Pakistan: On the road to ‘Fascistan’

By Dr Mohammad Taqi

If the rise in fascist tendencies were sporadic, the concern might have been a notch lower. However, the way religious zealots were unleashed over the last several weeks, in what appears an orchestrated move by a well-oiled machine, is alarmingly ominous

Read more » Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-May-2014/on-the-road-to-fascistan

Thomas Piketty’s Capital: everything you need to know about the surprise bestseller

The radical economist’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has angered the right with its powerful argument about wealth, democracy and why capitalism will always create inequality. Not read it yet? Here’s what it means

By The Guardian

That capitalism is unfair has been said before. But it is the way Thomas Piketty says it – subtly but with relentless logic – that has sent rightwing economics into a frenzy, both here and in the US.

His book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. Carrying it under your arm has, in certain latitudes of Manhattan, become the newest tool for making a social connection among young progressives. Meanwhile, he is beencondemned as neo-Marxist by rightwing commentators. So why the fuss?

Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth, inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth. So the fact that rich kids can swan aimlessly from gap year to internship to a job at father’s bank/ministry/TV network – while the poor kids sweat into their barista uniforms – is not an accident: it is the system working normally.

If you get slow growth alongside better financial returns, then inherited wealth will, on average, “dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin”, says Piketty. Wealth will concentrate to levels incompatible with democracy, let alone social justice. Capitalism, in short, automatically creates levels of inequality that are unsustainable. The rising wealth of the 1% is neither a blip, nor rhetoric.

To understand why the mainstream finds this proposition so annoying, you have to understand that “distribution” – the polite name for inequality – was thought to be a closed subject. Simon Kuznets, the Belarussian émigré who became a major figure in American economics, used the available data to show that, while societies become more unequal in the first stages of industrialisation, inequality subsides as they achieve maturity. This “Kuznets Curve” had been accepted by most parts of the economics profession until Piketty and his collaborators produced the evidence that it is false.

In fact, the curve goes in exactly the opposite direction: capitalism started out unequal, flattened inequality for much of the 20th century, but is now headed back towards Dickensian levels of inequality worldwide.

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Pakistan Army Demands Broadcaster’s Closure

Military Lashes Out Against Geo News After TV Channel Airs Accusations Against Spy Agency

By Saeed Shah

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s military demanded that the government close down the country’s top-rated TV channel after it aired accusations that the spy agency was behind the shooting of its leading talk-show host.

The demand stems from remarks made by relatives of journalist Hamid Mir that were broadcast by Geo News on Saturday after he was shot six times in the southern city of Karachi.

They blamed the attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, or ISI, and its chief, Lt. Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam, who they say singled out Mr. Mir for his reports of the spy agency’s role in the country’s politics.

Read more » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702303825604579517903002721352-lMyQjAxMTA0MDIwMjEyNDIyWj

The New York Times – A Return to a World Marx Would Have Known

Doug Henwood is editor of Left Business Observer, host of a weekly radio show originating on KPFA, Berkeley, and is author of several books, including “Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom” and “After the New Economy.”

I don’t see how you can understand our current unhappy economic state without some sort of Marx-inspired analysis.

Here we are, almost five years into an officially designated recovery from the worst downturn in 80 years, and average household incomes are more than 8 percent below where they were when the Great Recession began, and employment still 650,000 short of its pre-recession high.

Though elites are prospering, for millions of Americans, it’s as if the recession never ended.

How can this all be explained? The best way to start is by going back to the 1970s. Corporate profitability — which, as every Marxist schoolchild knows, is the motor of the system — had fallen sharply off its mid-1960s highs. Stock and bond markets were performing miserably. Inflation seemed to be rising without limit. After three decades of seemingly endless prosperity, workers had developed a terrible attitude problem, slacking off and, quaintly, even going out on strike. It’s no accident that Johnny Paycheck scored a No. 1 country hit with “Take This Job and Shove It” in 1977 — utterly impossible to imagine today.

This is where Marx begins to come in. At the root of these problems was a breakdown in class relations: workers no longer feared the boss. A crackdown was in order.

And it came, hard. In October 1979, the Federal Reserve began driving interest rates toward 20 percent, to kill inflation and restrict borrowing, creating the deepest recession since the 1930s. (It was a record we only broke in 2008/2009). A little over a year later, Ronald Reagan came into office, fired the striking air-traffic controllers, setting the stage for decades of union busting to follow. Five years after Johnny Paycheck’s hit, workers were desperate to hold and/or get jobs. No more attitude problem.

The “cure” worked for about 30 years. Corporate profits skyrocketed and financial markets thrived. The underlying mechanism, as Marx would explain it, is simple: workers produce more in value than they are paid, and the difference is the root of profit. If worker productivity rises while pay remains stagnant or declines, profits increase. This is precisely what has happened over the last 30 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity rose 93 percent between 1980 and 2013, while pay rose 38 percent (all inflation-adjusted).

The 1 percent got ever-richer and more powerful. But there was a problem: a system dependent on high levels of mass consumption has a hard time coping with the stagnation or decline in mass incomes.The development of a mass consumer market after Marx died, with the eager participation of a growing middle class, caused a lot of people to say his analysis was obsolete. But now, with the hollowing out of the middle class and the erosion of mass purchasing power, the whole 20th century model of mass consumption is starting to look obsolete.

Borrowing sustained the mass consumption model for a few decades. Non-rich households borrowed to buy cars, buy food, pay medical bills, buy ever-more-expensive houses, and so on. Conveniently, rich households had plenty of spare cash to lend them.

That model broke apart in 2008 and has not — and cannot — be revived. Without the juice provided by spirited borrowing, demand remains constricted and growth rates, low. (See also: Europe.)

Raising the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of the population through higher wages and public spending initiatives — stifled since Reagan starting putting the squeeze on them — could change that. But the stockholding class has resisted that, and they have a lot of political power.

And an extraordinarily lopsided economy is the result. We didn’t expect that the 21st century would bring about a return of the 19th century’s vast disparities, but it’s looking like that’s just what’s happened.

Courtesy: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/30/was-marx-right/a-return-to-a-world-marx-would-have-known?smid=fb-share

Bill Maher’s excellent commentary on income inequality

by BruinKid

Last night, Bill Maher delivered an excellent final New Rule on how some of the 1% are whining about feeling persecuted.

Did you know that during World War II, FDR actually proposed a cap on income that in today’s dollars would mean that no person could ever take home more than about $300,000?  OK, that is a little low.  (audience laughter)  But wouldn’t it be great if there were Democrats out there like that now, who would say to billionaires, “Oh, you’re crying?  We’ll give you something to cry about.  You don’t want a minimum wage?  How about we not only have a minimum wage, we have a maximum wage?”  (audience applause)

That is not a new idea.  James Madison, who wrote our Constitution, said, “Government should prevent an immoderate accumulation of riches.”  Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, they all agreed that too much money in the hands of too few would destroy democracy.

Read more » DAILY KOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/01/1281312/-Bill-Maher-s-excellent-commentary-on-income-inequality

What’s holding Pakistan together?

