Tag Archives: Asif

Why all the responsibility for all problems is being put upon President Zardari?

– Tausif Kamal

If Zardari is forced out before his term it would be the beginning of the end of our nascent restoration of democracy. I’m no supporter of PPP or Zaradari but why all the responsibility for all the country’s problems is being heaped upon one man, who has been in , power’ (whatever that means ) for not even two years.

If anybody has to go down, its “K”. He’s directing an inept war in slow motion against the enemy, Talibans/ Jihadists. Under his command GHQ has been attacked… Talibans are murdering and terrorizing the citizens of the country at will.

It has taken many years or indeed decades for the existential and debilitating problems of Taliban/ Jihadist terrorism, Baluchistan insurgency and the dead-end state of the economy to germinate and develop. They did not come about overnight. Its obvious that the reactionary forces in Pakistan, the Islamist parties like JI, right wing media and groups , pro-military establishment etc are spearheading a campaign to remove Zardari, to sidestep the PPP govt and to grab power themselves. Eventually such a move will derail whatever democracy we have. Since nurturing democracy in Pakistan is the core agenda of CRDP we all should be concerned about this possibly destructive move and I suggest that we take some action.

Courtesy: – CRDP, Nov 13, 2009

The NRO judgment cannot be all about the evil in President Asif Ali Zardari.

Flaws in the judgment – By Asma Jahangir

Courtesy: Dawn.com

The Supreme Court (SC) has spoken and the nation must bow its head. The chief justice has asked members of the bar to pray for the judiciary. This too must be respected, as the Almighty alone can rescue those who wish to destroy themselves.

There is open friction between the ruling party and the court. By not restoring the SC judges earlier and letting Justice Dogar run amok with the law, the government lost face.

Continue reading The NRO judgment cannot be all about the evil in President Asif Ali Zardari.

High Court issues notice to Asif Zardari in dual office case

LHC issues notice to Asif Zardari in dual office case

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday issued a notice to President Asif Ali Zardari during the hearing in the dual office case.

The legal challenge to Zardari over his two posts does not pose an immediate threat to the president but it is a reminder of the legal difficulties he faces, legal analysts said.

The Pakistan Lawyers Forum (PLF) filed a petition, or a challenge, questioning the right of the president to hold the two offices and in response, the High Court in the city of Lahore ordered Zardari’s principal secretary to explain.

“Since the president could not appear because of security reasons, the court asked his principal secretary to appear in court on May 25,” PLF president A.K. Dogar told reporters outside the court.

There is no constitutional bar on the president holding office in a political party but Dogar said the Supreme Court had in the past barred a president from holding a party post.

“Our Supreme Court judges decided in 1993 that the president should be non-partisan. He should not involve himself in political battles. He should shun politics but here he is a party head, which is illegal,” he said.

Hearing in the dual office case was then adjourned till May 27.

Monday, 17 May, 2010

Courtesy: daily dawn

Source: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-lhc-zardari-notice-qs-09

Bibi’s Murder and The Establishment

by Mohammad Ali Mahar, Austin, TX

Current hoopla about Gen. Nadeem Ejaz being questioned regarding the murder of Benazir Bhutto, and accusations of his involvement in the murder of Bugti and terrorizing/ torturing other politicians, makes it look as though Ejaz is the only serving ‘establishment’ officer in the history of the country to have resorted to the vicious antics.

Hamida Ghangro, the wife of Shaheed Nazir Abbasi, and all the other evidence presented so far, have been pointing at Brig. Billa, for mercilessly torturing Abbasi to death during Zia’s dark days. Has there been any action against him? Not even a suo moto action from the ‘independent’ judiciary. Not only does the murderer Brigadier enjoy the complete immunity, he is free to insult our intelligence via establishment- sponsored TV talk shows. Na mudaee na shahadat hisaab paak hua – yeh khoon-i-khaak nasheenan thaa rizk-i-khaak hua…..

Those hoping to see Gen. Nadeem and others murderers/ collaborator of Ms. Bhutto’s assassination from within the ‘establishment’ taken to task, must not forget that in the land of the pure, even a petty captain is free to commit any crime he wants with complete impunity.

Does anyone know if any action, even after the change in the army command, has been taken against Captain Hammad, involved in the rape of a lady doctor in Sui, Baluchistan?

Courtesy: Sindh e-lists, May 06, 2010

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

by: Omar Ali

Is this a sign of increasing desperation in the premier spy agency+ Jihad crowd because they are losing control of the country?

I ask because obviously in the good old days, they did not have to ask the people to rise up and sweep away “crooked democracy” because they had already done the sweeping away. Today, President Zardari and ..his team and the Sharifs and MQM and ANP are all living IN Pakistan. They do not have control over the security establishment, but they are not totally powerless either. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Courtesy: CRDP, Jan 3, 2010

A military coup in Pakistan?

Restive generals represent the backers of the Taliban and al-Qaeda – bad news for the war next door.

by: Tarek Fatah

Courtesy:  Globe and Mail

A military coup is unfolding in Pakistan, but, this time, there is no rumbling of tanks on the streets of Islamabad. Instead, it seems the military is using a new strategy for regime change in Pakistan, one that will have adverse consequences for Western troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Continue reading A military coup in Pakistan?

Who will live in new coastal city of Sindh? Why should rural Sindh suffer?

Who will live in new coastal city of Sindh? Why must rural Sindh suffer?

