U.S. State Department’s Spokesperson Victoria Nuland “officially” states that there is a “human rights issue” in Balochistan

U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland answers questions submitted to the Department’s 10 official Twitter feeds during a Twitter Q&A at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on January 13, 2012.

» YouTube

U.S. Consul General William Martin says “I cherish my friendships with the people of Sindh and will always carry a piece of Sindh in my heart.”

US diplomat calls for removal of misunderstandings

By News Desk

US Consul General William Martin urged the Pakistani-Americans in attendance at a convention here on Saturday to “tell your Pakistani friends of your experience as Muslims in the United States”. “There is just too much misunderstanding of the United States here in Pakistan, as there is too much misunderstanding of Pakistan in the United States. We can begin to change those misperceptions. So please speak up. Your voices resonate here in Sindh,” he said in his remarks at the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) convention. Recounting his recent visit to a new Islamic centre and a mosque in southern California, Martin spoke about freedom of religion in his country. He said, “I cherish my friendships with the people of Sindh and will always carry a piece of Sindh in my heart.” The consul general commended the work that Sana had done for flood relief and supporting education in Sindh. He addressed the importance of trade and commercial ties between Pakistan and the US, and urged the protection and advancement of women’s rights. “When women lift themselves up, their families, their communities, and their countries benefit. Girls must be able to learn, study, participate without fear.” He also called upon the participants to condemn the practice of bonded labour in Sindh. “Through your voices, we can bring public awareness of this scourge, so lives will be saved and a better future will emerge for those who live at the edge of the Sindhi economy,” he said. The president of SANA, Dr Valeed Shaikh, who currently resides in Minnesota, invited the consul general to be the chief guest of the convention. SANA has held annual conventions in the US for almost three decades, and Saturday’s event was their second convention here in Sindh. The theme of this year’s convention is “21st Century Sindh: Challenges and Choices’.

Courtesy: The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=87710&Cat=4&fb_ref=.TxJL6wFbDPc.like&fb_source=home_oneline

Dawn: Call the bluff – By Cyril Almeida

Excerpt;

….  if the PPP channelled the spirit of it founder and discovered an audaciousness on which success in power politics is sometimes built, it could sack its tormentor-in-chief, Gen K.

A suicidal move? Perhaps. But on such bets is history made, and unmade.

Let him stay, and a death by a thousand cuts is virtually certain. But maybe he prefers conspiracy to directness because he can’t find it in himself to pull the trigger on a coup. Why not find out?

Nonsense, many may argue. The court won’t let the orders stand. Probably. But a coup by another name is still a coup.

Why not call the bluff and see where the chips fall? History beckons. Live in the present and a miserable fate awaits.

cyril.a@gmail.com

To read complete article » Cyril Almeida

http://www.cyrilalmeida.com/2012/01/15/dawn-call-the-bluff-by-cyril-almeida/

Setting the house in order

By Saroop Ijaz

The difficulty of maintaining a pretence of conducting a profound analysis in Pakistan is that nothing ever ends. So the event one seeks to comment on is always underway hence, exposing the commentator to the real possibility of indignity in misinterpreting the happenings. The mayhem of the last few days is not over yet. It does, however, point out the fragility and precariousness of this architecture of democracy. It is almost as if this period of democratic governance is a momentary armistice, a feebly vulnerable interruption to the continuous military rule. Another disturbingly striking thing is the complete abandonment of core principles on the first sight of attack. In all fairness, none of this is unprecedented but it manages to make one cringe every time.

The prime minister is empowered to terminate the contract of a federal secretary and to comment on the conduct of the army and intelligence chief and for this reason it is hardly news worthy enough of interrupting the nation in frenzied tones. There has been some feeing of triumphalism and jubilation on being able to thwart or possibly delay a coup. Perhaps rightly so, yet the most recent episode is unique in the public manner in which the whole episode was conducted. Gone are the days where out of the blue, one will see a pompous general creeping out of nowhere and saying ‘meray aziz humwatanon’ on national television. This time, the intimidation and bullying was deliberately done in the full view of the public eye, the ISPR press release cautioning of “dire consequences” had the unmistakable slant of blackmail. The utter absence of embarrassment was unbelievable. It was like being subjected to the ISPR version of O J Simpson’s, “If I did it.” The response by the media and the politicians failed to ask the most basic question; did the ISPR posses any justification, legal or moral to threaten an elected parliament. Toni Morrison, once writing about the progress of African Americans in the United States said, “The question is whether our walk is progress or merely movement.” All this coming after four years of democratic rule, ours seems to be an awkward stationary wiggle.

