Tag Archives: critical

The spreading strife – Is the state unwilling or unable?

By:Arif Ansar

Ethnic and sectarian strife is spreading in Pakistan. Hindus are migrating to India; Shias are being targeted with impunity; Pashtuns are suffering immeasurably and disproportionally in the fight against extremists, while the saga of missing persons and target killing continues in Balochistan. By any stretch of imagination, the nations is going through a much more critical stage than is commonly perceived. If there were any doubts, Gen Kayani in a recent speech himself raised the prospect of civil war if the militancy is not tackled.

Continue reading The spreading strife – Is the state unwilling or unable?

Pakistan Premier Warns Army Against ‘Conspiracy’

Comment by Prof. Gul Agha

The powerless government. In a normal democracy, such conspirators are arrested and charged with treason! Even a sitting military general making a critical remark against the President (or PM) is dismissed for insubordination (as happened with Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan).

Via » adopted from facebook

— O — o — O —

For more details » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL » Pakistan Premier Warns Army Against ‘Conspiracy’

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203686204577114230176501836.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Trading with the enemy. – By Najam Sethi

The granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) to India has confounded certain long-established political and ideological vested interests. The story of why Pakistan denied this status to India for two decades and why it has relented today is worth telling because it sheds light on a critical dimension of Pakistan’s “national security doctrine”. ….

Read more » The Friday Times

Sindh in malnutrition hotspots, says report

– ISLAMABAD – The National Nutrition Survey (NNS 2011), which was launched on Saturday, showed that Sindh had one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the country.

In Sindh 17.5 per cent of children under five years suffer from acute malnutrition, nearly seven per cent being severely malnourished. These results are way above WHO’s emergency threshold of 15 per cent, which indicates a critical nutrition situation. In addition, half of all children are stunted, a sign of long-term malnutrition.

The NNS 2011 also reports Sindh as the province with the highest proportion of food insecure people. Nearly 72 per cent of the population is food insecure and do not have access to enough food.

The situation can only be expected to get worse with the onset of current floods and the resulting loss of property, food stocks and the damage to standing crops. Last year’s post-flood nutrition survey had reported acute malnutrition rates as high as 23.1 per cent in the affected areas of Sindh. ….

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started distribution of food in the flood-affected areas of lower Sindh and is scaling up its efforts rapidly. “The WFP is taking practical steps to stabilise and improve the nutritional levels of the affected population. …

Read more → The Nation
http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Regional/Islamabad/18-Sep-2011/Sindh-in-malnutrition-hotspots-says-report

Zulfiqar Mirza and the role of media?

Sadly, almost all anchors of major news channels seemed to add fuel to fire. The questions, mostly, were instigating the participants to repeat the same mistake as committed by Mr. Zulfiqar Mirza, the anchors should have acted responsibly. Critical questions could have been avoided. Controversial personalities shouldn’t have been telecast on National TV channels.

Courtesy: Aaj Tv News (Bolta Pakistan with Mushtaq Minhas and Nusrat Javaid – 14th july 2011 part- 3)

via → ZemTv →  YouTube

Military monopoly challenged

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

Pakistan’s socio-political system has reached a critical stage where the competition or confrontation between institutions is leading to an inevitable but unexpected change. An overwhelmingly agrarian Pakistani society has evolved into a multi-layered complex body where new urban middle classes have matured enough to play a role. If the dominant institutions of the military and political elites do not rapidly adjust to the changing reality, an unprecedented and disastrous situation can develop.

Whatever way we cut it, the incidents of the last month compelled the military to come to parliament and explain itself to the legislators and the public. Despite the chiding posture of General Shuja Pasha, this was a new development. But then, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a long rebuttal, a public criticism, after the 139th Corps Commander’s Conference. In this comprehensive statement, he reasserted the military’s monopoly over defining the ideology and policy of the state of Pakistan. If one dissects General Kayani’s statement, part of it is the military’s claim to define the country as an ‘Islamic’ state and other parts are operational policies as to how the country is going to be run.

