I will go down like Allende, not Nawaz Sharif – President Zardari

President Asif Zardari

By Tarek Fatah

Few leaders have emulated Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who in 1985 relinquished all of his powers and voluntarily stepped down as president of the country. At a time when African dictators, Arab Kings and Latin American generalissimos adorned themselves in bizarre military uniforms, medieval costumes and got appointed ‘life presidents’, Nyerere, known to his people simply as Mwalimu or “teacher”, quietly passed on the torch. Other Afro-Asian leaders have done the exact opposite. Notably, Mugabe, Qaddafi and the King of Saudi Arabia it seems will only leave office when the angel of death descends.

From Canada, it seems impossible to imagine that anyone at the top would ever dare to relinquish power. Whether it is the Saudi kings or Mugabe or Qaddafi, it seems in the third world, only divine intervention brings about change.

However, a quarter century later, on Monday, April 19, an echo of Nyerere’s rare statesmanship was heard and witnessed on another continent. With a simple signature, President Asif Zardari of Pakistan signed away most of his executive powers he had inherited from military predecessors to become the country’s ceremonial head of state. For 40 years military dictators who had overthrown elected governments had ruled unconstitutionally with a complicit judiciary that had legitimised their acts of treason. Zardari’s action nullified decades of damage to give Pakistan the chance for a fresh start.

In the words of columnist Raza Rumi, Pakistan “crossed a major milestone” when all of the country’s political parties — the ruling alliance and the opposition — reached a consensus on the 18th Amendment to the country’s constitution. He wrote, “The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many sceptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.”

Few years ago when Zardari was unanimously elected president by the country’s National Assembly, Senate and all members of the four provincial legislatures, he had promised that he would work to amend the country’s constitution so that no future president was able to dismiss an elected parliament or usurp power. At the time few people believed he would do what he was promising. After all, who in his right mind gives up power, willingly?

Zardari has proven all his critics wrong and in doing so has changed the course of Pakistan’s history. The man lampooned unfairly by the country’s powerful establishment — the media, the generals and the judges — as “Mr Ten Percent” has in fact given “One-Hundred-and-Ten Percent” back to the country. While the nation celebrates, still in disbelief that anyone at the top was willing to curtail their own powers, his critics in the armed forces and the judiciary are foaming with anger, unable to stop him from enshrining democracy as an immutable reality in Pakistan.

The country’s Punjab-dominated judges and generals, though smarting from this setback, still wield the power to undo this historic development. In fact, as he signed the document, President Zardari did not shy away from suggesting there may still be some generals lurking in the shadows who may stage a military coup with the backing of the judiciary.

After the signing ceremony Zardari took everyone by surprise when he said while the doors stood closed to dictators, “mishaps” could not be ruled out. Asked about the possibility of another dictatorship, he said, “I am fully confident that no dictator would dare step in now, but then, who can rule out mishaps?”

Ever the realist, the man who has witnessed the murder of his wife, the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the judicial assassination of his father-in-law, Prime Minister ZA Bhutto and two of his wife’s brothers, Zardari has seen death at close quarters and I am told he has warned the military as well the judiciary that any attempt to stage a military coup will have to contend with his dead body. “I will go down like Allende, not Nawaz Sharif,” he told a common friend and those who know him since his days at a military cadet college say the man keeps his word.

Continue reading I will go down like Allende, not Nawaz Sharif – President Zardari

Memogate – WHEN reality is so distorted, how does the record get set straight?

A sceptic’s guide to memogate

By Cyril Almeida

Excerpt;

WHEN reality is so distorted, how does the record get set straight?

Memogate — the alleged plea by Husain Haqqani/Asif Zardari to save the civilian government from an army coup after May 2 in return for sacking military principals and disbanding a shadowy cell of the ISI that manages links to militant groups — was less startling than preposterous.

While this is Pakistan and anything is possible, some things are still more possible than others. …

… Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of memogate is Mike Mullen`s denial and then clarification of his denial and an outright admission.