[Translator’s note – The recent article by Naseer Memon, pulished in Sindhi daily Kawish provides a comprehensive account of the rural-urban disparity and how this disparity can be narrowed. Reproduced below is an English translations of this article along with minor additional notes added for the sake of clarity.]

by: Naseer Memon, Translation by: Khalid Hashmani, McLean

The disparity of economic conditions between rural areas and few urban centers in Sindh continues to grow further as the present government remains oblivious to the problems of rural areas. In this backdrop, many questions are being raised in Sindh about the recent announcement by President Asif Zardari that a new city called Zulfiqarabad will be build between near Karachi. The noted social scientist and development specialist, SaeeN Naseer Memon has written a timely comprehensive article with convincing arguments that the government should put emphasis on improving existing decaying small cities and towns of Sindh instead of wasting resources on building a new city. The key take aways from this comprehensive article based on astonishing facts and figures are as follows:

Continue reading Who will live in new coastal city of Sindh? Why should rural Sindh suffer?

Opinion- Why Sindh is not part of celebrations of Nawaz sharif revolution?- by K.M. Kolachi

BY K. M. KOLACHI

Nawaz Sharif is against Mushrraf and was not ready even to talk and compromise with him. He wanted Mushraf to be ousted at earliest but Mr Nawaz Sharif could not manage such long march during the tenure of Mushraf. In my view this long march was made successful by hidden forces to convey message to USA that Zaradari has no free hand and can be made under pressure any time. In the situation when March appeared to be getting forceful USA came to compromise by accepting Chief Justice .This is not first time that USA has compromised to keep Pakistan as partner in war on terrorism. Before this unaccounted supply of money, recent favor to help Pakistan in getting loan from IMF and also soft attitude on the time of recent dispute between India and Pakistan are more examples of compromise by USA.

Although there is no declaration of any agreement but the indication in press are very clear that matter of Chief Justice was resolved as result of an agreement whereby chief justice will not touch missing peoples issues. In this way the interests of Zardari and USA has been taken care of. On the other hand when Chief Justice has accepted some conditions how he will be able to retain his title of totally neutral. In my view it was play between the strong lobbies within boundry and each of them know their limits.

Pakistani press, anti Sindhi elements and establishment has been making propaganda against Sindhis and has always been considering them hurdle. As result of long propaganda Punjabi and Urdu speaking brothers have same approach for Sindhis. Since Bhutto was Sindhi and peoples party is some times hurdle being united platform of majority Sindhis every one who will be in better position in PPP may it be Zardari or other will be criticized by those lobbies. As result of that propaganda it has become fashion to talk against Zardari. We want him to take all decisions on merit ignoring the powerful factor in country and international forces. The article of Dr. Manzoor Aijaz few days ago on Zardari also seems to be under same approach and fashion and this too has been focused on limited areas under specific purpose. As referred in article that it was political wisdom of Nawaz Sharif that he came to lead the issue. Look at his wisdom in recent past when he two times decided to boycott elections. Once BiBi and other time Zardari convinced him to change the decisions. Where he had been politically if he had boycotted the election.

March 20, 2009

Zardari fifth Sindhi target of Nawaz’s rebellion

by G. N. Mughul

The Frontier Post

KARACHI: It is interesting to note that President Asif Ali Zardari, is fifth Sindhi, holding a vital position in the set-up of Pakistan, against whom PML(N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif rebelled all along his political career since 1988 till today due to one reason or the other.

The first victim of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s style of politics was soft spoken Sindhi Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo. Junejo was dismissed as Prime Minister of Pakistan by the then Military dictator Gen. Zia ul Haq after an enquiry ordered by the then Prime Minister Junejo in to the causes of the famous Ojhri Camp explosion against the wishes of the Military dictator. When Mohammad Khan Junejo was removed from the office of Prime Minister, he also held the office of President, Muslim League. It was early 1988. At that time Mian Nawaz Sharif was attached with Punjab Government and was rather President Muslim League Punjab. At that time Mian Nawaz Sharif used to be known as blue eyed boy of Gen. Jilani and Gen. Zia ul Haq. Immediately after the removal of Mohammad Khan Junejo as Prime Minister of Pakistan a meeting of the general council of Pakistan Muslim League was called in Lahore. According to the circles close to Junejo group, a majority of those invited to attend the said PML session was recommended by Mian Nawaz Sharif. In this meeting Mohammad Khan Junejo was also removed from the office of the President PML. Afterwards, PML was bifurcated in to two groups viz PML(Junejo group) and PML (anti Junejo group). Hamid Nasir Chattha sided with Junejo and remained with him till the death of Junejo. Afterwards, Junejo group was headed by Hamid Nasir Chattha and with the passage of time Junejo group was renamed as PML(Chattha Group).

The second victim is reported to be

Pir Pagaro. When attempts were made by PML Punjab group headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif to rebel against Pir Pagaro, Pir Pagaro also dissociated from that PML and formed his own group called since then as PML(Functional group). First Secretary General of PML(F) was S. M. Zafar.

In 1988 general elections held after the death of Gen. Zia ul Haq in a plane crash, PPP headed by Benazir Bhutto captured majority of NA seats even in Punjab. At that time Provincial polls used to be held two days after national polls. In the meantime, Nawaz Sharif camp raised the slogan of ” Jag Punjabi Jag – Terey Pag nu lag gaya dagh” and aroused the parochial feelings of the people of Punjab against a Sindhi leader of PP. The said attempt succeeded to the extent that majority Provincial Assembly seats in Punjab were captured by PML(N). As the result, PP formed Government in centre with Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister and PML(N) formed government in Punjab with Mian Nawaz Sharif as Chief Minister.

The later developments bear testimony that Nawaz Sharif’s Punjab Government did not recognize Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan and the then Punjab Government virtually rebelled against PP Government in centre in almost in each field to the extent that whenever Benazir Bhutto, as Prime Minister, visited any area of Punjab she was not provided due protocol by the Punjab Government of Nawaz Sharif.