What General Kayani and the army do not realise is that the military’s monopoly over the Pakistani state was the product of a set of historical factors that have substantially changed. Now, other institutions of the state are maturing to the level that a new inter-institutional balance has to evolve or the state will wither away. …

… In the last decade, the media, as an institution, was rising and having an impact on different sectors of society. The movement for the restoration of the independent judiciary also showed that a vital branch of the state was gaining enough maturity. The way the PML-N acted as an opposition party was also another sign of the strengthening of democratic forces. Despite the incompetent PPP government and its non-cooperation with the judiciary or with the genuine political opposition, it is becoming clearer that a realignment of institutional balance is underway. Therefore, the military is facing other sets of forces that are different from the 70s. In this situation, the military can unleash ruthlessness to suppress the emerging forces or concede to them as a fait accompli. Maybe the military has read the tea leaves as an ex-COAS, General Jehangir Karamat maintains, but it has yet to be seen how far the military can withdraw itself from civilian affairs.

To read complete article: Wichaar

Pakistan’s ‘secret’ war

Author: Karlos Zurutuza, Balochistan
Editor: Rob Mudge

Excerpt:

Armed groups of Balochs in southwest Pakistan are gaining momentum at a critical point for the country’s future. Deutsche Welle looks at the phenomenon which presents yet another problem in the troubled region.

A province marked by floods and images of burned-out NATO tankers, Balochistan is the land of the Baloch, who today see their country in southwest Asia divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Balochistan is the size of France and boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, as well as untapped sources of oil and uranium. The exploitation of these natural resources in combination with repressive and discriminatory state-run policies have led to armed uprisings in the region.

In his book “Descent into Chaos,” best-selling writer and renowned Afghanistan commentator, Ahmed Rashid, says that the Baloch have instigated five insurgent uprisings to date. These insurgents take shelter in the rugged mountains of southern Pakistan and across the border, in Afghanistan.

The Baloch insurgents in Pakistan are fragmented into several groups: the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), the BRA (Baloch Republican Army), the BLF (Baloch Liberation Front) and Lashkar-e Balochistan (Balochistan’s army). Several analysts say this fragmentation reflects the tribal element among the Baloch. Accordingly, the BLA, BRA and Lashkar-e Balochistan are led by the local main clans of the Marris, the Bugtis and the Mengals respectively, while the BLF is a more heterogeneous movement.

Despite the apparent fracture, all these groups are markedly secular movements – at odds with the Taliban – who share a common agenda focusing on the independence of Balochistan. They organize their actions around guerrilla attacks, primarily against military targets and government infrastructures like gas pipelines.

Growing discontent

“Given that parliamentary politics is a fake option for us, we are forced to make politics with weapons. Since the partition of India in 1947, we have had to chose between slavery and death,” Khair Bux Marri told Deutsche Welle from his residence in Karachi. The 90-year old Marri is the leader of the biggest Baloch tribe. His life-long struggle against Pakistan has taken him from years of exile in Afghanistan to terms in Pakistani prisons.

His son, Balaach Marri, led the BLA and was killed in 2007 by the Pakistani army. The portrait of this guerrilla leader, wearing a Baloch cap and holding an assault rifle, is almost ubiquitous in Pakistani-controlled Balochistan and can often be spotted alongside Hayrbyar’s, his younger brother, also considered to be a “national hero” by many Baloch.

From his London exile, Hayrbyar Marri calls for the independence of Balochistan and defends the right of “self defence” by his people. When asked about a possible dialogue with Islamabad, he is categorical. “There’s only one thing to negotiate with Islamabad and that’s the immediate pull-out of their occupation troops,” he told Deutsche Welle from his house in London. ….

Harrison also said that the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan enjoys sympathies in the neighboring Sindh province which, according to the journalist, “has brought back the ancient dream of a state or a Sindhi-Balochistan federation extending along the Arabian Sea, from Iran to India.”

