US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton is suggesting that Pakistan’s government has squandered chances to kill or capture al-Qaida leaders.
She made the remark in an interview yesterday with Pakistani journalists during a trip to the city of Lahore. She later flew to the capital, Islamabad, for talks with army chief and additional meetings.
Clinton said al-Qaida has used Pakistan as a haven since 2002. She said she finds it hard to believe that nobody in Pakistan’s government knows where the leaders of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network are hiding.
She also said she finds it hard to believe that Pakistani authorities couldn’t “get them” if they wanted to.
Clinton said that Pakistan had little choice but to take a more aggressive approach to combating the Pakistani Taliban and other insurgents that threaten to destabilize the country.
With the country reeling from Wednesday’s devastating bombing that killed at least 105 people in Peshawar, Clinton engaged in an intense give-and-take with students at the Government College of Lahore, insisting that inaction by the government would have ceded ground to terrorists.
“If you want to see your territory shrink, that’s your choice,” she said, adding that she believed it would be a bad choice.
Dozens of students rushed to line up for the microphone when the session began. Their questions were not hostile, but showed a strong sense of doubt that the U.S. can be a reliable and trusted partner for Pakistan.
Clinton met with the students on the second day of a three-day visit to Pakistan, her first as secretary of state. The Peshawar bombing, set off in a market crowded with women and children, appeared timed to overshadow her arrival. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since 2007.
Clinton likened Pakistan’s situation — with Taliban forces taking over substantial swaths of land in the Swat valley and in areas along the Afghan border — to a theoretical advance of terrorists into the United States from across the Canadian border.
It would be unthinkable, she said, for the U.S. government to decide, “Let them have Washington (state)” first, then Montana, then the sparsely populated Dakotas, because those states are far from the major centers of population and power on the East Coast.
Clinton was responding to a student who suggested that Washington was forcing Pakistan to use military force on its own territory. It was one of several questions from the students that raised doubts about the relationship between the United States and Pakistan.
During her hour-long appearance at the college, Clinton stressed that a key purpose of her three-day visit to Pakistan, which began Wednesday, was to reach out to ordinary Pakistanis and urge a better effort to bridge differences and improve mutual understanding.
“We are now at a point where we can chart a different course,” she said, referring to past differences over an absence of democracy in Pakistan and Pakistani association with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
As a way of repudiating past U.S. policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students “there is a huge difference” between the Obama administration’s approach and that of former President George W. Bush.
“I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him,” she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students. “So, to me, it’s like daylight and dark.”
Although Clinton said she was making a priority of engaging frankly and openly on her visit, she declined to talk about a subject that has stirred some of the strongest feelings of anti-Americanism here — U.S. drone aircraft attacks against extremist targets on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border.
The Obama administration routinely refuses to acknowledge publicly that the attacks are taking place.
“There is a war going on,” she said, and the U.S. wants to help Pakistan be successful.
The drone attacks have killed a number of Pakistani civilians, while also reportedly succeeding in eliminating some high-level Taliban and other extremist group leaders.
At the same time, though, the U.S. has been providing Pakistani commanders with video images and target information from its military drones as Pakistan’s army pushes its ground offensive in Waziristan, U.S. officials said earlier this week.
Also sensitive is the way the U.S. has handled millions of dollars in aid to the Pakistani military. The U.S. in recent months has rushed helicopters and other military equipment to the country as Islamabad has launched its counterinsurgency offensives in Swat Valley and South Waziristan.
The administration sped the delivery of 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters starting in June, and in July sent 200 night vision goggles, nearly more than 9,000 sets of body armor, several hundred radios and other equipment.
“We’ve put military assistance to Pakistan on a wartime footing,” Lt. Col. Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “We are doing everything within our power to assist Pakistan in improving its counterinsurgency capability.”
This year the Pentagon plans to spend more than $500 million on arms and equipment for Islamabad as well as training Pakistan’s military in counterinsurgency tactics. Still, Pakistani officials last month complained that Congress attached too many conditions to the surge in aid.
Before flying to Lahore from Islamabad, Clinton visited the Bari Imam shrine, named after Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, a 17th century Sufi saint who died in 1705 and later came to be known as the patron saint of Islamabad. A suicide bomber struck the shrine in May 2005, killing a number of people.
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
Group Urges Buhari To Inaugurate NDDC Board
Following the delay in the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) substantive board, the Ijaw Interest Advocates (IIA) has again asked President Muhammadu Buhari to take charge, absolve himself from the minister’s delay tactics and inaugurate the NDDC Governing Board.
In a statement, President of IIA, also known as Izanzan Intellectual Camp, Amb. Salaco Yerinmene, told Buhari to immediately inaugurate the NDDC substantive board to avert the looming crisis in the region.
According to him, “for long, we have observed that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwin Akpabio’s tactics to perpetrate illegality in NDDC is for personal financial gains.”
The president of the group, Salaco, who said Akpabio has done more harm to NDDC than ever, accused Akpabio of toying with the commission, adding that Buhari should distance himself from his activities if he was not selective in the fight against corruption in the country.
The Ijaw advocates added: “Akpabio is only a supervisory minister and that does not mean he alone owns the commission. Major stakeholders, well-meaning leaders and people of the Niger Delta are supposed to be part of the NDDC but today Akpabio has sidelined them.”
The group queried what the minister is doing with the money that comes to NDDC because contractors are not paid as contractors have pulled out of site.
It would be recalled that the Association of Contractors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (ACNDDC), had last Thursday, embarked on a protest march at the premises of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja, and decried the ongoing mismanagement of monthly funds accruing to the commission, and appealed to the Federal Government to pay outstanding debts it owes NDDC contractors.