Courtesy: The Frontier post, March 12, 2009

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=ts&nid=4327

Pakistan in turmoil as court bans ex-PM

Sharif’s backers protest in streets after ruling bars him from office

by Laura King, Los Angeles Times

Islamabad- Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif may well be the most popular politician in Pakistan. So the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday that bans him from holding elected office has set the stage for what could be a bitter show-down between his backers and the already shaky government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Pakistan, which over the past 18 months has seen a grassroot uprising against long-time military leader [Dictator] Pervez Musharraf, the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and then the advent of civilian rule, appears ill-prepared for another prolonged period of political. turmoil. Islamic insurgents are gaining strength, and the economy is virtually on life support from international leaders.

Analysts characterized yesterday’s court ruling as a drawing of battle lines between Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples party and its one time ally, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim league- N. Two parties teamed in Feb 2008 to take on Musharraf, soundly defeating his party in parliamentary elections and ousting him from office six months latter. But having gained power, they fell out with on another.

Sharif’s supporters protested yesterday’s verdict, saying they do not recognize the legitimacy of the court. They repeated demands for the reinstatement of the former chief justice and other senior judges dismissed by Musharraf in late 2007 during a bout of de facto martial law.

“This is mockery of justice, mockery of democracy,” Ahsan Iqbal, senior leader of Sharif’s party, said of the ruling. “The decision has once again pushed Pakistan on the path of political confrontation and political instability.”

The former prime minister’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, was also disqualified by the court from holding office, in effect removing him from his position as chief minister of Punjab, the country’s most populous and affluent province.

Supporters of the Shairf pouredinto the streets of major cities, burning tires and chanting anti government slogans.

A firebrand populist, Sharif returned to Pakistan in late 2007 after nearly eight years in exile, foiling efforts by Musharraf to keep him away. Although Shairf’s party trailed the Pakistan People’s Party in the February 2008 vote, some commentators attributed that to sympathy over the assassination six weeks earlier of Bhutto, Zardari’s wife. Most public opinion polls suggested Sharif’s popularty has now eclipsed Zardari’s.

—-

Our source of above article Thursday, Feb 26, 2009, Toronto Star, page A13.

Democracy is the best revenge

By Mumtaz Langah, Edmonton

Congratulations to all those friends to believe in democracy and respect the authority of elected parliament. All assemblies have voted and elected Asif Ali Zardari. Great credit goes to Sindh Assembly where Mr. Zardari’s opponents got zero votes. This is a great slap on the face of beauracracy and establishment. This a matter of proud that after Shaheed Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari has become elected President of Pakistan who is a Sindhi leader. Democracy is the best revenge.

Partnering With Pakistan

asif_smileBy Asif Ali Zardari, Islamabad
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan looks forward to a new beginning in its bilateral relationship with the United States. First, we congratulate Barack Obama and the country that had the character to elect him, and we welcome his decision to name a special envoy to Southwest Asia. Appointing the seasoned diplomat Richard Holbrooke says much about the president’s worldview and his understanding of the complexities of peace and stability and the threats of extremism and terrorism. Simply put, we must move beyond rhetoric and tackle the hard problems.

Continue reading Partnering With Pakistan

Zardari government

Zardari given enough rope to hang himself

WASHINGTON: The one question that I am repeatedly asked by everyone, believing that I have been quite close to Asif Ali Zardari during his days of self-exile and forced expulsion from politics for many years, is how long he and his government will survive. It is hard to answer this very loaded and complex question almost on a daily basis, especially when people think everyone who comes to Washington from Pakistan knows something more than they do. So I have decided to pen down my answer. My considered opinion is that the present Zardari-led set-up will not last long as it has been structured on a wrong and distorted political premise as result of which the key players who have emerged as main power wielders were never in the picture, neither of Benazir Bhutto’s PPP, which actually got the votes and won the seats in the February 18 elections, nor anyone else. And these new players have failed to establish their political legitimacy and moral authority through their actions after coming to power.

These power players do not have any political ideology, they do not believe in the established principles of democracy and parliamentary process enshrined in the constitution and most important of all, they do not have a following among the masses, which is necessary for any political government worth its name.

What has happened is that in extraordinary turbulent circumstances, the Zardari Group of the PPP has taken over the party, out-manoeuvring the others through opportunities created by circumstances followed up cleverly by a web of deceit, chicanery and in some specific cases simple lies and cheating. Taking full advantage, Zardari formed a group of his cronies who had nothing to do with the PPP or its politics for years. Who could imagine that Rehman Malik, Farooq Naek, Babar Awan, Salman Farooqi, Husain Haqqani, Hussain Haroon, Dr Asim, Dr Soomro, Riaz Laljee, Siraj Shamsuddin, Zulfikar Mirza, Agha Siraj Durrani and many other smaller but tainted friends and associates of Mr Zardari would suddenly take over every important position and start calling the shots?

The above statements may seem bold, and to some, outrageous, but each one of these statements can be substantiated with specific and undeniable examples and proof. Of course Zardari and his cronies will deny this, screaming from every rooftop that he is genuine and represents the people’s will. But does, or will, anyone believe him?

To begin with, in the chaos that followed Benazir’s death, Asif Ali Zardari took over the party (PPP), the government, the parliament, the presidency and the judiciary. That was some achievement but the way he did it angered friends and foes alike. That is why he has been grappling with an enormous trust deficit, both domestically and abroad.

Has any prime minister who was elected unanimously or a president who secured a two-thirds majority ever looked so insecure that he had to repeatedly use questionable tactics to get his way through? Why is it that despite such strong support in parliament, he is working overtime every day to keep and tighten his hold on those state institutions not yet under his thumb – like the ISI, the Pakistan Army and some parts of the media?

His attempt to take over the ISI were foiled but he was asking for too much, too early. But given his nature, he will try again to control not just the ISI, but will also try to stuff the superior courts with Jiyala judges loyal to him and, if he gets the chance for which he will try his best, he will try to stuff the top Army hierarchy with his loyal generals.