We`re talking here about an administration that doesn`t officially acknowledge drone strikes or the 14-page memo Kayani handed Obama. That a recently retired top-ranking officer will through a spokesperson speak on the record to a reporter about such stuff is, quite frankly, astonishing.

Sure, Mullen denied he acted on the memo or that he took it seriously, but this two-term chairman of the joints chiefs of staff knows the media worldwide, even the Pakistani media, enough to be aware of his statement`s implications for Haqqani and the media pressure it would pile on Zardari in an already lopsided civil-military relationship that the Americans presumably have some interest in rectifying.

So yes, memogate is finally genuinely intriguing. Not because it implies games are afoot inside Pakistan, which they always are, but because Mullen has seen it fit to throw Haqqani, and possibly Zardari, under the bus.

It`s a tantalising question, based admittedly on flimsy evidence, but have the Americans soured on Zardari?

Read more » DAWN.COM

The treasonous memo!

By Shaheen Sehbai & Mohammad Malick

ISLAMABAD/DUBAI: From a smoking gun to a smouldering fuse, the mysterious memo earned many sobriquets even before its precise contents were known to anyone but a handful of highly secretive power players involved in its drafting and communication. The (in)famous, rather possibly game-changing, Mike Mullen memo, ironically contains six mutinous articles and is now being revealed after Admiral Mike Mullen also confirmed its existence and ‘remembered’ having received it at the height of the OBL crisis.

After days of huddles between the troika and other major power players of the country resulted in a resignation offer by President Zardari’s closest foreign and domestic policy adviser and Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, the memo has acquired the importance of a political nuclear bomb. …

Read more » The News

Join Tri-State (NY, NJ and CT) Sindhi Community in celebrating International Sindhi Cultural & Solidarity Day

Join Tri-State (NY, NJ and CT) Sindhi Community in celebrating International Sindhi Cultural & Solidarity Day

Venue: Kabab King Mehal, 495 Hempstead Turnpike, West Hempstead, NY 11552. Date: Saturday November 26th, 2011 , Time:7:00 pm

Wear Sindhi Ajrak and Topi and Join millions of Sindhis all over the world in celebrating their culture, language and heritage. Sindhi people cherish their Universalist peace cultural practices. This event is open to all ages. Event includes food, music concert and cultural demonstrations.

Husain Haqqani Shaheed, Nishan e Haider

by Hakim Hazik

To, President Asif Ali Zardari

President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

And,

Field Martial Avatar P Kayani, The Supreme Leader, In-charge S Wing

Father of the Nation

Through the Good Offices of,

Mr Mansoor Ijaz,

Interlocutor to Admiral Mullen, President Obama and God.

Dear Sirs,

Please find enclosed my resignation from the post of the ambassador in Washington. I have submitted it simultaneously to the FO, the YouTube and the Twitter.

Your Excellencies,

Much has been made of my alleged memorandum to Admiral Mullen regarding the S-Wing. I want to make it clear that I have no recollection of ever sending it and as the world media now knows, the respected Admiral has no memory of receiving it. However, I realize that there are times in the life of nations when hard decisions have to be made for the greater good of the gentle souls in hobnailed boots which are only occasionally applied on the presidential posteriors.

The least I can do to save the posterior that I hold dear, more than any other in the world (my own) is to tender my resignation. This, I hope, will clear the air and will allow both nations to get on wholeheartedly with the most important task at hand, which may otherwise have been neglected, that of slaughtering the Afghans.

We need to realize that the administration of both countries are swimming against national tides. I know that the average American wants to eviscerate the average Pakistani and the average Pakistani wants to behead the average American. The people who hold the levers of power should do their best to facilitate this mutual enactment of national ideals whilst never losing sight of the ultimate goal of pulverizing Afghanistan, the policy objective that the both strategic allies strongly support.