Read more: Deutsche Welle

Na wo badlay na dil badla na dil ki arzoo badli, Main kaesay aitbaar inqlab-i-asmaan kar loon

Truth & justice – By Mushtaq Gaadi

Excerpt:

… The consensus narrative that our security apparatus has tried to promote for the past six decades has collapsed. This narrative is built upon prejudice, denial of historical identities, violent and exclusive interpretations of Islam and the suppression of memories of injustice, crimes and wrongs. The only means to move beyond the impasse we find ourselves in and reframe our major consensus narrative is through the deliberative remembrance of our critical past.

The presidential reference on the Bhutto trial provides an opportunity to our state institutions and public to ground the present reconciliation into truth and justice. The acknowledgment of historic wrongs along with public apologies is the prerequisite for any reconciliation to be successful. Moreover, it is the only way to end the deep distrust and enmity which Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto referred in his last book by quoting the following Urdu couplet.

Na wo badlay na dil badla na dil ki arzoo badli

Main kaesay aitbaar inqlab-i-asmaan kar loon

The writer teaches at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

To read complete article : DAWN

Still ISI is worried for USA & not for their own homeland!

ISI chief leaves for US on critical mission

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD: ISI Chief Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha left on Friday for Washington to explain Pakistan`s position on the presence of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the country before he was killed in a US raid on May 2.

Gen Pasha set off on the critical mission for putting an end to misgivings about Pakistan in the US a day after army`s top brass conceded the failure of intelligence in detecting Osama`s presence in the vicinity of the elite military training institute and ordered an investigation.

Uncorroborated reports suggest that before leaving for Washington Gen Pasha met CIA`s station chief in Islamabad and reminded him about ISI`s contributions in the war on terror and the lead about Osama`s courier that eventually led the US to the Al Qaeda chief`s hideout in Abbottabad. …

Read more : DAWN

“Pakistan is at a critical make-or-break stage” – Abdul Sattar Edhi

Pakistan is at a critical make-or-break stage

By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui

Once, I was approached by General Hamid Gul, Imran Khan and few others, mostly military and intelligence officials, who were conspiring to overthrow Benazir Bhutto`s second government and wanted me to get involved. I declined because I am a social worker and not a politician. I also did not want to tarnish the credibility of my organisation by getting embroiled in something that obviously seemed quite disturbing. Eventually, I was made to feel threatened enough to temporarily leave the country.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of the Edhi Foundation, is unarguably the most renowned philanthropist in Pakistan. He began his work in 1951 with the opening of a free, one-room medical clinic in Karachi. Currently, his foundation runs 250 centres across the country and houses more than 2,000 children at any given time.

Continue reading “Pakistan is at a critical make-or-break stage” – Abdul Sattar Edhi

Interview with Pratap Mehta on Pakistan

Pratap Mehta: Pakistan’s Perpetual Identity Crisis

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political theorist and intellectual historian based in New Delhi, is leading us through another reflection on the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan.

The reconsideration of partition is a critical, current existential question not only for South Asians, but also for Americans who watch the continuous outrages from Taliban and CIA sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s a question on many levels — terrorism, geopolitics, ethnicity and religion — but, Pratap Mehta says, “it’s fundamentally the question of the identity of a country.”

In his telling of the partition story, the contemporary reality of Pakistan grew out of a failure to answer a core challenge of creating a nation-state: how do you protect a minority? It’s Mehta’s view that the framers of the modern subcontinent — notably Gandhi, Jinnah & Nehru — never imagined a stable solution to this question. He blames two shortcomings of the political discourse at the time of India’s independence:

The first is that it was always assumed that the pull of religious identities in India is so deep that any conception of citizenship that fully detaches the idea of citizenship from religious identity is not going to be a tenable one.

The second is that Gandhi in particular, and the Congress Party in general, had a conception of India which was really a kind of federation of communities. So the Congress Party saw [the creation of India] as about friendship among a federation of communities, not as a project of liberating individuals from the burden of community identity to be whatever it is that they wished to be.