Salaco regretted that “the commission has been largely engaged with internal matters and has been redundant since Akpabio took over two years ago and one will expect that so many saving would have been made but empty treasury is the reality.”
The group, however, warned that “some key stakeholders who have been involved selflessly and silently in making efforts for peace in the region are almost giving up gradually on their peaceful roles mainly because of lack of sincerity from the Presidency. Well-meaning Niger Delta persons, groups, traditional and government authorities have made inputs by advising the President to ignore Akpabio and do the right thing.”
Salaco regretted that “the multi-national companies are now suffering silently, they have been exposed to confront host communities on their own. Nigeria as a major oil producing nation cannot meet up their OPEC production quota just because of some selfish individuals who want to line up their pockets with funds meant to sustain peace and development of a sensitive region like the Niger Delta.”
Izanzan Intellectual Camp, therefore, advised that “President Buhari should not take the role of stakeholders, mostly the various ethnic nationality representatives who are silently maintaining peace in the Niger Delta region for granted. It is in the best interest of the government led by President Buhari to Ignore Akpabio, and do the bidding of the people for peace, development and progress of the region especially now that the unrest deliberately fuelled by Akpabio is yet to explode.”
It would be recalled that Buhari had promised the nation on June 24, 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the State House in Abuja, that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted.
The president said: ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedevilled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
However, the forensic audit report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari since September 2, 2021, prompting the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to caution that “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC Board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on Ijaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
Police Nab Three Dowen College Students Over Sylvester’s Death
The Lagos State Police Command, yesterday, arrested three students of Dowen College in connection to the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.
Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, also confirmed that three out of the five students were already in custody, while two were currently at large.
This is as one week after the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior; the Parents’ Forum of the school has demanded justice and also a change in the school management.
It would be recalled that late Sylvester Oromoni had mentioned five senior students allegedly responsible for the injuries he sustained when he was attacked at the Dowen College.
Sylvester was allegedly attacked by senior students of Dowen College, where he reportedly sustained internal injuries that resulted in his demise.
Over 100,000 had signed petitions to prosecute the perpetrators of the sad incident.
The Lagos State Government has since shut down the school, while the police have also commenced investigation into the matter.
However, one week after the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Junior, the Parents’ Forum of the school has demanded justice and also a change in the school management.
The parents also demanded a change in hostel teachers and the installation of CCT cameras in the school.
The decisions were reached at an online meeting. In strong words against the death of the 12- year -old student, the parents said justice for Sylvester is justice for all and insisted that those involved should be brought to book.
A statement, yesterday, signed on behalf of the parents’ forum by Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, Waheed Adeoye, Oluwaseun Bolanle Ajila and Kingsley Kema Agu, reads: “This will not only bring this unfortunate incident to a closure for the family but will also serve as a deterrent to other juvenile delinquents in all schools in Nigeria.”
The parents demanded a change of school management team, hostel teachers, installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in all strategic places and overhaul of the school security system.
They decried the incident, and urged the school management team and other stakeholders to cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation into the death of Sylvester.
The parents’ forum agreed to organise candlelight on today, at Dowen College, adding “the lighting of candles is to pay tribute to a life ‘passed’, and keeping the light burning signifies that the memory still lives on and burns bright.
“Dowen College parents are startled and deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident that led to the death of Sylvester Oromoni. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased and pray to God to give them the strength to bear the irreparable loss.
“As parents of Dowen College students, we are still in shock and could not come to terms with this incident and the accounts so far provided by the school management, students and the media.
“We are, however, temporarily relieved by the swiftness with which the authorities intervened and commenced investigation towards unravelling the cause of Sylvester Oromoni’s death.
“We urge the school management team and other stakeholders to fully cooperate with the authority in the ongoing investigation. While we would have loved to bring Sylvester back, if humanly possible, unravelling the cause of his death and bringing whoever was responsible or might have contributed in whatever way to book, will not only bring this unfortunate incident to closure for the family but will also serve as a deterrent to other juvenile delinquents in all schools in Nigeria.
“On our part as parents, we will work more closely with the school (management/board) to ensure that necessary measures are put in place to prevent recurrence of this unfortunate incident and stamp out bullying in any form from the school.
“We will also continue to appeal to parents, through all available means, to show more interest in what their children do and who they associate with in school and at home.
“We appeal to the public to see this incident as an inflexion point, not only for Dowen College but also other schools in Nigeria, as recent events have shown that bullying, molestation and other vices among students are common in our schools.
“Therefore, we rely on the authorities for justice regardless of the social status of whoever is involved.
“What happened to Sylvester could have happened to any other child in the school. To many of the traumatised students, Sylvester was a classmate, a roommate, a schoolmate or a friend.
“We, therefore, earnestly ask for a resolution that will bring some relief to the bereaved family, other parents, students of Dowen College and the public. These should include a change of the school management and hostel teachers, installation of Closed Circuit Television cameras in all strategic places and overhauling of the school security system.
Business1 day ago
NEPC Blames Zero Export From North-East On Insurgency
Business1 day ago
Dealers Accuse SON Of Encouraging Production Of Substandard Steel Products
Business1 day ago
Nigeria’s Imports Rise To 8.2trn In Q3 – NBS
Business1 day ago
Investors Lose N598bn As Large-Cap Stocks Decline
News1 day ago
Total Energies, OML130 Partners Commission 11 CSR Projects
Business1 day ago
South-East Traders Petition CBN Over Illegal Bank Deductions
Front Pix1 day ago
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
Business1 day ago
Rising Food Prices Fuelling Inflation In Nigeria, Others – IMF