At this juncture, I must pay tribute to Mr Mansoor Ijaz whose selfless devotion to international statecraft is unsurpassed in the modern history and matched only by the likes of Metternich, Kissinger and Raymond Davis.

Armed with a clear sense of destiny and a BlackBerry Bold 9900TM, he has served both the great nations and changed the course of world history. When the future historian (Yours Truly) writes an account of these momentous events, in the fullness of time (next week), he will not fail to note the sagacity, perspicacity and strength of character, that drove this intrepid servant of soft strategic depth to undertake amazing acts of valour at great personal risk.

Dear Field Marshall,

I owe you a personal debt of gratitude that you have been gracious in sparing my gonads, the attention of your forthright and patriotic hobnailed boots. I will never forget this act of kindness and am very grateful for not having to join the misguided and foolish cohort of petty pen-pushers such as Hayat Ullah Khan and Syed Salim Shehzad. I will try and repay this benevolence as soon as I have sold the 1st millionth copy of my memoirs.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Husain Haqqani, Embassy of Pakistan,

Washington, DC 20008

Courtesy » ViewPoint

http://www.viewpointonline.net/husain-haqqani-shaheed-nishan-e-haider.html

BAAGHI: Sindh fights back in Shikarpur

BAAGHI: Pakistan fights back in Shikarpur —Marvi Sirmed

Shikarpur was to the old Sindh what Karachi is today to Pakistan. Having trade links with Central Asia, from Qandahar to Uzbekistan to Moscow, Shikarpur was the gateway of Sindh to the world

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan saw yet another moment of national shame right on the day of Eid-ul-Azha when four Hindus, including three doctors, were brutally killed in broad daylight. Conflicting media messages and false claims about the motive are but an ugly attempt to justify the crime. According to the story given out to the media, the murders took place after a boy from the Hindu community sexually assaulted a girl from the Muslim Bhayo tribe. Bhayo is the third most influential tribes of Shikarpur after the Jatois and Mahars in Chak town of Shikarpur. Hindus make around 6,000 out of the total 40,000 people in Chak town and are the predominant contributors to Sindh’s economy through trade and other professions. In the local politics of the area, the Hindu community has never been as muted as it is now, after the advent of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), working openly through their unmarked offices and representatives since at least a decade.

One was appalled listening to the people of the town about the immunity with which the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) operates in Shikarpur in cahoots with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) and with the support of local tribal chiefs and state machinery, especially the police. The accused Bhayo tribe has its members in not only the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (the main accused Babul Khan Bhayo is district head of the PPP), but also in pro-Taliban  Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) and proscribed militant extremist organisation, the SSP.

According to the details gathered from the local communities, a young girl from Bhayo community went to see her Hindu friend on Diwali night. The girl was seen entering the autaq (sitting area used by males), which was unusual in the local culture. Discovering the boy and the girl together, community elders (Hindus) reportedly beat the boy and sent the girl back to her home. The event triggered the ‘honour’ of the Bhayo tribe. What made things worse was the boy’s religion. The Bhayos felt doubly humiliated.

The Bhayo members of the  Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) and the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) started threatening the entire Hindu community since that day. The community requested the police for security after which the police established a small picket near the Hindu neighbourhood. But two hours before the incident, policemen vanished from the scene only to come back half an hour after the ambush. Just when the police pretended to start searching for the culprits, SSP and JUI-F workers gathered around the police station and amid the slogans of Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great) and Jihad Fi Sabilillah (war in the cause of God), they intimidated the police staff and asked to close the case. Resultantly, the FIR could only be registered around 36 hours after the crime. The victims’ family does not agree with the facts described in the state-registered complaint.