This is where Mr Zardari will be stopped. That point may come as quickly as he tries to grab power. So in a way his own survival is in his own hands. But knowing Mr Zardari, I can predict he cannot stop himself. The unfortunate fact is that he cannot fathom what the judges movement has done to the body politic of the country and he cannot imagine what transformation the media has brought in the thinking of every man and woman in the country. He still lives in the ‘90s and cannot come out of that syndrome.

Step by step he has dismantled every pillar that Benazir Bhutto had painstakingly tried to build to strengthen politicians vis-a-vis the generals. In the many years that he was in New York, I never heard him discuss the Charter of Democracy or why the powers of the president should be cut. He would always discuss either some business deal or how he had outclassed other politicians in petty whimsical games. He never talked about any vision of a grand politically stable and strong Pakistan.

The illusion that he has become stronger than General Musharraf thus cannot make him a visionary overnight. As I know him, he is capable only to use these powers for his personal survival and security. But when an all-powerful Musharraf made mistakes, none of his powers could rescue him. Zardari has started by committing blunders.

He has survived so far because people expected a change and had to give him time. The safe window of opportunity that had opened up with the PPP victory was his safety valve, but for how long? He started when everyone wanted to give him time. Instead of building on that reservoir of sympathy, support and hope he has gone back on every promise he made publicly.

The 10 biggest blunders that will ultimately take him down can be listed as follows, though the full list may be too long:

1. Failure to show any enthusiasm to track down Benazir’s killers. The mysterious and tragic apathy shown by him towards her assassination is a sore in every heart. The top PPP leadership every evening sits in cosy drawing rooms and speaks in derisory language about what he is doing and how.

2. Failure to support the judiciary sacked by Musharraf and adopting a hostile attitude towards Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. He lost the chance to build grand support.

3. Unnecessary and grossly counter-productive support shown for Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

4. Failure to make any move towards repealing the 17th Amendment and strengthening parliament. In fact, he has taken the system to a super-presidential model with a prime minister now cribbing regularly about his lack of powers.

5. Betraying his political coalition partners by refusing to follow the Charter of Democracy and cheating them with false promises.

6. Opening himself and his party to blackmail by smaller coalition parties to an extent that the entire government has become a hostage, thus unable to take any major initiative.

7. Boasting about his capacity to get economic and financial aid from the so-called friends of Pakistan, making repeated visits to world capitals and finally, opting for the most damaging and least acceptable option of going to the IMF, thus admitting failure.

8. Keeping petty political bickering alive in Punjab through a nonsensical presence of Governor Salman Taseer, a Musharraf appointee.

9. Turning into a widely disliked person in Pakistan within months by letting Musharraf go scot-free and adopting all his sins and drawbacks.

10. Humiliating and then forcing loyal PPP leaders into submission.

No one is yet ready to destabilise the current political set-up and Mr Zardari has been given a rope, in fact a longish rope, obviously to hang himself with. What worries me is that he has not proved himself competent to rise to the occasion, has shown no urge or capacity to grow into the huge shoes that he so suddenly finds himself in and somehow he does not envision the broader canvas of politics and lives with all the fears and insecurities of the era of the ‘90s and his days of captivity. Thus he is using the rope with intense energy to tie himself up in knots and form a noose around his neck.

If all the above answer the question how long will he last, the next universal question everybody asks is: how will he be removed as he has all the numbers?

This is an easy question to answer. By his acts Mr Zardari has not endeared himself to anyone in the 10 months of his rule. The initial honeymoon with the PML-N apart, now his own party is on the brink of imploding. December 27 will be a crucial date. How and on what issue the party cracks up is moot, but pressure from the opposition, a wink from the right quarters and one major blunder by Zardari is all it will take. It took an all-powerful Musharraf not even a few weeks to go down; Zardari is just learning the tricks to survive. After all the humiliation, what are BB loyalists like Aitzaz Ahsan doing in the PPP?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Courtesy: TheNews.com

Source – http://www.thenews.com.pk/print3.asp?id=19211

Benazir’s First Anniversary

Fighting militancy best way to pay tributes to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

Islamabad December 26, 2008: PPP Co-Chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the best way to pay tributes to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was to follow in her footsteps in fighting militancy and extremism and not to surrender before bigots who wanted to capture political power through bullet and impose their own world view on the people. He said this in a message today commemorating the first martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who, along with several party workers, was killed in a terror attack in Rawalpindi on December 27 last year.

“Those who laid down their lives for democracy and fighting the forces of militancy and extremism are our national heroes and heroines. They sacrificed their lives so our people could live in freedom and dignity”.

“She gave voice to the voiceless, strength to the weak and motivated workers and the people to strive for a goal higher than life. It is a measure of her greatness that ordinary people who came in contact with her became extraordinary. ”

Shaheed Mohtarma Bhutto was fully aware of the dangers to her life yet she had decided to return home to fight for the restoration of Pakistan’s place in the community of democratic nations, he said. “In the tradition of a true Bhutto she faced certain death rather than abandon her principles or the people.”

The attack on her was not an attack on one individual, he said. “It was an attack on the viability of the state and for undermining the efforts to build democratic structures for fighting militancy”. The tyrants and the killers have killed her but they shall never be able to kill her ideas that drove and inspired a generation to lofty ideals, the President said.

The recent events of militancy in the region bring to mind the words of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto “the fundamental battle in Pakistan was for the hearts and minds of a generation against fanaticism and extremism and that this battle can be won only under democracy”, the PPP Co-Chairman said and asked the democratic forces to rededicate themselves to fighting militancy and extremism by strengthening democratic institutions..

Militancy flourished in the country when dictatorship flourished giving rise to hopelessness that created the desperation that fueled religious extremism, he said. ..

December 27, 2008

Real target of Mumbai terrorists is to destroy Pakistani peace bid

by Tarek Fatah

Only time will tell whether these Islamists succeed or whether the good people of India–Hindus and Muslims –can see through this provocation and embrace the hand of friendship extended by Zardari.