By Ayaz Amir

Not Islam – this fiction was exploded in 1971, and continues to be exposed today in Balochistan. Far from being a uniting factor religion, and the uses to which it is being put, is proving to be the biggest divisive factor of all, Pakistanis killing each other in the name of sect and faith – a country created on the basis of religion floundering at the altar of religion, earnest Pakistanis forever engaged in the quest to discover what Allah’s commandments mean and what they do not.

Not democracy – which is proving to be a sham democracy, unable to sow the seeds of peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or lessen the anger of the aggrieved Baloch, or prove a boon to Karachi, or have any kind of relevance for the down and out, the economically disadvantaged, who constitute the vast majority of the Pakistani population.

Not a common sense of nationhood – because that is something we have not managed to create, indeed the concept of nationhood never more fractured than it is today, partly because the institutions of statehood have become so dysfunctional, partly because of the march of primitive Islam, as exemplified by the Taliban, which is testing the capacities of the Pakistani state, and leading thoughtful Pakistanis to brood about the country’s future.

Holding Pakistan together, and this is a sad admission, is what pseudo-leftists like myself had trained ourselves to demonise, and with good reason because of its long list of follies: the Pakistan Army. The army we blamed, and rightly so, for many of Pakistan’s problems – East Pakistan, the cult of militarisation, the overweening power of the ISI, the unholy intervention in Afghanistan, ‘jihad’ in Kashmir, creating the god of national security and placing it at the top of the Pakistani pantheon.

But the wheel has come full circle. New realities have emerged, new dangers have arisen. The luxury of adventurism as in Afghanistan or Kashmir has gone. Pakistan is under threat and its survival is at stake and holding the gates is just one force: not Pakistani patriotism, not Pakistani nationalism – weak concepts yet to be given the shape of stone or iron – but the army.

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Sharif risks straining ties with military, warns US intelligence report

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may strain his relations with the new army chief if he continues to expand his policy-making powers, warns a US intelligence report.

The report, presented before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday, notes that Mr Sharif is seeking to “acquire a more central policy-making role” for civilians in areas that the Army has traditionally dominated.

“His push for an increased role in foreign policy and national security will probably test his relationship with the new Chief of Army Staff, particularly if the Army believes that the civilian government’s position impinges on Army interests” the report warns.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1084027

Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States

Hussain Haqqani

Hussain Haqqani

By Adnan Siddiqi

Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?

HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.

Read more » NewsWeek
http://mag.newsweek.com/2014/01/03/best-frenemies.html

Noam Chomsky: We’re no longer a functioning democracy, we’re really a plutocracy

By Travis Gettys

The world faces two potentially existential threats, according to the linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky.

“There are two major dark shadows that hover over everything, and they’re getting more and more serious,” Chomsky said. “The one is the continuing threat of nuclear war that has not ended. It’s very serious, and another is the crisis of ecological, environmental catastrophe, which is getting more and more serious.”

Chomsky appeared Friday on the last episode of NPR’s “Smiley and West” program to discuss his education, his views on current affairs and how he manages to spread his message without much help from the mainstream media.

He told the hosts that the world was racing toward an environmental disaster with potentially lethal consequence, which the world’s most developed nations were doing nothing to prevent – and in fact were speeding up the process.

“If there ever is future historians, they’re going to look back at this period of history with some astonishment,” Chomsky said. “The danger, the threat, is evident to anyone who has eyes open and pays attention at all to the scientific literature, and there are attempts to retard it, there are also at the other end attempts to accelerate the disaster, and if you look who’s involved it’s pretty shocking.”

Chomsky noted efforts to halt environmental damage by indigenous people in countries all over the world – from Canada’s First Nations to tribal people in Latin America and India to aboriginal people in Australia—but the nation’s richest, most advanced and most powerful countries, such as the United States, were doing nothing to forestall disaster.

“When people here talk enthusiastically about a hundred years of energy independence, what they’re saying is, ‘Let’s try to get every drop of fossil fuel out of the ground so as to accelerate the disaster that we’re racing towards,’” Chomsky said. “These are problems that overlie all of the domestic problems of oppression, of poverty, of attacks on the education system (and) massive inequality, huge unemployment.”

He blamed the “financialization” of the U.S. economy for income inequality and unemployment, saying that banks that were “too big to fail” skimmed enormous wealth from the market.

“In fact, there was a recent (International Monetary Fund) study that estimated that virtually all the profits of the big banks can be traced back to this government insurance policy, and in general they’re quite harmful, I think, quite harmful to the economy,” Chomsky said.

Those harmful effects can be easily observed by looking at unemployment numbers and stock market gains, he said.

“There are tens of millions of people unemployed, looking for work, wanting to work (and) there are huge resources available,” Chomsky said. “Corporate profits are going through the roof, there’s endless amounts of work to be done – just drive through a city and see all sorts of things that have to be done – infrastructure is collapsing, the schools have to be revived. We have a situation in which huge numbers of people want to work, there are plenty, huge resources available, an enormous amount to be done, and the system is so rotten they can’t put them together.”

The reason for this is simple, Chomsky said.

“There is plenty of profit being made by those who pretty much dominate and control the system,” he said. “We’ve moved from the days where there was some kind of functioning democracy. It’s by now really a plutocracy.”

Chomsky strongly disagreed with Smiley and West that he had been marginalized for his views, saying that he regretfully turned down dozens of invitations to speak on a daily basis because he was otherwise engaged.

He also disagreed that a platform in the mainstream media was necessary to influence the debate.

“If you take a look at the progressive changes that have taken place in the country, say, just in the last 50 years – the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, opposition to aggression, the women’s movement, the environmental movement and so on – they’re not led by any debate in the media,” Chomsky said. “No, they were led by popular organizations, by activists on the ground.”

He recalled the earliest days of the antiwar movement, in the early 1960s, when he spoke in living rooms and church basements to just a handful of other activists and they were harassed – even in liberal Boston – by the authorities and media.

But that movement eventually grew and helped hasten the end of the Vietnam War, and Chomsky said it’s grown and become so mainstream that antiwar activists can limit wars before they even begin.

He said President Ronald Reagan was unable to launch a full-scale war in Central America during the 1980s because of the antiwar movement, and he bitterly disputed the idea that antiwar activists had no impact on the Iraq War.

“I don’t agree; it had a big effect,” Chomsky said. “It sharply limited the means that were available to the government to try to carry out the invasion and subdue the population. In fact, it’s one reason why the U.S. ended up really defeated in Iraq, seriously had to give up all of its war aims. The major victor in Iraq turns out to be Iran.”

Despite these limitations, he said the Iraq War had been one of the new millennium’s worst atrocities and had provoked a violent schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that had sparked regional conflicts throughout the Middle East.

“The United States is now involved in a global terror campaign largely against the tribal people of the world, mostly Muslim tribes, and it’s all over. The intention is to go on and on,” Chomsky said. “These are all terrible consequences, but nevertheless they’re not as bad as they would be if there weren’t public opposition.”

Courtesy: The Raw Story
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/27/noam-chomsky-were-no-longer-a-functioning-democracy-were-really-a-plutocracy/

‘Magnificent Delusions’ of US-Pakistan relations

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Even as an ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was one of the most eloquent critics of Pakistan’s military, the country’s most powerful institution.

Haqqani, once derided at home as Washington’s ambassador to Pakistan for his pro-Western views, has taken a step further, accusing the government of directly supporting militant groups in his latest book “Magnificent Delusions”.