If one is compelled to identify a positive coming out of this fiasco, it will probably be the fact that most of the media and major political parties refused to welcome the khakis. I have a mild suspicion that many of them did it grudgingly; it was the sheer impracticality of a ‘direct’ military takeover which guided their comments as opposed to any meaningful commitment to democracy. In any event, they merit whatever small congratulation is due. Nevertheless, whereas, it is a ridiculously easy and even intuitive question when asked to choose between an elected parliament and the khakis, I believe the real test lies ahead and not so far ahead. It would be if the same demagoguery is garbed in an intervention obtained through a judicial order or some other permutation of what has been somewhat suggestively named, ‘soft coup’. I have a feeling, the response by those agreeing to the abstract notions of democracy in such an event would be more of a waffle and exposing — I certainly hope I am wrong.

The prime minister has already formed the undesirable habit of displaying almost schizophrenic alternating bouts of gallantry and meekness. The ostensible reason is to avoid institutional conflict. It is not a ‘conflict’, it is capitulation in the face of assault, certainly not self-preservation in any long-term meaning. A lot of ink has been spilled (or at least the word processor equivalent) on how to set the civil-military balance incrementally right by people having considerably more expertise on such matters than myself. Yet, the answer to me, at least, is fairly simple. The prime minister should sack the army chief and the director general ISI for gross misconduct and insubordination. To put it at its harshest, their performance records, especially recently have been humiliatingly ordinary. Even otherwise, they cannot claim to be not given a fair innings, they have served, perhaps more accurately commanded for a period reasonably exceeding the normal. In any event, they have considerably overstayed their welcome. I know this proposal seems incredibly naïve even reckless, but I am afraid that needs to be done, even if it means staking the government on it. To romanticise it a bit, “Conscientious Objector” is a beautiful poem by Edna St Vincent Millay, some of its verses go,” I shall die, but/ that is all I shall do for Death/ I hear him leading his horse out of the stall/ I hear the clatter on the barn-floor/ ….But I will not hold the bridle/While he clinches the girth/ And he may mount by himself / I will not give him a leg up.”

I do not in any way suggest a literal scenario as terminally grim as that in the poem but Mr Prime Minister, at least, do not give them a leg up. Trying to maintain a wobbly equilibrium, a false feeling of reconciliation and shallow coexistence will not work, it never has, never does. In terms of basic economics, it is the case of Gresham’s law, the bad would drive out the good, if it is overvalued long enough with a clear preference. Negotiating or plea bargaining the way in and out of situations where you are strong-armed is not survival or diplomacy. It has now become a question of modalities and timing, rather than “if”. Stories both in real life and fiction are remembered inordinately by the ending. Albert Camus ends his La Peste (The Plague) by observing that though the plague was over and the city had returned to normalcy, “the plague bacillus never dies … that it can lie dormant in furniture and linen chests… perhaps the day would come when,… it roused up its rats again and sent them forth to die in a happy city”. Fire the two generals and make a point, the bogus feeling of security is going to end soon anyways.

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/321514/setting-the-house-in-order/

Institute for Defence Studies & Analysis (idsa) – Pakistan Military’s Desire to Slip Into The Driving Seat Once Again

By P. K. Upadhyay

Excerpt;

Some very strange developments seem to be unfolding in Pakistani politics. A political dogfight between the civilian and military leaderships has been unheard off in the country’s history so far. The generals never had to air their differences with the political masters in the public as they are doing at present. When faced with a ‘defiance’ of their writ at any stage, the generals have always taken over power after booting-out the civilian government. …..

…. Then why this time around is General Kayani not able to push out the President and Prime Minister ….