The mayhem in Mumbai had barely subsided when I received the first e-mail suggesting the terrorist attacks had been carried out by agents of Mossad–Israel’s military intelligence- -masquerading as Islamic terrorists to give Muslims a bad name. Alex James of Toronto forwarded a news item claiming, “India’s Internal Security Police are now holding and questioning an identified Israeli Mossad agent, who had been in communication with some of the alleged terrorists in India two weeks before the BLACK OP attacks took place.”

As ridiculous as this may sound, chances are countless Muslims are deluding themselves into believing that it is not their co-religionists who are responsible for the savagery let loose on India, but some hidden hand that is part of a U.S.-Zionist conspiracy against Islam.

If there was an intelligence agency whose fingerprints can be spotted all over the crime scene, it appears to be Islamist rogue elements from the .., hell-bent on disrupting a marked improvement in India’s relations with neighbouring Pakistan. For two decades, the ISI has been the de facto government in Pakistan, toppling regimes, aiding the Taliban, giving cover to al-Qaeda fugitives and running a business empire worth billions of dollars.

In July, the new democratically elected government in Islamabad led by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) attempted to bring the ISI under civilian control, but under threat of a military coup, had to perform a humiliating about-face within 24 hours.

Then last Sunday, Pakistan’s foreign minister announced the political wing of the ISI that was responsible for rigging elections and blackmailing politicians had been disbanded, saying, “The ISI is a precious national institution and wants to focus on counterterrorism activities.” It seems the foreign minister had spoken too soon. Within hours of his announcement, the BBC reported that an unnamed senior security official had contradicted the statement.

While the ISI-PPP tussle for control of the country’s intelligence network was going on behind the scenes, on Tuesday, the president of Pakistan, Asif Zardari, threw a bombshell that caught the Pakistan military establishment off guard. Speaking to an Indian TV audience, Zardari announced a strategic shift in Pakistan’s nuclear policy. He startled a cheering Indian audience, saying Pakistan had adopted a “no-first-strike” nuclear-war policy. This apparently did not go down well within Pakistan’s military establishment that has ruled the country for decades using the “Indian bogey” to starve the nation of much-needed development investment in order to put the huge military machine on a permanent war footing with no war in sight. Immediately, the military commentators denounced Zardari.

Zardari also borrowed a quote from his late wife, who once said there’s a “little bit of India in every Pakistani and a little bit of Pakistan” in every Indian. “I do not know whether it is the Indian or the Pakistani in me that is talking to you today,” Zardari said.

While most Pakistanis welcomed the new air of peace and friendship, the country’s religious right was upset.

Just a month ago, the founder of one of Pakistan’s most feared armed Islamist groups had accused Zardari of being too dovish toward India, and criticized him for referring to militants in Indian-held Kashmir as “terrorists.” Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT),a major militant group fighting in Indian Kashmir, described Zardari’s comments as “a clear violation and digression from the consistent policy of Pakistan.”Then Wednesday, the so-called “Deccan Mujahedeen” struck against India with the clear aim of triggering a Hindu backlash against the country’s minority Muslims, with the obvious danger to Pakistan-India relations.

Most security commentators agree the Deccan Mujahedeen is merely a tag of convenience and that behind this well-planned terror attack lies the secret hands of the LeT. The same LeT that had warned Zardari to desist from warming up to India.

Only time will tell whether these Islamists succeed or whether the good people of India–Hindus and Muslims –can see through this provocation and embrace the hand of friendship extended by Zardari.

In the meantime, Muslims around the world will also have to decide whether to enter the 21st century and distance themselves from the doctrine of armed jihad, or embrace these haters of joy and peace.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tarek Fatah is author of Chasing A Mirage: The Tragic illusion of an Islamic State (Wiley).

Courtesy : The Calgary Herald

Source – http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/theeditorialpage/story.html?id=6e142936-e33f-4e0a-9bb0-4d4b183daa7c

Washington DC Discussion on “Baloch and Sindhi rights”

By Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

The following are my notes and impressions from the discussion on “Sindhi and Baluch Rights” held in Washington DC yesterday.

Key Take-aways from Washington DC Discussion on “Baluch and Sindhi rights” held on September 27.

Washington DC, September 27, 2008: The American Friends of Baluchistan, a local organization of Baluch rights and their supporters, organized a discussion on “Baloch and Sindhi struggle for rights with Asif Ali Zardari’s rise to the presidency”. The event was held at a local restaurant on Saturday, September 27, 2008.

The organizer Mr. Ahmar Mustikhan welcomed participants, who introduced themselves and briefly stated their expectations from the discussion session. On a point raised by Dr. Jawaid Bhutto that the focus of the discussion should not be on one or more individuals but rather on the root causes and solutions, every one agreed to broaden the subject and not limit the discussion to only the context of Zardari’s ascend to the Presidency of Pakistan.

Dr. Safdar Sarki (http://www.pakusonl ine.com/page. aspx?page_ id=57), General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) (http://www.geocitie s.com/jeaysindh_ org/press. html) stated that he and his party are not against any individuals. They are only against the actions taken by individuals that suppress rights of Sindhis and Baluch. Pressing his point about the unfair treatment being melted out to Sindhis, he said that Sindh produces 60% of gas, 40% of oil, and 67% of revenue in Pakistan and yet receives back only 23% of benefits for this contribution. He said that in the last few decades, the successive Pakistani governments have treated Sindh and Sindhis with discrimination and attempted to make them happy with peanuts and lollipops. He asserted that 1973 constitution has lost its credibility and validity as none of the provisions for provincial equitability has been acted upon. He said, “An example of this is that concurrent lists were supposed to have been abolished within 10 years but after 35 years, many more provincial rights have been encroached and put in the constitution. The new “social contract” that Mohtarama Bhutto talked about had much to do with enshrining the principles of the 1940 resolution. Nothing short of a new constitutional setup where the main legislative body has equal number of seats from each province would be acceptable.