Now a professor of international relations at Boston University, he was ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, a turbulent time in US-Pakistan relations that culminated in a raid by US special forces in May 2011 that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani resigned in November 2011 and left Pakistan after becoming involved in a scandal surrounding a secret memo that accused the army of plotting a coup and sought help from the United States to rein in the military.

Haqqani, who has denied any connection to the memo, spoke to Reuters by telephone from the United States about his book and his views on US-Pakistan relations.

Q: Why do you believe Pakistan supports militant groups?

A: As far as terrorism is concerned, Pakistan was the conduit of weapons and training for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. After that, Pakistan switched it to India, especially in Kashmir. And that is the point at which the United States said “You are engaging in terrorism”. The Pakistani response was “But we started it together”.

The problem is that the “pro-jihadi” narrative has become so mainstream that it is very difficult for any government to … put all fighters out of business. But Pakistan would not find peace without putting all of them out of business.

Q: Why is this happening now?

A: The whole idea of building a nation around religious nationalism has backfired. What has happened is that religious nationalism has only produced extremism. If Pakistan were to be an Islamic state, the question arises “What kind of Islamic state?” We are now in a virtual civil war between various sects and militias attached to these sects who don’t tolerate each other.

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Time to change course

By Najam Sethi

Excerpt: … General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years. The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.

It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.

Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.

- See more at: http://www.najamsethi.com/time-to-change-course/#sthash.5kCkjdPc.8J2Km32a.dpuf

Pak state rapidly withering away

Nadeem F ParachaBy Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Pakistan military has performed better as a rented entity in other countries than it has as a national army in Pakistan

‘The state in Pakistan is reflecting the fragmentary nature of Pakistan’s society and polity,’ says Nadeem Farooq Paracha.

Born in Karachi, Nadeem Farooq Paracha is a leading cultural critic, political analyst, and a columnist. In the 1980s, he was active in student politics at college with Peoples Students Federation (PSF). Twice, he was arrested under the Zia dictatorship. For ten years he worked with the Jang Group (first with Weekly Mag and then with The News between 1990 and 2000). Currently he is doing regular columns for the DAWN, Dawn.com, The Pioneer and Indian Express. In an interview with Viewpoint, he discusses the character of Pakistani state. Read on:

Ayesha Siddiqa in her book Military Inc (2007) describes Pakistan as a Praetorian state. In his recently published Pakistan: The Garrison State (2013) Ishtiaq Ahmed describes Pakistan as a ‘Garrison state’. Pakistan is also described as the ‘National security state’ in journalistic narratives. How would you characterize the Pakistani state?

I wonder if Pakistan really has any kind of a state left anymore. Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned expressions like Praetorian, Garrison and National Security State are basically mediations on a similar concept. By and large, Ayesha and Ishtiaq Ahmed are talking about the same thing. I’d say Pakistan is a National Security state. Same thing.

Do you think Pakistan can also be described as a Rentier state? After all, it has been renting out military services to Gulf sheikhdoms. Post-9/11, it has rented out military facilities to the USA True, the rent is not on regular basis as stipulated by Hossein Mahdavy who propounded the theory. However, Pakistan has largely been under an autocratic rule. Your comments.

I think any state with a large and, if I may, an entrepreneurial military would have a prominent rentier side to it as well. And ironically, the Pakistan military has performed better as a rented entity in other countries than it has as a national army in Pakistan.

Do you think the Marxist notion of state as a particular expression of class formation instead of a “thing” or collection of individual social actors is relevant?

As a self-proclaimed Marxist during my student years, I was never comfortable with this concept.

To me this idea is too abstract. I’ve never been able to relate to it on an intellectual nor on an instinctive level. I think the whole concept of individuality finally managed to overpower at least this Marxian idea of the state in me, especially considering the fact I live in a country where religious sectarianism and ethnic nationalism have submerged the whole concept of class as being secondary.

Khaled Ahmed in his booklet Pakistan and Nature of State: Revisionism, Jihad and Governance (2009) claims: that unlike other states that have three mutually balancing centres of power i.e. the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, Pakistan has six ‘existential’ pillars of the state: ‘Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Army plus Establishment, Media, and Jihadi Organisations’. Do you think Pakistan is an exception to rule?

Ahmed is correct. The state in Pakistan is reflecting the fragmentary nature of Pakistan’s society and polity. One can say that all six pillars usually feed off each other, but not always. And when this happens you get a situation like the one we are in these days.

This is certainly exceptional and exactly the reason why policy formation through a consensus is so tough in this country and also why most political scientists of the world have struggled to fully understand the political dynamics of Pakistan.

We have states within a state so much so that the conventional idea of having a state has rapidly withered away.

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Pakistan: A rentier state

Pakistan is a praetorian state which allows the military to partner with various other elite groups. They may contest each other on the basis of who will play the lead role or if the share of one of the elite group is threatened by the other

Pakistan is what you can call a fragile ‘limited access state’ where elite are unable to set rules for mutually beneficial rent-seeking. This creates problems and increases conflict, says Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa.

Read more » View Point Online
http://www.viewpointonline.net/pakistan-a-rentier-state.html

What’s wrong with Pakistan?

By Peerzada Salman

KARACHI, Aug 16: A book titled ‘What’s wrong with Pakistan?’ written by eminent journalist Babar Ayaz was launched at a hotel on Friday.

The main feature of the event was an interesting discussion on the contents and genesis of the book with the writer anchored by journalists Asif Noorani and Amir Zia. Mr Ayaz was first requested to read out a couple of passages from What’s wrong with Pakistan?

The author obliged and mentioned that at the beginning of every journalist’s career he’s asked to learn about the five Ws (what, where, when, who and why). Citing examples of the likes of political economist Adam Smith and economist and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx, he pointed out they studied why society behaved in a particular way.

He said he had read many books on the topic he chose to write on but had found out that those books shied away from calling a spade a spade. His was an attempt to call a spade a spade. He then read out passages from the preface to the book in which he touched upon issues such as distrust between institutions and provinces, military operations, war on terror and the notion of a failing state espoused by certain writers. He said there was a need to have an unbiased and dispassionate diagnosis. He argued Pakistan was born with a genetic defect.

After the reading was over, Mr Noorani asked the writer about why he penned a book at such a later stage in his life. The author replied that when he was a young student in Sukkur, he was required to read Shakespeare. It made him think to himself that Shakespeare would not have even imagined that one day his work would be read in a place called Sukkur. This meant writing helped you live on. Mr Ayaz said he was not in favour of compiling his newspaper columns into a book. The fact that Syed Sibte Hasan began writing after he turned 60 proved an encouraging factor as well.

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Russia amid changing perspective of Afghanistan

By Zulfiqar Shah

…. A similar situation is also prevailing in Pakistan, where dominancy of ethnic Punjabi in association with Urdu-speaking privileged community has perverted society in name of Islamization so that Punjab may carry on its colonization of Sindh, Baluchistan, and KP in Pakistan. It is also important to note here that in so many manners, if the chemistry of statecraft Pakistan is not changed, the issue of Afghanistan will never get resolved. Mostly because, the exclusive and non-representative security establishment of Pakistan devises it’s foreign policy, which ultimately is dominated by ethnic Punjabis and their junior partner Urdu speaking bureaucracy. Therefore, it is also essential to find the Afghan destabilization strings within the single ethnic dominated and non-pluralistic state chemistry in Pakistan. In the long term perspective, it is therefore would become unavoidable that after an optimum level stability in Afghanistan, a much needed state-chemistry change of Pakistan will also be needed. Until and unless Pakistan is not made free from ethnic Punjabi-cum Urdu and Salafi minority dominancy, there are no signs of major policy change of Pakistan towards the stability of Central-South Asian region.

