban force,” he said.

Lyons said Canada will remain engaged in Afghanistan and the focus will be on helping build the ruined nation’s economy, particularly in the resource sector.

Similar flag ceremonies were planned for today in Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

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Enbridge Gas Price Hike Could See Customers Paying 40% More

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

The harsh reality of this winter’s exceptionally cold weather is catching up to millions of natural-gas users in central Canada.

The natural-gas company Enbridge has applied to Ontario regulators for a nearly 40 per cent hike in the energy rates it charges customers, just one month after predicting that its massive storage capacity should mute any price increase.

But it has been so cold, for such an extended period, that the utility says it was forced to buy more natural gas — at a much higher cost — than expected.

“For a customer that does burn 3,000 cubic metres of gas a year, the increase for them is going to be in the order of $400,” said Enbridge energy supply and policy director Jamie LeBlanc.

Normally, such a household would typically pay roughly $1,000 annually for natural gas.

If approved by the Ontario Energy Board, the rate increase would take effect April 1.

But once taxes are added, the price increase is closer to 50 per cent, says former Liberal MP and energy-market watcher Dan McTeague, who advocates capping taxes on home-heating fuels.

“My estimate is that, within a year … the federal government will have probably pocketed an additional half billion dollars from the misery of Canadians trying to keep themselves warm,” he said.

“And that to me is outrageous.”

Other natural-gas suppliers are expected to also apply for rate increases as they are forced to buy more expensive energy supplies on the open market.

Households heating with propane and oil have already experienced a price shock.

Propane customers in eastern Ontario and western Quebec saw their home heating bills nearly double in January and February compared with what they were paying in November.

Even those with fixed-price contracts have seen their bills go up because they’ve been using more energy.

Natural-gas prices in Ontario are set every three months, and Enbridge said it doesn’t expect prices to remain high.

“We don’t believe that this is a long-term natural gas event,” said LeBlanc.

“A typical winter we wouldn’t see this type of pricing.”

But that’s cold comfort for people on fixed incomes, such as seniors, who have had to absorb the energy price increases by spending less on other necessities including food, as well as cutting back on non-essential purchases.

“People are suffering,” said McTeague.

Enbridge and other utilities have energy assistance programs available for low-income households, as well as payment plans to spread out the cost of heating over a longer period of time.

They also offer tips for conserving energy by turning down thermostats, reducing hot water use and, as a longer-term solution, retrofitting homes for better efficiency.

Earlier this week, a preliminary report to the ministers of natural resources and industry predicted that a propane shortage that hit Ontario and Quebec would continue until temperatures warm up.

“Given current production, storage, transportation and export trends, tight supply and high prices are expected to continue for the remainder of the high-demand winter season,” said the report made public Tuesday.

“Consumers of propane, including households that cannot easily switch to other fuels, will continue to be significantly impacted.”

The federal government asked the National Energy Board and Competition Bureau to review the propane market after supplies dried up and prices skyrocketed.

The report said there were four main factors for the shortage — a colder-than-normal winter across eastern Canada and the U.S., exceptional use of propane to dry wet crops in the U.S. midwest, and already-low inventory before the peak winter season and “rapidly growing” U.S. propane exports to overseas markets.

But it offered no recommendations on how to mitigate shortages and energy price shocks in the future.

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Nepalese Community Organized International Women’s Day Program in Toronto

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

Uttam Makaju

Toronto

“Equality for women is progress for all” is the theme set by United Nations to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014.

 Nepalese Canadian Women’s Association (NCWA), a Toronto based  non profit organization, recently organized   a program in Toronto. Addressing the program, chief guest Member of Parliament Corneliu Chisu, (Pickering- Scarborough East) expressed his happiness and thanked Nepalese community for organizing the important event International Women’s Day.

He also read out  and handed over he message sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Nepalese Canadian Women’s Association’s President Ms. Sushila Bhandari spoke about the need of celebrating International Women’s Day.  Host of other speakers shed light on the plight of women.  The program was marked with poem recital, song and dance on women.

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Sharif-Kahn on the same page on talks with Taliban

Posted on 19 March 2014 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

    Pakistan’s official circles continue to optimistic that the talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban-i-Pakistan is going to succeed and that the Taliban Tehrik will start working within the framework of Pakistani constitution. Two members of the Taliban Committee, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq and Maulana Mohammad Ibrahim are suggesting that the Taliban Tehrik comprises of gentle people who are willing to join hands with the government for peace and stability.  However, neither the federal government nor the Taliban Committee is providing any concrete evidence of their optimism.