….. Nawaz Sharief’s efforts to fish in troubled waters as also to move closer to the Army’s position on ‘Memogate’ ….

….. It was clear that the Army was reluctant to assume power and, at the same time, also reluctant to let the Zardari-led PPP government continue. It appears to have chosen the judicial route to hound out the government. Apparently, a deal between the Army and the Chief Justice of Pakistan allowed not just a renewed focus on the old National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) cases against Zardari and others, but also the setting up of a four-judge judicial enquiry into Memogate ….

…. Why is this unprecedented and uncharacteristic spat between the Army and the civilian government continuing? Apparently, the United States is a factor. Although, for the record, the US Administration and Pentagon had dismissed the memo to Mullen, they seem to have quietly acted on it by heavily leaning on the Pakistan Army. Despite the recent breakdown in their relationship, the US military still has a considerable hold over the Pakistan Army …..

…. Why is this unprecedented and uncharacteristic spat between the Army and the civilian government continuing? Apparently, the United States is a factor. Although, for the record, the US Administration and Pentagon had dismissed the memo to Mullen, they seem to have quietly acted on it by heavily leaning on the Pakistan Army. Despite the recent breakdown in their relationship, the US military still has a considerable hold over the Pakistan Army in the form of continuing supply of spares and other vital equipment, apart from training and intelligence cooperation. The Americans could have conveyed to Kayani and company that ousting the civilian regime in a coup would mean a total break in links, including the supply of spares and other wherewithal. The Pakistan Army cannot resist this pressure, since without using US supplied armour and attack helicopters, it cannot continue its operations against the Taliban in FATA or the Baluchi rebels in Baluchistan. Another inhibiting factor for Kayani and his generals could be the extent of penetration of the Army by jehadi elements. For sometime now, there appears to be a lull in clashes between Islamic radicals and the Army. While a let-up in US drone strikes (after the handing over of the Shamsi airbase) appears to be a significant facilitating factor for this lull, it cannot be the key trigger for it. The possibility of a JUI (F) brokered truce between the Army and Taliban should not be ruled out. The Army wants to preserve this truce for the present and, therefore, is reluctant to rock the boat by staging a coup at this juncture. It possibly fears that in case it ousts the Zardari government and becomes all powerful, that may have some destabilizing impact on the current truce with the Taliban. Lastly, Kayani and other senior generals may still not be out of the shock they suffered from the violent outbursts of junior officers after the Abbottabad raid. They recognize that the younger lot of Pakistan Army Officers does not come from traditional sections of the society known for its contempt for ‘civilians’ and their ways. These officers are the off-spring of former JCOs/NCOs of the military, as also the urban middle and lower middle classes, and may be harbouring a strong antipathy towards the bourgeois attitudes of their superiors.

This, however, does not mean that Kayani and company are going to let the Zardari-Gilani combine continue to spite them. Army backed judicial action against the regime is a strong possibility. ….

To read complete article » Institute of Defence Studies & Analysis (idsa)

http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/PakistanMilitaryDesiretoSlipIntoTheDrivingSeatOnceAgain_PKUpadhyay_130112

Must watch interview – Political activist, writer, and the author of “Chasing a Mirage” Tarek Fatah Blasts on the military-judicial establishment

Political activist, writer, broadcaster and the author of “Chasing a Mirage” Tarek Fatah Blasts on the military-judicial establishment in “Bilatakalluf TV” with Tahir Gora. The language of the interview is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Rawal Tv (Bilatakalluf with Tahir Gora)

Lawyers can do little if judiciary bent upon sending govt home: Asma

By Rana Yasif

Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir continues her criticism of the judiciary.

LAHORE: Continuing her criticism of the judiciary, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir has said that there is little that lawyers can do if the institution is poised to send the government packing. “It is difficult to run a government if civilian institutions cooperate with the establishment,” said Jahangir ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Shaikh Rasheed’s views about the top judge Iftikhar chaudhry

This interview was aired on Business Plus TV in 2008. Conducted by Syed Ammar Yasir Zaidi.The language of the interview  is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Business Plus Tv » YouTube