Read more » Russian International Affairs Council
http://russiancouncil.ru/en/blogs/Zulfiqar-Shah/?id_4=598

Transition: Sindhi nationalist Ali Hassan Chandio dies

By Sohail Khattak

KARACHI: Ali Hassan Chandio, a Sindhi nationalist and Chairman Sindh National Movement (SNM), passed away after prolonged illness at the South City Hospital on Wednesday night. He was suffering from kidney problems coupled with diabetes.

According to his friend Asad Chandio, Hassan started his political life from Democratic Student Federation (DSF) and also remained active in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during which he was sent to prison where he was subjected to lashing. Ali Hassan was considered the youngest prisoner of conscience in Pakistan.

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Déjà Coup?

By Tarek Radwan | July 04, 2013

Things in Egypt are moving quickly—too quickly for comfort. Since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement warning of a forty-eight hour window to solve Egypt’s political problems, government officials and ministers jumped the sinking ship, as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood found themselves in a struggle for political survival after rocketing to the top of the political food chain only a year earlier. And then the army dropped its hammer. Morsi no longer rules Egypt and the revolution appears to have returned to square one after the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

After only four days of mass anti-Morsi protests and counter protests, violent clashes that left eighteen dead and hundreds wounded, and extreme rhetoric and rumors on all sides, the Egyptian military rolled out its armored personnel carriers and troops in an effort to control key state institutions and protest areas. Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the National Salvation Front (NSF) and appointed negotiator between the military and Morsi’s political opposition, spoke to a crowd of millions about a rejuvenated revolution, just as the Egyptian presidency released a statement rejecting what they view as a military coup. Secularist and anti-Morsi protesters celebrated well into the night but Islamists decried an attack on their legitimately elected president and their faith. The question remains: Is military intervention a step forwards or a step backward for Egyptian democracy?

The complexity of what the world is witnessing in Egypt cannot be understated. Its international partners cannot ignore what Islamists are lamenting: Morsi is the first freely elected, civilian president in Egypt’s history. Neither can observers disregard that a forcible removal of Morsi from office by the military is the very definition of a “military coup,” regardless of the individual or group that replaces the incumbent. However, the view that a military coup is an inherently obstacle to democratic development needs to be reexamined in light of the massive popular outrage that has poured out into the streets of Tahrir, the Presidential Palace, and across the country.

Many analysts and government officials struggle with an apparent catch 22: support the Egyptian army’s action and risk hypocrisy in light of calls for democratization, or condemn Morsi’s ouster and risk accusations of standing against the will of millions of Egyptian citizens. Is there a middle ground? Why do so many feel the impulse to celebrate a return to military control? The answer lies in the disastrous mismanagement of Egypt’s transition at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi has directly contributed to the most intensely polarized political environment in recent memory. He and the Muslim Brotherhood have practiced exclusionary politics when political consensus proved too difficult, or simply a meaningless pursuit in their calculation. These misguided policies led to a pattern of human rights violations that limited free expression, exacerbated sectarian tensions, and supported government impunity. The political crisis compounded the economic crisis, as the fiscal and budgetary deficits trickled down to the poor and middle class whose need for food and fuel outweighed faith in an Islamist system.

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Baloch need to struggle within Pakistan, says chief minister

By Anwar Iqbal

“Democracy is the only option for Baloch nationalists,” says Balochistan’s new chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. “We need to connect with national democratic forces to achieve our objectives. We need to work within Pakistan. We have no other option.”

In an interview to Dawn.com, Dr Malik said that a move by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to create a separate state for Balochs will further confuse the Baloch struggle for their rights.

“In the past, we were told the revolution will come from Moscow. Now we are told it will come from Moscow. I disagree with such suggestions. We need to struggle for our rights within Pakistan. We need to work with other democratic forces in the country.”

He said that relations with neighboring states, particularly India, Iran and Afghanistan have a direct impact on the situation in Balochistan.

“Our institutions need to sit together and work out a new foreign policy if we want peace, particularly in Balochistan.”

The sectarian violence, he said, was directly linked to the Iran-Saudi conflict and “we need to device a balanced approach to prevent these two countries from fighting their war on our turf.

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Talking to the Taliban: potential and pitfalls — Dr Mohammad Taqi

TaqiThe TTP has been able to violate every peace deal through the use of brute force that was a direct function of the sanctuary it enjoys in FATA

As we go to press Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif would have become the prime minister of Pakistan for the third time, a first in the country’s history. As he steps into the office, Mr Sharif already has his plate full. He lists the energy crisis as his number one priority and bringing the economy back from the brink as the next, though both are not mutually exclusive. Domestic security including (jihadist) terrorism, the crisis in Balochistan and foreign relations then appear on his list. Talking peace with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is part of Mr Sharif’s domestic security to-do agenda.

Even before the new assemblies were sworn in a debate had been raging whether the new government should talk to the TTP or not. The simple answer to that is: they will have to. The centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the farther-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) of Imran Khan — the two top vote getters countrywide — have consistently maintained that they will negotiate peace with the TTP. In fact, if Hillary Clinton’s spiel was ‘talk-fight-talk’ with the Afghan Taliban, the PML-N and PTI’s mantra has effectively been ‘talk, don’t fight, talk’ with the TTP.

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Nawaz promises to stand together with West in taking on terror

The next prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has promised to stand together with the West in taking on the forces of terrorism, hours after voting finished in the country’s historic general election.

During a close-fought campaign Nawaz Sharif had promised to end drone strikes and review the country’s relationship with America. As he publicly claimed victory in the poll, the two-time prime minister sought to reassure Western governments and said he would not pull back on the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“I have experience of working with US counterparts and will be very happy to further work with them,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“What is most important is that we must never allow our soil to be used by anyone to create problems with any country in this world.”

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Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), welcomes recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan

Houston, Texas – (Press release): Jamil Daudi, President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), welcomed the recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan. In a statement issued in Houston, Texas, SANA said it was a good omen that an elected government completed its term & the transfer of power is taking place peacefully through elections as according to the Constitution. SANA congratulated the winning parties and candidates and expressed the hope that new federal and provincial governments will solve the problems faced by the people.

However, while welcoming the recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan, it has expressed grave concern over the serious charges of rigging in Karachi, Hyderabad and other parts of Sindh. It demanded that fresh polls must be held in the two cities of Karachi and Hyderabad under strict security and better polling arrangements to avoid any election fraud. It also called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into the election rigging complaints from other areas in Sindh, Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. The Election Commission must take immediate steps to ensure that elections are never stolen and all the people get their fair chance to elect their representatives in a free and fair election without any duress.

