The 2010 Commonwealth Games – A Systemic Indicator of India’s Democracy

by Koustubh Parulekar

The 2010 Commonwealth Games, hosted in Delhi this October 3-14, are touted to be India’s answer to Beijing’s 2008 Olympic extravaganza; a vehicle to announce India’s arrival on the world stage as an economic, cultural and political powerhouse. …

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We are not religious extremists

Sindh – Hyderabad : October 03, 2010-  Tens of Sindhis held peaceful protests on October 03, 2010 in different cities of Sindh against terrorist acts of religious right on NATO supplies. By condemning these acts of violence we are separating the people of Sindh from those who thrive on religious & ethnic hatred in Pakistan. We are sending a clear message to the world that the land of Bhittai believes in tolerance, peaceful co-existence and respect of all religions of the world. We are working on G.M. Syed’s true & real message of brother hood & humanity. These are the teachings of G.M. Syed that are giving us courage to stand up against religious right in Pakistan. ….

Read more in Sindhi >> wesindhi

Pakistan – Three ex-Army generals found guilty of 25 billion scam

Three ex-Army generals found guilty of Rs 25 bn scam – By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: A nine-year-old Rs 25 billion scam of the Musharraf regime has returned to haunt his three favourite ex-Army Generals, who administered the Pakistan Railways in 2001, former ISI chief Javed Ashraf Qazi, Saeeduz Zafar and Hamid Hassan Butt.

A 20-member special parliamentary committee of the National Assembly, formed by Speaker NA Dr Fahmida Mirza on April 22, 2008, investigated the lease of PR’s hundreds of acres of land of Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, Lahore, to a private party. It has now recommended to the government to register criminal cases against these ex-generals and confiscate and auction their property to recover the losses before cancelling the deal.

These generals were summoned by the committee to give their side of the story but they failed to convince the members of their innocence. This is the major finding of any parliamentary committee since the return of democracy in 2008. The special committee has recommended immediate termination of the contract signed in 2001 and appointment of a new ad hoc committee for the interim period. It recommended fresh leasing of the Royal Palm Golf Course in an open auction so that maximum revenue could be generated for the Pakistan Railways, which according to its calculation might exceed Rs 40 billion. ….

Read more >> The News

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Parliament investigates corruption of Musharraf’s Generals

Courtesy: DawnNews (Arshad Sharif)

Via >> ZemTV

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Secularism vs Islam?

Secularism Debate: A fallacious binary – by Saqlain Imam

The word secularism seems to be the most contentious one in the Pakistani political culture. Anything that is anti-religion or non-religious is dubbed secular; it is understood as a Western concept with no direct connection with Islam; for example, some people might find some Christian or Judaic values or practices secular. The word is used in its smallest possible definition to the widest and wildest interpretations. But in all kinds of debates, one thing is common — anti-secular groups use religion to justify non-democratic disposition of the state.

Although when we normally talk about secularism, it means governance that should stand separately from religion or religious beliefs, in the context of the Pakistani state, and indeed Pakistani society, the concept of secularism is widely, and perhaps deliberately, misconstrued.

It must be clearly understood right from the very beginning that religion, or in this case Islam, is not the only source to justify non-democratic governance. It depends on the peculiar circumstances of a nation and which forces are trying to use religion or secularism to support its non-democratic concepts of governance. Among Muslim states for instance, Turkey’s army uses secularism to support its non-democratic role, so did Pakistan’s Army in the 1960s. Currently, the Algerian government and Palestinian Authority are using secularism to strengthen their non-democratic role in their own systems of governance.

In Pakistan’s case, the dominant argument for the non-democratic actors to influence the country’s politics and governance is religion. This is not a suitable place to go into the details of how religion’s narration replaced the secular narration in Pakistani politics, or whether there was ever a secular narration at all in the history of the people of South Asia. But the fact is that currently seculars are supporting democratic forces, while the religious forces are bent upon undermining the democratic disposition of the state, constitution and society.

Take the role of Pakistan Army; it is now known as a ‘Jihadi’ institution, its official motto is “Jihad Fi Sabil Lillah” (Jihad for the cause of Allah). Pakistan’s Supreme Court’s recent verdict on the NRO amply and loudly speaks that it wants to re-write the constitution where democracy should be subordinate to the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah. Few people have realised that it’s a step to advance General Zia-ul-Haq’s doctrine in a much bolder manner. General Zia made the “amended” Objective Resolution an operational part of the constitution through undemocratic means. ….

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Musharraf spills the beans

BIRMINGHAM: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that graft cases against slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and her spouse Asif Zardari in Switzerland’s courts were not proven.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Express, Musharraf revealed that a letter was also written to Swiss authorities during his regime showing displeasure at the lengthy trial.

He said the rounds of negotiations he held with Benazir Bhutto were always one-on-one.

He said people on TV talk shows make noises about NRO and talk incessantly about the deal even though they know nothing about the facts.

Replying to a question, he said his meetings with Benazir Bhutto in Abu Dhabi used to span three to four hours, and they were always one-on-one. Rehman Malik accompanied the PPP leader but did not participate in the negotiations.

He recalled that when in the first round of talks Benazir asked for abolition of 58-2 (b) “I refused point blank”. He said when talking about the cases instituted against her during Nawaz Sharif government, Benazir used to become misty-eyed.

The ex-president said that the cases against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari were neither proved in Swiss courts nor in Pakistan’s, while both were acquitted in many cases.

He said he had written to the Swiss courts that their performance was even worse than Pakistani courts as they failed to decide the cases, “but the fact of the matter is that there was nothing in those cases”.

Read more >> The Express Tribune