Dr. Wahid Baluch, http://intellibrief s.blogspot. com/2006/05/balochistan-drwahid-baloch- for.html, former Deputy Speaker of Baluchistan Assembly and President of Baloch Society Of North America (BSO-NA) USA (http://www.bso-na.org/index. html) said, “We know Mr. Zardari has no real power as in spite of his assurances, the war still continues to be wedged against Baluch.” He added “We look at the positive side and are hopeful that some positive results would result from Mr. Zardari’s presidency. It is more probable that only some cosmetic changes would come about during his rule and the root causes will remain unresolved.” Giving an account of his recent meetings with the US officials, he said that he sees hopeful signs of some understanding about the Baluch point of view. He said that it US officials are quite uneasy that after 10 billion financial assistance to Pakistan, there is very little evidence that Taliban and Al-Qaida have been weakened. If anything they appear to have become much stronger and are now pose a very serious risk to Pakistan’s stability.

Mr. Amir Baloch, a local Baluch leader expressed that he was not very optimistic of any positive results and said that so far, the only tangible results of some improvement are that the wholesale allotment of lands to MQMwallas in Gawadar Sea port has been stopped. He was afraid that that Baluch and Sindhis expereincing a false sense of security and will lower their guards thinking that as a Sindhi of Baluch origin is now in the top position, they can go back to their hibernation.

Mr. Faisal Qazi. a well-known journalist and Chief editor of local Pakistani newspapers Asian Tribune (published in Urdu and English) and Pakistan Journal posed a very interesting question. He said, where as, the National Awami Party, the main nationalist party of Pakhonwa (offical nane NWFP Province) has secured electoral successes in that province, Sindhi and Baloch nationalist parties have not achieved similar successes. Dr. Jawaid Bhutto answered that it is simply the fact PPP is the most popular political party in Sindh and Sindhis have consistently voted for that party in the belief that this party would deliver them their rights.

Mr. Ahmar Mustikhan said that he believes that the main culpirts behind the assassination of Mohtarama Benzar Bhutto are not “fundamentalist” forces but this is a dirty deed of agencies and some Generals. He added that the Benazir Bhutto’s elimination from the poltical scene is a great loss for Sindhi, Baloch, and people of Pakistan. Ms. Nafeesa Hoodbhoy said that it is too simplistic blame security establishment for this crime. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had become too close to USA and USA has many enemies in Pakistan. The fact is that we do not know who killed her. For the same reason, Mr. Zardari too has become the most threatened person in Pakistan.

Mr. Aijaz Sindhi, a local journalist, said that Sindhis are still waiting for the restoration of their rights under the new PPP government. He said that onlaught on Sindhi rights continues. He gave examples of the recent federal actions to privatize Qadirpur gas fields in Sindh http://www.apakista nnews.com/ qadirpur- gas-field- four-options- for-sell- off-referred- to-ccop-81196. and federalizing of the Sindh goal authority in support of his argument. He said that no decisions with respect to Sindh’s natural resources would be acceptable unless representatives of Sindh are participants and primary decision makers. Mr. Khalid Hashmani, a local Sindhi activist, said that Sindhis and Baloch rights groups are still using 20th century tools and techniques to secure their rights in 21st century. They have to take global factors into account and balance nationalistic instincts with the need for developing natural resources and to ensure that the needed help reaches rural populations of Sindh and Baluchistan (where poverty has has become main impediment to education and health services) as soon as possible.

PPP and Zardari

One hopes the president-elect would work with other political forces in the country to strengthen democracy, resolve grievances of smaller provinces, make the country a true federation, solve problems faced by the people, improve economic conditions and safeguard the independence of judiciary and media.

The election of the new president should mark the end of the undemocratic and repressive military dictatorships in the country and herald a new era of peaceful, just and democratic Pakistan that belongs to all its citizens instead of few chosen people or powerful groups.

The newly elected president and the prime minister of Pakistan should immediately restore judiciary to pre-November 3, 2007 position, work with parliamentary groups to amend the Constitution properly to end all the changes made by the dictatorial regimes and grant maximum autonomy to the provinces.

Also a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” should be established to hear complaints of corruption, accesses and criminal, unconstitutional and illegal acts against civilians and military personnel. It is essential that all such cases are addressed to reinforce the trust and the confidence of the people and strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Asif Zardari for President of Pakistan and Sindhi Interests

Candidacy of Asif Zardari for President of Pakistan and Sindhi Interests

By Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

Every one has right to express their opinion about public figures. In a vibrant democracy robust disagreements are not only acceptable but ought to be encouraged, as it is often necessary and right for the development of best course of action. At the same time, sarcasm, summary judgments, heresy, and innuendo, particularly against the chief of the largest party that only few months ago secured overwhelming majority of votes in Pakistan and Sindh is not only unfair but an insult to the people of Sindh. Indeed, Mr. Zardari is a controversial figure in Pakistani politics. However, if one takes a closer look at the facts surrounding the allegations against him, one would realize that almost all of these allegations are pure heresy and driven by anti-PPP and anti-Bhutto sentiment. Even a fair-minded enemy of Mr. Zardari would agree that he has been the central figure in finding solution to peaceful departure of General Musharraf. He has been instrumental in the holding of the coalition government in spite of inflexible attitude of Nawaz Sharif, and has ensured that the voice of smaller provinces is given its due weight in decision-making process. For these reasons, I believe he will be a great President of Pakistan, balancing views of all provinces until constitutional amendments are made to grant provincial autonomy in accordance with the 1940 Resolution and equal seats to each province in the Pakistani Senate.

A recent editorial in The Daily News, one of the largest newspapers in Pakistan, said the following about Mr. Zardari:”. . he is the only man in the political system who can communicate with all the components of it, including the military establishment with whom he has worked out safe passage for General (retted) Pervez Musharraf and with which he needs to work closely on the war on terror in order to keep Washington in the right humor.”