SANA called for constitutional amendments to accord maximum autonomy to the provinces and giving them ownership of their resources. SANA said the people of Sindh face innumerable problems including the unemployment, poverty, lack of developmental works, lack of education and health facilities, unavailability of safe drinking water, unbearable load-shedding, deplorable law and order situation, shortage of irrigation water, lack of civic amenities, unjust distribution of resources, etc. The upcoming federal and provincial governments must give immediate attention to these and other problems faced by the people and solve them on the priority basis.

SANA is also alarmed and expressed its dismay over the delay and outcome of elections in Baluchistan and the general situation in Baluchistan. It appeals to federal government to resolve thorny issues with the Baloch nation peacefully, give Baluchistan its share of resources and work for the welfare of people of Baluchistan.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, May 13, 2013.

PAKISTAN – The poeple have spoken!

When you ask “why are the majority of Muslims silent against terrorism? Look at the masses voting in Pakistan today despite Taliban bombs going off at polling booths.” So many women and youth out there at the booths. Women who stood for their right to vote against armed, masked men. Despite all the threats the turnout has been awesome. Awesome job Pakistan!! The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is reporting that estimated 50% – 60% voter turnout across the country. The huge voter turnout was a kind of truimph of modern, secular democracy over and defeat of medieval-o-Fascism represented by barbaric Talibans and Jihadists. Second, success of a single mainstream party to obtain a near majority seats of the Federal Parliament would be good for the political stability of the country. Let no analyst, expert or pundit say there’s no hope for democracy in Pakistan. The people have spoken!

Courtesy: Adopted from Social Media (Pk e-geoups + Facebook + Twitter + DailyMotion)

Gunmen Kidnap Former Pakistan Prime Minister’s Son

By Maxine Wally 

A former Pakistani Prime Minister’s son was kidnapped Thursday, as attacks mount in lieu of the country’s upcoming elections.

Yusuf Raza Gilani, member of the Pakistan People’s Party, was headed for a small political gathering in the city of Multan, when his son, Ali Haider Gilani, was kidnapped by gunmen, according to Reuters.

His brother Musa, harrowed and outraged, appeared on a local television station in a short interview.

“If we don’t get my brother by this evening, I will not let the elections happen in my area,” he said.

Leader of the Pakistani Taliban Hakimulla Mehsud sent a letter to the party’s spokesperson detailing plans for suicide blasts and bombings at the polls in each of the country’s four provinces, scheduled for voting day, Saturday.

The Taliban have killed over 100 party workers and civilians since the beginning of April, attacking any political affiliates of secular-leaning parties that threaten the militant group. They have deigned the elections as “un-Islamic” and said they will carry out a series of attacks to cripple the elections in any way they can.

We don’t accept the system of infidels which is called democracy,” Mehsud claimed in the letter dated May 1.

Taliban spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters that they were not responsible for the kidnapping, despite details given in the aforementioned letter.

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Ominous signs

By I.A Rehman

THE day after tomorrow the people of Pakistan are likely to learn once again, among other things, the futility of efforts to establish a democratic order without efficient, democratic party apparatuses.

The party that is to suffer the most for lacking an effective party machine is the PPP. Its capacity to avoid learning from past debacles, that were caused or at least accentuated by the non-availability of dedicated party workers, is truly phenomenal. It used to discount the role of an organised party structure by describing itself as a movement. It can no longer claim that title because no charismatic leader is visible to whom the masses can swear allegiance.

In fact, fully evident are the disastrous consequences of destroying party activists by allotting them sinecures in government or allowing them the privilege of chaperoning ministers or being photographed with them. That is why bets are being offered on the size of its losses instead of the chances of its success.

Even the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), that is currently riding high on a wave of popularity, may rue its lack of seasoned party workers in sufficient numbers. The young men and women who have just joined the party are no doubt full of enthusiasm but they need time to establish their credentials within their communities.

The party looks set to make a handsome haul of seats on polling day but its tally could be bigger if the space between the leader and the voters had a larger and more distinguished and active population.

Among the parties that are expected to do better than before the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) attracts attention. Its workers are constantly in touch with the electorate thanks to its strong following among prayer leaders at mosques and madressah teachers and controllers. However, the party may face some difficulty as a result of its cadres’ change of roles from khuddam-ud-din to armed extremists, and the streak of arrogance the party leader’s fatwa business betrays.

The party that can do with a narrow cadre base is, of course, the PML-N, because it represents the interests of the class that has been wallowing in riches since the days when Ziaul Haq boosted Punjab’s economy with huge financial transfers.

Moreover, the party can attract travellers from one platform to another because it offers security from militants as well as the privilege of closeness to the custodians of Nazariya-i-Pakistan and certified patriots. Still, it has reason to be wary of the challenge from the PTI.

Far more important than the fate of political parties in the election is the question as to what lies ahead for the country and its luckless people. Chances are that whoever the winners on Saturday may be democracy is unlikely to be amongst them After making allowances for the challenges electoral arithmetic presents, one may say that the provinces look set to go their different ways. It might be difficult to deny the PML-N a majority in the Punjab Assembly but elsewhere we may see strange experiments in coalition-making.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa we may have a coalition between the PPP, the JUI-F and the Awami National Party or a JUI-F–PML-N coalition, assuming that the PTI remains true to its decision against joining any alliance. Balochistan may have a choice between an alliance of the JUI-F, the PML-N and the Balochistan National Party-Mengal or one between the JUI-F, the PML-N and the Pakhthunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

The latter arrangement, or any other combination that leaves the Baloch nationalists or the PkMAP or both out, will be born with a hole in its heart. Sindh’s future will depend on the extent of the damage the PML-N and the 10-party alliance in Sindh can cause to the PPP and the harm the PML-N and religious parties can do to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in urban Sindh. If the losses to the two parties are bearable, a PPP-MQM coalition may come on top. If the PML-N and the 10-party alliance finally get a majority, stability may elude Sindh for quite some time.

As regards the centre, democratic opinion will be satisfied if any party gets a majority of the seats or comes close to that mark. One does not know whether the establishment will let the front-running PML-N have that honour and to what extent Imran Khan will be able to realise his dream of making a clean sweep, but in any case the state is likely to tilt further towards a theocratic dispensation.

This will be due partly to the outgoing government’s failure to sustain the people’s trust in a left-of-centre platform and partly to a campaign by some judicial authorities and the babus of the Election Commission of Pakistan to foster religiosity.

The implications of this shift are going to cause serious problems, at least in the short run. The pressure for making up with the militant extremists, on their terms, will increase and they will increase their pressure for helping the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, for delaying the process of normalisation with India, and for moving further away from the US. The zealots in the legislature, the judiciary and the media will be emboldened to pursue Zia’s agenda to establish a religious oligarchy.

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Exclusive interview with Noam Chomsky on Pakistan elections

By Ayyaz Mallick |

Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Noam Chomsky, is without doubt the most widely heard and read public intellectual alive today. Although trained in linguistics, he has written on and extensively critiqued a wide range of topics, including US foreign policy, mainstream media discourses and anarchist philosophy. Chomsky’s work in linguistics revolutionised the field and he has been described as the ‘father of modern linguistics‘. Professor Chomsky, along with other luminaries such as Howard Zinn and Dr Eqbal Ahmad, came into prominence during the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and has since spoken in support of national liberation movements (and against US imperialism) in countries such as Palestine, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In fact, his prolificacy in terms of academic and non-academic writing has earned him a spot among the ten most cited sources of all time (alongside Aristotle, Marx and Plato). Now in his mid-80s, Professor Chomsky shows no signs of slowing down and maintains an active lecturing and interview schedule. Here we caught up with him to get his views on upcoming Pakistani elections, American influence in the region and other issues.