    The violent incidents in Peshawar and Quetta on March 14 have been brushed aside by the Taliban Committee as being done by the enemies of peace talks.

   The federal government seems to share this view because any other perspective on violent incidents threatens the prospects of talks.

    Another perspective being advocated in Pakistan now-ad-days is that the federal government should talks to the groups that want to talk and fight those that do not want to talks. However, no one is telling the names of the Taliban groups that want to talk or those that want to fight with the government and throw bomb on the police, Frontier Corps personnel or ordinary citizens.

   If we go by the narrative of official circles peace with the Taliban will be achieved within a few weeks and the credit for such an achievement will go either to Nawaz Sharif and the Taliban Tehrik.

    We will have to wait and see if all that is being propagated by official and pro-Taliban elements in Pakistan will materialize. However, when one leaves aside emotions and peels off the propaganda, there is no sold evidence to demonstrate that peace with the militants is at hand or Pakistan is about to enter an era of internal peace and stability.

    Nawaz Sharif has taken an immense political risk by getting so directly involved in the peace process whose chances of success are minimum.  He called on Imran Khan at his home to mobilize his support for the talks with the Taliban.  As Imran Khan already maintains a sympathetic attitude towards the Taliban, he agreed to support Nawaz Sharif on the talks.

    Nawaz Sharif has set up a new committee for direct talks with the Taliban but the Taliban have not so far changed their committee; they have not indicated anything definite for direct talks with the government.

   The new government committee consists of three serving and one retired bureaucrat. It is surprising that the bureaucrats have been selected for political negotiations rather than political leaders of reputation. The three serving bureaucrats do not have any experience of political negotiations. However, these are trusted people of Nawaz Sharif. The retired bureaucrat is the nominee of Imran Khan.

   The Taliban Committee has already visited North Waziristan and talked to the Taliban leadership. This means that the federal government and military knows the location of the Taliban Tehrik. The government’s new committee and the Taliban’s existing committee are expected to meet soon to agree to the future arrangements with the Talks.

   The Taliban have put forward four demands: release of its prisoners, compensation for the losses suffered due to the action taken by the state’s security forces, withdrawal of the Army from the tribal areas, and the exit of the army or paramilitary from the area where the government committee and the Taliban would hold talks.

     From the government side, no conditions have been set out recently. Initially, the federal government had emphasized the respect for the state of Pakistan and supremacy of its constitution as pre-conditions for the talks. Now, the government is not insisting on these conditions because it wants the talks to start.  However, Nawaz Sharif said on March 13 that nothing beyond the constitution would be acceptable.

   The Taliban Tehrik, the federal government and Imran Khan agree on avoiding any military action against the Taliban. Therefore, they are keen for some political settlement. All violent incidents are described by them as the tricks by the unknown opponents of the talks.

     The keenness of Nawaz Sharif for a political settlement with the Taliban Tehrik is the  result of his fear of both the Taliban and the military.  His fear of the Taliban is based on the assumption that any continuation of confrontation with the Taliban can result in violent incidents like suicide bombings and road-side bombings in the Punjab which is his party’s strong-base. This will cause embarrassment to his government.  He is afraid of the military because he thinks that if the Army is given a go ahead for military action, the political initiative will shift to the Army and his hold over political power will be weakened. He will be left with no choice but to support military action.

    The Taliban Tehrik is willing to extend the ceasefire beyond one month in order to protect itself from any possible military action. However, only extension of ceasefire will not be enough. The government and the Taliban Tehrik will have to show that their talks are producing positive results. The Taliban will not be able to drag talks and extend ceasefire to let the summer pass without military action against them.

      The Army has decided in principle to take a firm and targeted military action against the Taliban and other groups in the tribal areas, especially in North Waziristan, in the summer —from mid-April to September. They have also strengthened their position in and around North Waziristan to check the running away of militants to other agencies. However, the Taliban and others can still slip across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

     Nawaz Sharif’s political career once again faces a risk. If the talks with the Taliban do not quickly produce results and he refuses to let the Army take action in North Waziristan, his relations with the military can run into trouble. This may not be a repeat of 1999 but his difficulties will increase as the Army has many options to it to build pressure on Nawaz Sharif.

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