“He has handled the inflexible Mr Nawaz Sharif right by using resilience in the face of the “pledged” party position of the latter on the judges issue.”

A keen observer of Pakistani politics would easily recognize that where as other partners in the coalition (ANP, JUI, and MQM) have largely played as team players in the PPP-led government, PML-N has been playing all kinds of tricks to pull down PPP and discredit its leadership. PML-N has refused to cooperate with PPP in bringing about the necessary constitutional amendments that would restore the deposed justices in an orderly manner. It has played the games of leaving and then re-joining the coalition. This leaves no option for PPP and other coalition partners to ensure that the next President does not have any overt or covert sympathies with Nawaz Sharif and PML-N to dismiss the PPP-led government as happened before to PPP.

The rumor is that PML-N is going to nominate a former justice as President, who opposes the PPP-proposed method of restoring deposed justices. However, simple math tells us that except in Punjab, an overwhelming majority of the legislators in three smaller provinces would vote for Mr. Zardari.

Let us objectively look at the known facts about Mr. Zardari:

FACTS

——-

1. The last government incarcerated Mr. Zardari for more than eight years. They left no stone turned in their attempt to prove that Mr. Zardari had siphoned large sum of monies. They even approached foreign governments and promised to give evidence about his guilt. After spending millions of dollars and taking exceedingly long time, they did not find any evidence and had to set him free.

2. After joining PPP, various anti-PPP governments have charged Mr. Zardari with a litany of bizarre allegations ranging from tying a remote-controlled bomb to the leg of a businessman, murder of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, corruption, kick-backs, and firing on MQM camps. A newspaper quotes Mr. Zardari saying the following about such allegations against him:

“A corrupt person wouldn’t have taken on the establishment, wouldn’t have sacrificed eight years of his life in prison. I could have accepted a deal and got out, and kept them happy — that’s what would have benefited me most.”It must be noted that not a single case of corruption has been proved against him so far.

2. No Pakistani politician with the exception of his father-in-law, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was judicially murdered, has suffered for such a long time in a Pakistani prison3. In spite of several well-documented offers to Mr. Asif Zardari to make a political compromise, Mr. Zardari stood on his ground until the government became tired of hold him in a jail.

4. Many NGO and other impartial observers say that since the PPP government has formed the government, some signs of improved opportunities for Sindhis have started appearing. The Sindhis, who have suffered many years of neglect during the regimes of Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif are beginning to see some hopeful signs for overcoming poverty. In a recent e-mail by Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Halepoto told North American Sindhis that:

“How I can tell you that how things are getting changed here in Pakistan? And especially for/ in Sindh. MQM is exposed, PML-Q ministers are voting in the favor of impeachment, agencies are exposed, and Musharraf is humiliated because of his illegal and unconstitutional conduct. Democratic forces (yes we know it is not an ideal situation) are led by Sindhis.”

POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS IN LAST FEW MONTHS

——

1. Played a central role in convincing the dictator to resign and peacefully resolving one of the major issues of Pakistan that many feared would result in much blood shed. 2. Consistently, Mr. Zardari has showed the Sindhi trait of “Nuiwarat” (humility) by disarming his political opponents with love and forgiveness and avoiding any conflicts. He was instrumental in creating a grand coalition of three largest political parties of

Pakistan representing all four provinces. Using the same traits, he has succeeded in diffusing situation in Sindh, where the racial divide between Sindhis and Mohajirs was fast approaching the boiling point. 3. PPP Government announced permanent shelving of Kala Bagh Dam. The “establishment” had sold this project to the people of Punjab as if constructing this dam was a non-negotiable patriotic duty. No federal politician would speak against the project and yet PPP led by Zardari made the historic decision.

NEGATIVE CONTRIBUTIONS IN LAST FEW MONTHS

——-

1. “Federalization” of Coal Authority. This was an attack on Sindh’s rights that even present centralization- centric constitution does not allow. 2. The apology to MQM that implied as if Sindhis were the only wrong doers even though they were the real victims of terrorism of MQM.

SARCASM, INNUENDO, and HERESY AGAINST MR. ZARDARI

As I said disagreements on political matters are expected and criticism of political figures is a norm. Any allegation or point of view must be supported valid arguments. The sarcasm, innuendo and heresy I see in some e-mails on Mr. Zardari have no place in political discourse.

August 24, 2008

We welcome PPP Govt decision about Kalabagh Dam

If these are firm and resolute decisions, then the people of Sindh welcome the announcements with regard to Kalabagh Dam & Sindh Public Service Commission. We wholeheartedly support it. It is good to celebrate this day of positive announcements by PPP and it is high time when Mr. Zardari, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, Mr Asfandyar Wali and other party leaders should set more realistic goals for increasing the pace of development and justice. Now the coalition Govt will have to address the issues of NFC and provincial autonomy. Otherwise it would be a disappointment that a govt whose main mandate was to change the policies of injustice, unemployment, inflation and oppression, is ignoring the main issues and has been busy in transfers and postings. Once again I would like to congratulate Raja Pervez Ashraf and PPP leadership and would like to forward my earlier mail with a hope that PPP leadership and civil society would plan the strategy to materialize these suggestions, Ayaz Latif Palijo said to media.

Sindh Agenda

1. Formation of Malir, Lyari, Ibrahim Haidry and Gaddap Districts.

2. Resolution for Establishment’s apology for murder of ZA Bhutto,

Akbar Bugti, Nazeer Abbasi, Yousif Jakhrani, Lala Asad, Murtaza Bhutto, Ayaz

Samon, Nawaz Kanrani, shaheeds of Shah Bandar, 12th May, Thoree Phatak and

for all martyrs of MRD operation, Balochistan Operation and Wana operation.