As a country which has spent almost half of its existence under some sort of direct military rule how do you see this first ever impending transition from one democratically-elected government to another?

Noam Chomsky: Well, you know more about the internal situation of Pakistan than I do! I mean I think it’s good to see something like a democratic transition. Of course, there are plenty of qualifications to that but it is a big change from dictatorship. That’s a positive sign. And I think there is some potential for introducing badly needed changes. There are very serious problems to deal with internally and in the country’s international relations. So maybe, now some of them can be confronted.

Coming to election issues, what do you think, sitting afar and as an observer, are the basic issues that need to be handled by whoever is voted into power?

NC: Well, first of all, the internal issues. Pakistan is not a unified country. In large parts of the country, the state is regarded as a Punjabi state, not their (the people’s) state. In fact, I think the last serious effort to deal with this was probably in the 1970s, when during the Bhutto regime some sort of arrangement of federalism was instituted for devolving power so that people feel the government is responding to them and not just some special interests focused on a particular region and class. Now that’s a major problem.

Another problem is the confrontation with India. Pakistan just cannot survive if it continues to do so (continue this confrontation). Pakistan will never be able to match the Indian militarily and the effort to do so is taking an immense toll on the society. It’s also extremely dangerous with all the weapons development. The two countries have already come close to nuclear confrontation twice and this could get worse. So dealing with the relationship with India is extremely important.

And that of course focuses right away on Kashmir. Some kind of settlement in Kashmir is crucial for both countries. It’s also tearing India apart with horrible atrocities in the region which is controlled by Indian armed forces. This is feeding right back into society even in the domain of elementary civil rights. A good American friend of mine who has lived in India for many years, working as a journalist, was recently denied entry to the country because he wrote on Kashmir. This is a reflection of fractures within society. Pakistan, too, has to focus on the Lashkar [Lashkar-i-Taiba] and other similar groups and work towards some sort of sensible compromise on Kashmir.

And of course this goes beyond. There is Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan which will also be a very tricky issue in the coming years. Then there is a large part of Pakistan which is being torn apart from American drone attacks. The country is being invaded constantly by a terrorist superpower. Again, this is not a small problem.

Historically, several policy domains, including that of foreign policy towards the US and India, budget allocations etc, have been controlled by the Pakistani military, and the civil-military divide can be said to be the most fundamental fracture in Pakistan’s body politic. Do you see this changing with recent elections, keeping in mind the military’s deep penetration into Pakistan’s political economy?

NC: Yes, the military has a huge role in the economy with big stakes and, as you say, it has constantly intervened to make sure that it keeps its hold on policy making. Well, I hope, and there seem to be some signs, that the military is taking a backseat, not really in the economy, but in some of the policy issues. If that can continue, which perhaps it will, this will be a positive development.

Maybe, something like what has happened recently in Turkey. In Turkey also, for a long time, the military was the decisive force but in the past 10 years they have backed off somewhat and the civilian government has gained more independence and autonomy even to shake up the military command. In fact, it even arrested several high-ranking officers [for interfering in governmental affairs]. Maybe Pakistan can move in a similar direction. Similar problems are arising in Egypt too. The question is whether the military will release its grip which has been extremely strong for the past 60 years. So this is happening all over the region and particularly strikingly in Pakistan.

In the coming elections, all indications are that a coalition government will be formed. The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is leading the polls with Imran Khan’s (relatively) newly-emerged party not far behind. Do you think an impending coalition government will be sufficiently equipped to handle the myriad problems facing the country that you have just pointed out, such as civil-military imbalance, drone attacks, extremist violence etc.

NC: Well, we have a record for Nawaz Sharif but not the others. And judging by the record, it’s pretty hard to be optimistic. His [Sharif's] previous governments were very corrupt and regressive in the policies pursued. But the very fact that there is popular participation can have impact. That’s what leads to change, as it has just recently in North Africa (in Tunisia and Egypt). As far as change goes, significant change does not come from above, it comes through popular activism.

In the past month or so, statements from the US State Department and the American ambassador to Pakistan have indicated quite a few times that they have ‘no favourites’ in the upcoming elections. What is your take on that especially with the impending (formal) US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

NC: That could well be true. I do not think that US government has any particular interest in one or another element of an internal political confrontation. But it does have very definite interests in what it wants Pakistan to be doing. For example, it wants Pakistan to continue to permit aggressive and violent American actions on Pakistani territory. It wants Pakistan to be supportive of US goals in Afghanistan. The US also deeply cares about Pakistan’s relationship with Iran. The US very much wants Pakistan to cut relations with Iran which they [Pakistan] are not doing. They are following a somewhat independent course in this regard, as are India, China and many other countries which are not strictly under the thumb of the US. That will be an important issue because Iran is such a major issue in American foreign policy. And this goes beyond as every year Pakistan has been providing military forces to protect dictatorships in the Gulf from their own populations (e.g. the Saudi Royal Guard and recently in Bahrain). That role has diminished but Pakistan is, and was considered to be, a part of the so-called ‘peripheral system’ which surrounded the Middle East oil dictatorships with non-Arab states such as Turkey, Iran (under the Shah) and Pakistan. Israel was admitted into the club in 1967. One of the main purposes of this was to constrain and limit secular nationalism in the region which was considered a threat to the oil dictatorships.

As you might know, a nationalist insurgency has been going on in Balochistan for almost the past decade. How do you see it affected by the elections, especially as some nationalist parties have decided to take part in polls while others have decried those participating as having sold out to the military establishment?

NC: Balochistan, and to some extent Sindh too, has a general feeling that they are not part of the decision-making process in Pakistan and are ruled by a Punjabi dictatorship. There is a lot of exploitation of the rich resources [in Balochistan] which the locals are not gaining from. As long as this goes on, it is going to keep providing grounds for serious uprisings and insurgencies. This brings us back to the first question which is about developing a constructive from of federalism which will actually ensure participation from the various [smaller] provinces and not just, as they see it, robbing them.

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Warning of Violence: TTP focused on ending democracy, says Mehsud

MIRANSHAH: In a letter to the media, leader of banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said that his group is focused on jeopardising democracy by hindering elections in the country.

“We have succeeded politically after we were asked to negotiate by the government,” said Hakimullah Mehsud.

He added that the group was now solely ‘focused’ on the next elections.

As elections are nearing, TTP’s aim would be to “end the democratic system,” the letter further said. Mehsud also urged TTP militants to target senior politicians and party leaders, while continuing the battle against security forces.

Furthermore, in a rare address from an undisclosed location, the militant chief claimed that the TTP was not just fighting a war on a tactical level, but were also able to ‘subdue’ politicians by making them negotiate.

TTP student union

A student union of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was traced by the police while three of its members splashed posters and banners around Multan.