Noteworthy is the fact that the victims were not even remotely related to the Hindu boy accused by the Bhayo tribes of being ‘karo’ (accused boy). According to a much-criticised tradition, when an unmarried couple is caught together, they are murdered after the Panchayat is informed. The accused girl (kari) is usually murdered before or with the accused boy (karo). According to the tribal code, karo can only be the one directly involved in the ‘illicit’ relations with the kari. In this case, even the principles of this tradition (unapproved by educated Sindhis), karo-kari (honour killing), were not followed. It is a case of simple and direct targeting of the Hindu community, which remains an endangered one after the religious extremists were installed in the area for running the madrassas.

Madrassa tradition in Shikarpur is almost 40 years old, which is the age of the oldest madrassa here. According to the locals, Pashto speaking Niazis from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjabis from south Punjab were brought in over a decade ago. Totally alien to the local culture and traditions, they tried to impose strict Islamic code, which initially did not work. But after more than a decade, an entire generation has been out of these madrassas in the social life of Shikarpur. When I spoke to over a dozen people from the local Muslim community, I found them extremely opposed to and fearful of the Islamisation being brought to Sindh, which they saw as a part of the larger design of ruining the Sindhi culture.

The fact that the common people still value local pluralistic culture is evident from the fact that over the last few days, people — mainly Muslims — are coming out in the streets every day in almost 500-600 villages and towns of rural Sindh against this incident. It was heartening to know that not only thousands (6,000 according to a conservative estimate by a member of the local Press Club) of Muslims participated in the funeral of their four fellow citizens; hundreds of them have taken upon themselves to ensure the security of the frightened Hindu community. They stay day and night at the entrance of the Hindu neighbourhood. These common people, one Hindu resident of the area said, are not only from the influential Mahar and Jatoi communities but also some Bhayos are seen among them.

When asked how the pro-Taliban Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Fazl (JUI-F) guys got such an influence in an otherwise sufi and secular culture of this city, the people proudly said that the fact that these extremists need political backing, support of the tribal influentials and police machinery, is enough evidence of their weakness. Had they had a popular support, they would not have needed any of these tactics. A local rights’ activist (Muslim), who is a key organiser of a protest rally today (Monday) at 12 noon in Hyderabad, wanted me to tell the world that Pakistanis would fight extremism till the last drop of their blood.

This is Pakistan! Those in the charge of things must realise that the people of Pakistan are committed to their pluralistic values ingrained in their sufi culture. Any effort to dismantle plural and secular social base would be met with fierce resistance. The ones who believe that we, the ‘liberal fascists’, are few in number and are irrelevant, should see how this battle is being fought by a common citizen in Sindh, original home to a wonderful Hindu community who made Shikarpur mercantile hub of Sindh before the Talpurs came in. Shikarpur was to the old Sindh what Karachi is today to Pakistan. Having trade links with Central Asia, from Qandahar to Uzbekistan to Moscow, Shikarpur was the gateway of Sindh to the world. And in Shikarpur, it was our Hindu trader community that started the system of payments through cheques. Home to poets like Sheikh Ayaz, this city has produced seers and litterateurs alongside professionals of the highest quality. Today Shikarpur is determined to fight extremism more than ever.

Continue reading BAAGHI: Sindh fights back in Shikarpur

Is the military establishment of Pakistan thinking to sack the elected civilian government?

The language of the analysis is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy » Geo Tv (Khabarnaak with Aftab Iqbal – 19th november 2011, part 2)

via » ZemTv » YouTube

Pentagon successfully tests hypersonic flying bomb

By AFP

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Thursday held a successful test flight of a flying bomb that travels faster than the speed of sound and will give military planners the ability to strike targets anywhere in the world in less than a hour.

Launched by rocket from Hawaii at 1130 GMT, the “Advanced Hypersonic Weapon,” or AHW, glided through the upper atmosphere over the Pacific “at hypersonic speed” before hitting its target on the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, a Pentagon statement said.

Kwajalein is about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii. The Pentagon did not say what top speeds were reached by the vehicle, which unlike a ballistic missile is maneuverable.

Scientists classify hypersonic speeds as those that exceed Mach 5 — or five times the speed of sound — 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers) an hour. …

Read more » Google