3. Restoration of old Hyderabad district or at least merger of District

Matiyari with Hyderabad.

4. Restoration of rural area seats in DMC and NED.

5. Establishment of students and working women hostels at Karachi,

Quetta, Peshawar and Hyderabad for rural population.

6. After restoration of old Judiciary new merit-based appointments of

indegenious Judges in High Courts and Hon Supreme Court.

7. Issuance of lease to 700 villages in and around Karachi.

8. Opening up educational / employment opportunities for old residents

of Karachi in Kiyamari, Yari, Maleer, Gaddab and launching of projects in

poverty stricken areas like Ibrahim Haidry, Gaddap and Kiyamari .

9. Independent inquiry into the May 12 killings, October 18 and

December 27 blasts..

10. Legislation against illegal immigrants.

11. Legislation for appointment of meritorious rural youth in corporate and

private sector & MNCs.

12. Establishment of new multidisciplinary well equipped general hospitals

in Qasimabad, Gaddap and Gharo.

13. Creation of at least 3 new provincial Assembly and 2 new National

Assembly seats for Qasimabad and Hyderabad rural Taluka on the basis of

genuine population.

14. De-limitation and re-structuring of controversial constituencies in Karachi, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad.

15. Merit based appointment of rural youth in Port Qasim, PIA, Railway,

Water Board, KPT, KESCO, SSGC, KDA, HDA.

16. Enquiry of corruption, out of turn promotions and illegal appointments

of last 8 years.

17. Removal of corrupt politicians, governors and bureaucrats from key

posts.

18. New balanced formula for NFC.

19. New Water accord & termination of Thal Canal project.

20. End of Balochistan operation.

21. Removal of concurrent list and legislation for Sindh’s genuine share

from gas, patrol, coal and port output/income.

22. Re-opening of illegally withdrawn cases against terrorists.

23. Restoration of judiciary and supremacy of law.

24. Removal of all restrictions from the media.

25. Release of all political prisoners and conviction of real assassins of

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, Akbar Khan Bugti and other political leaders and activists.

26. Re-settlement of haree victims of bonded labor jails at specially

allotted areas around Ganjo takkar / Latifabad / Zealpak cement factory in

Hyderabad and in Gaddap, Maleer and University raod of Karachi.

27. Launching of Keti bandar Port and Thar Coal projects.

28. New employment opportunities & controlling inflation and price-hike.

29. Improvement in overall education, health and communication facilities of rural areas.

30. Plan for genuine results in next census.

Meet the ‘new’ Asif Zardari

By Karan Thapar

NEW DELHI- Most people, I believe, grow to fill the responsibility placed on them. Promotions are, therefore, an act of faith. But that said and done I’m flabbergasted by the change in Asif Zardari. He’s literally become a different person.

The Asif I remember was a jovial tease, informal, chatty, fond of the good life and determined not to be boring or even serious. We first met the night after his wedding. “Benazir has told me all about you,” he said with mock gravity. “I’m on my best behaviour!” He then spent the evening pulling my leg and, frequently, his wife’s too. Weeks after Benazir first became prime minister we were together on her special flight from Islamabad to Karachi. It was an aged propeller plane which flew at a sedate speed. Sitting in the prime ministerial drawing room at the front, Asif looked at his watch. We’d been traveling for nearly two hours. “If you’d stuck to PIA not only would you have arrived but you’d be in the hotel pool by now!” I protested I wasn’t in a hurry. “Yeah? Let’s see if you return with us!” I didn’t. The Asif I meet two weeks ago was very different. Now the adjectives I would use are measured, emollient and deliberately self-effacing. Of course, he’s still charming, chatty and can’t resist teasing but there’s new gravitas, a consciousness of responsibility and a convincing sense of wisdom. Consider two examples. I pointed out that Nawaz Sharif would keep the PPP-led government unstable. Benazir’s reply would have been defensive. Asif chose to turn my question on its head. “And I welcome that,” he said. “I need people to keep me in check.”

“You need to be kept in check?” I asked, puzzled. “Power is a tricky thing,” he responded. “What better can I ask for than my own ally should check me?”

It was a winning answer but also utterly unexpected. How many politicians on the brink of power welcome the prospect of being kept uncertain and unstable? Even if he didn’t mean it, it was the perfect thing to say. However, it wasn’t just fluent cleverness that made Asif so engagingly different. He also showed vision and courage. When I asked about Kashmir and the role it has played separating. India and Pakistan, Asif, in a simple heartfelt reply, reversed Pakistan’s stand.

Let’s put Kashmir aside for a wiser generation to sort out, he said. Let’s not be hostage to the UN resolutions, he added. Let’s get on with the rest of the relationship and once we’ve learnt live and love each other then tackle Kashmir. Stunned, I made Asif repeat this three times. Not once did he use the opportunity to resile. Each time he re-affirmed what he’d said.

Finally, I asked: “Can you carry your countrymen? Can you handle the backlash this would provoke?”

Asif’s reply was simple. There were no flourishes or braggadocio. “That’s the test of leadership,” and he left it at that.

I can’t predict what sort of government the PPP under Asif Zardari will give Pakistan. I can’t even state Asif won’t change this position. Politicians often do and Asif has faced flak from the Jamaat at home and the Hurriayat in Kashmir. But I do know that Asif did not get carried away. This was not indiscretion or impetuousness. He meant what he said and, what’s more, he meant to say it.

In fact, when I asked if Dr. Manmohan Singh chooses to invite the new PM what the response would be, Asif said not only would the prime minister come but so too Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Fazlur Rehman, Altaf Hussain and Asif Himself. A new Pakistan would seek to be friend India.

I’m therefore full of hope. And whilst I accept hope can easily be dashed, I would say there’s need to encourage this one. That’s the challenge facing our government. How do we assist Asif Zardari without embarrassing or undermining him?

Courtesy: Hindustan Times