The publicity material was scripted with inflammatory messages, encouraging people to not vote in elections as democracy was ‘un-Islamic’. It demanded that the people of Pakistan should adhere to the shariah (Islamic law), and said that it was haraam for them to participate in the voting process.

Police claim that the three members were students belonged to Lahore, but were enrolled at the Bahauddin Zakarriya University in Multan. After posting 50 banners in the urban area, they were putting posters on the walls of the Multan press club when they were caught by the journalists.

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Pakistan: What Does the Future Hold?

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Pakistan is at a crossroads. Its fragmented internal and external political situation is gradually inching towards chaos. The country is facing secessionist movements in the Balochistan and Sindh provinces; religious terrorism in Punjab, the Tribal Areas, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province; war on its Afghan border; continued discontent with neighbouring India; disagreements with the US; and a distancing from Saudi Arabia. The key to understanding these current crises is in the understanding of state building and statecraft.

Ethnography of State Building

Pakistan’s foreign policy is deeply rooted in the partition of British India, and thereby in the early period of its state building.

In 1946, Pashtuns, under Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, were against the idea of Pakistan. They were considered an internal security threat by the Muhajir (refugees from India) leadership of the All India Muslim League (AIML), and as a result the NWFP (now KPK) Provincial Legislative Assembly which housed a congressional majority was dismissed in September 1947.

Sindh was treated similarly. G.M. Syed, who tabled and lobbied the historic Resolution of Pakistan in the Sindh Legislative Assembly before the partition, became an arch opponent of it in 1946 and resigned from the AIML. The Sindh government was dismissed in April 1948 due to their refusal to separate Karachi from Sindh in order to establish a capital of the newly formed country and its resistance of violence against the Hindu population of the area and their exodus.

Balochstan was neither part of the partition plan nor was it part of Pakistan in 1947. Qalat Khanate (Balochi speaking Balochistan) was an independent sovereign state with a bicameral parliament, cabinet and a head of the state. Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan in 1948.

Sindhis, Balochis and Pashtuns were perceived to be a security concern by the Punjabi-Muhajir AIML leadership, military and civil bureaucracy, and were excluded from the state building process. The foreign policy making of Pakistan, excluding Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s period of 1972-1977, was been envisioned, steered, and implemented by the ethnic-Punjabi majority army in association with Urdu Speaking the Muhajir majority bureaucracy. If analyzed on the ethnic lines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan have employed fewer ethnic Sindhis and Balochs in last sixty years then the ethnic Punjabis and Urdu speaking Muhajirs employed during last sixty months.

In 1947, the army was almost entirely Punjabi, whilst the civil bureaucracy and the AIML leadership was Muhajir. The AIML leadership being refugees did not have an electoral constituency in Pakistan, and there democracy was less aligned with their interests. Moreover, Jinnah’s practical detachment from state-building due to his deteriorated health led Pakistan towards a non-democratic political model based on a civil bureaucracy-military-aristocracy triumvirate of Punjabi and Urdu speaking refugees, which kept the other ethnicities and provinces away from the processes of state craft. Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India could be defined as a reaction of the Punjabi and Urdu-speaking refugees towards the violence occurred during the partition.

Since the formation of Pakistan, Pashtuns were sidelined to prevent their imagined annexation with Afghanistan. The NWFP region was accorded to British India under Durand Line agreement in 1893 by Afghan King Emir Amanullah Khan after Anglo-Afghan War in 1839. The inclusion of Pashtuns in the security establishment only became possible after the takeover by General Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan, both from NWFP, with their numbers further increased by General Ziaul Haq during the “Afghan Jihad” period of the cold war.

Can Borders Alone Decide Policies?

Pakistan’s foreign policy and strategic vision consists of two basic interconnected factors – inward external security and outward internal concerns defined within the context of its relationship with Afghanistan and India. Historically, Pakistan has worked within the boundaries of alliances with the US, Saudi Arabia, and China, serving international interests that suit the Pakistani civil-military elite, and supports retrogressive Arab nationalism manifested into the extremist Islamist movements. After sixty years of the country’s existence, its foreign policy triangle has evolved into a Central Asia – China and Iran axis. Pakistan’s security in broader terms is defined by its immediate neighbours and inversely associated with internal concerns and interests, which are ironically defined by a very much non-representative establishment of the country.

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Musharraf’s return: The graveyard is full of indispensables

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“We rotate these days among people … the only being who cannot and will not perish is your Lord.”

We were inside the parliament building, saying Friday prayers after a stormy Senate session. What we witnessed inside made all of us feel humble and subdued.

“Put Pervez Musharraf in the same cell where he put Nawaz Sharif. Let snakes and scorpions into his room. Let him cry out in pain,” said one of the senators as the lawmakers vented their anger against the former military ruler.

“Handcuff and shackle him and parade him through the streets,” said another senator.

I opened a little window to the recent past and found myself in the army chief’s official residence in Rawalpindi where Musharraf was staying after toppling Nawaz Sharif. He was still the chief executive of Pakistan, a strange title he coined for himself before moving to the president’s office.

We were there with a media team to interview him. Some members of his advisory team were also there, including a Rawalpindi politician. Musharraf sneezed. Three of these advisors ran to him, holding tissue papers. The Pindi politician reached him first. Others looked at him with envy.

None of them came forward to defend the former dictator when PPP, PML-N and ANP lawmakers berated him this Friday, although some of them were present during the debate too.

The senators also targeted the caretaker government for failing to arrest Musharraf after an Islamabad court refused to grant him bail.

They wanted him “hauled to the worst prison” in the country, as a PPP senator said. Later, one senator also suggested that he should be hanged for toppling a lawfully elected government.

Above all, they wanted him “disgraced, dishonored and humiliated” as a “warning to future adventure seekers.”

The retired general, however, had already suffered much humiliation. The man who once hauled the country’s chief justice to his office and tried to persuade him to resign is now forced to appear before junior magistrates, seeking bail.

But that’s not enough for his enemies. They want more. “Do to him what they did to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif,” said one senator, ignoring a plea from the Senate chairman not to get carried away.

The sane among them, however, did warn their colleagues not to go too far. “The ground realities must not be ignored,” said a senior PPP senator. “After all, he is a former army chief and the military obviously will not like this humiliation.”

He urged the angry politicians to seek a way out, proposing “consultation among all stake holders,” i.e. the interim government, the judiciary, PPP, PML-N, ANP and the military.

Other senators also agreed with the suggestion, saying that starting a treason trial against Musharraf will not stop at him. “Don’t forget that the present army chief was also attended Musharraf’s meeting with the chief justice,” said a senator.

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Senators demand Musharraf’s arrest for supremacy of law

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ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in the Upper House of the Parliament Thursday demanded action against former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for his crimes against constitution, democracy, political leadership and the nation.

They also demanded from the caretaker interior minister to inform the House how he escaped from the court to his residence and “why a former General could not be arrested if the elected prime ministers of the country can be sent to jails.”

Speaking on points of order, the senators claimed that double standard existed in the country in violation of the Constitution which considers every Pakistani equal before the law.

“We have been talking of the rule of law and independence of judiciary. But, today we have seen that it is easy to send an elected prime minister to jail but a former General and military dictator cannot be arrested,” remarked senior PPPP Senator Raza Rabbani.

“In Pervez Musharraf’s case it is test of time. When the court had ordered to arrest him, then why he was not arrested. It’s a question mark,” Rabbani added.

He charged Pervez Musharraf of involvement in the abetment of killing of Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti, abrogating the constitution and house arresting the judges of superior judiciary.

“Musharraf is a usurper who twice abrogated the Constitution. He was announced to be arrested but he safely fled in connivance with state institutions. The caretaker government was responsible to arrest him and the interior minister should inform the House why the government had not fulfilled its obligations,” Rabbani said.

PPPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said he does not hold caretaker government responsible for his escape. “I have been looking the state apparatus very closely. There are two laws and double standards in the country. If we could not mend it over the time how we can hold the caretakers responsible for these double standards.”

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Musharraf on the run after bail cancellation

.This act of the former military ruler “underscores his disregard for due legal process and indicates his assumption that as a former army chief and military dictator he can evade accountability for abuses”, Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“It is essential that Pakistan’s military authorities which are protecting the former dictator comply with the Islamabad High Court’s orders and ensure that he presents himself for arrest,” the statement added.

It further said that “continued military protection for General Musharraf will make a mockery of claims that Pakistan’s armed forces support the rule of law and bring the military further disrepute that it can ill afford.”

ISLAMABAD: General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Thursday escaped from the premises of the Islamabad High Court after the cancellation of his bail application by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui in the judges detention case.

Immediately after the bail cancellation, police tried to reach the former military ruler but he was escorted by his personal security, fleeing in his bullet-proof black four-wheeler.

“Islamabad High Court has cancelled Musharraf’s bail and ordered his arrest in the judges’ detention case today,” said Muhammad Amjad, secretary-general of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party.

In a written judgement printed in English, the IHC ordered that: “He (Musharraf) be taken into custody and dealt with in accordance with law.”

The detailed verdict issued by the Islamabad High Court ordered for terrorism to be added to the list of charges against the former military ruler. The order further said that Musharraf’s exit from the court earlier during the day warranted for separate charges to be filed against him.

According to reports, Musharraf’s lawyers reached the Supreme Court to file a pre-arrest bail application in order avoid his surrender to the police.

However, the SC returned the 14-page bail application as the timings for the Registrar’s office had ended. Musharraf’s lawyers are now expected to resubmit the appeal on Friday.

After departing from the IHC’s premises, Musharraf had reached his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, a suburban area on the outskirts of Islamabad where security was beefed up and all entry and exit routes to the area were blocked.

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Electoral politics, chemistry of fragmentation and future of Pakistan

By Zulfiqar Shah

Pakistan will undergo the decisive general elections of its history in May 2013. The country, which has been facing a decade-long human catastrophe in the form of religious extremism and war against terrorism, freedom wars and ethnic as well as sectarian violence, will get direction through the polls out of the only options of reforms or anarchy.

The upcoming general elections in Pakistan are strategically important. Although their nature is not similar to the general elections of 1971, their possible consequences may lead the country to a foreseeable anarchy. Elections are following the first ever democratically elected government in the country that has completed its constitutional tenure in last sixty-six years. At the directionless juncture of terrorism, war, insurgencies and fascistic as well as chauvinistic mode of politics, the fate of the country has to be stamped by the results of the upcoming elections.

Fault lines of election politics

Pakistan is a numerical and vote democracy. Historically, it has never translated the essence of democracy to the underdeveloped and oppressed masses, ethnicities, classes, cultures, and sub-cultures. An appropriate definition of democratic governance in Pakistan would be an electoral representation that carries forward the key decisions of the non-civilian dominated establishment consisting mostly of civil and military cronies of ethnic Punjabi and Urdu groups. Such an ethnic exclusive and religiously non-pluralist composition of state apparatus has directed a statecraft navigating Pakistan to chaos that has anchored at an unexplored anarchy.

The adhoc and ethno-religiously biased non-democratic governance in Pakistan has finally led country to the socio-political collapse of another kind. In such a situation, the upcoming elections in Pakistan will have broader and, no doubt, grave outlines.

i. The results of the elections will end up in fragmented electoral representation in the parliament. Hence, Pakistan will finally bid farewell the two-party system.

ii. The elections would be contested on ethnic and religious lines, which ultimately space out a highly accelerated ethnic contest over power in the upcoming term of the government.

iii. The extremely declining voter turnout in Pakistan during last two decades indicates that majority of Pakistanis do not cast their vote and show their mistrust in the country or its system. The turnout of this year will be something that will give caution to the real managers of the state whether Pakistan has furthered its tilt towards state failure!

iv. This election would also determine the nature of the future conflicts between center and the provinces, various ethnic groups particularly Punjabi-Urdu monopoly and the rest, and between liberals and extremists.

v. The results will decide the further increase or decline in the role of military in governance as well as sustainability of Pakistan as a viable state.

vi. The possible violence during elections will describe the outlook of peace and human security regime in future.

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Pakistani youth ‘cool on democracy’

 

More than half of those surveyed said democracy had not been good for them or the country

More Pakistani youth would prefer Islamic law or military rule than democracy, a survey suggests.

More than half of 5,000 18-29 year-old Pakistanis polled said democracy had not been good for them or the country.

Some 94% said Pakistan was going in the wrong direction, up from 50% in 2007, the British Council survey found.

Almost a third of registered voters in Pakistan are under 30 years old, and are expected to play a big part in a general election due in May.

When asked to pick the best political system, both Sharia and military rule were favoured over democracy.

The survey points towards a pessimistic generation, disenchanted with democracy after five years of civilian rule, says the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad.

Most of those surveyed had more faith in the army than any other institution.

Approval ratings for the military were about 70% compared with just 13% for the government.

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Where is the evidence of Democracy?

Scientist muzzling probed by information commissioner

Complaint was filed by Democracy Watch and University of Victoria on Feb. 20

By CBC News

Canada’s information commissioner has confirmed that her office will investigate allegations that the federal government is muzzling its scientists.

The office of Suzanne Legault has concluded that a complaint made by Democracy Watch and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic in February falls within its mandate, wrote Emily McCarthy, assistant information commissioner, in a letter released Monday by Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based non-profit organization that advocates for government accountability.

The letter, dated March 27, added that the office has notified and sent a summary of the complaint to the relevant government institutions:

  • Environment Canada.
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
  • Natural Resources Canada.
  • National Research Council of Canada.
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
  • Department of National Defence.

Treasury Board included

The letter added, “We have also determined that the Treasury Board Secretariat should be included in your complaint because of its role in relation to the development and implementation of government policies.”

Tyler Sommers, co-ordinator of Democracy Watch, said in a statement, that the group is “very pleased” about the investigation being called.

“And we will continue to push the information commissioner to get to the bottom of this situation, publicly release the results, and push the federal government to change these policies,” he added.

The complaint, filed on Feb. 20, suggested that federal government policy “forcing scientists to jump through hoops before speaking with the mediabreaches the Access to Information Act.

The complaint included a 26-page report with 100 pages of appendices, containing details and examples, based on internal government documents previously released through freedom of information requests, along with conversations with current and former federal public servants, journalists, members of non-profit organizations, and professors at Canadian universities.

The federal Access to Information Act requires the Office of the Information Commissioner to investigate “any matter related to obtaining or requesting access to records” from federal institutions.

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