The other way of thinking about this, which is to think about a conception of citizenship where identities matter less to what political rights you have, that was never considered seriously as a political project. Perhaps that would have provided a much more ideologically coherent way of dealing with the challenges of creating a modern nation-state. – – Pratap Bhanu Mehta with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, April 12, 2011.

Unlike many other Open Source talkers on Pakistan, Pratap Mehta does not immediately link its Islamization to the United States and its1980s jihad against the Soviets. Reagan and his CIA-Mujahideen military complex were indeed powerful players in the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, he agrees, but the turn began first during a national identity crisis precipitated by another partition, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Suddenly, Mehta is telling us, Pakistan could no longer define itself as the unique homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. In search of identity, and distinction from its new neighbor to the east, Pakistan turned towards a West Asian brand of Islam, the hardline Saudi Wahhabism that has become a definitive ideology in today’s Islamic extremism.

Mehta is hopeful, though, that in open democratic elections Islamic parties would remain relatively marginalized, that despite the push to convert Pakistan into a West Asian style Islamic state since 1971, “the cultural weight of it being a South Asian country” with a tradition of secular Islam “remains strong enough to be an antidote.”

Click here to listen Radio Open Source interview with Pratap Mehta, it is much more in depth than the text summary

Courtesy: http://www.radioopensource.org/pratap-mehta-pakistans-perpetual-identity-crisis/

Punjabi Taliban – Dawn Editorial

IT is difficult to say who is guilty of hurting the Punjabi sensibility and compromising Punjab`s security more. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has warned Interior Minister Rehman Malik against using the term `Punjabi Taliban`. The federal minister initially gave the impression that he was ready to take on Mr Sharif over the issue, going so far as to declare he was not a subordinate of the chief minister. But then he capitulated in the manner his party, the PPP, seems to have perfected. Mr Malik has promised Mr Sharif an explanation; however, others may not share the interior minister`s compulsion and would be more tempted to raise the critical question of what is so irritating about the term `Punjabi Taliban` that has made the chief minister livid. His angry response — time and again — to the `Punjabi` tagging of terrorists betrays a lack of understanding that does not quite suit the head of a provincial government. There is no insinuation that the Taliban enjoy the active support of the entire population of a province. It is only Mr Sharif`s interpretation that appears to give that sinister, all-encompassing meaning to a term a set of terrorists — many of whom have received training in Waziristan — have boasted of in recent times.

Rather than taking it as an attack meant to be countered forcefully, the mention of the Punjabi Taliban should lead to a bit of searching of the soul and territory at Mr Sharif`s command. There have been far too many allegations for him to continue to ignore the issue. The pamphlet left at the site of Minister Shahbaz Bhatti`s murder in Islamabad recently had the Taliban from Punjab claiming responsibility for the dastardly act.

If this is not the right time and the right sign for Punjab to act, there never will be. A lack of action on the part of the provincial government will only add to the impression that it, or some of its members, had a soft corner for terrorists on a killing spree. ….

Read more : DAWNWichaar

Pakistan : Not revolution but anarchy

– Not revolution but anarchy

by Waseem Altaf

Revolution refers to drastic change in thinking and behaving in the cultural, economic and socio-political context.

Socio-economic deprivation or gross disparity or conflict of interest among competing groups causes frustration which leads to aggression. The aggression so caused is channelized by leaders who symbolize an ideology. A critical mass of the population is necessary who are supportive of this ideology.

Today people in Pakistan are frustrated. This has caused aggression. The manifestations of this aggression are visible everywhere. The irritability of the common men, show of force and inflammatory speeches in public rallies, ever increasing crime rate, intolerance and impatience are all indicative of this aggression. However there is no such leader who has an ideology and who enjoys the support of a critical mass of the population which can bring about a revolution in this country. Hence the thought of revolution becomes even more irrelevant in a country where there are so many ethnic, social, political and religious divides with no leader enjoying mass support at the national level.

However this country is fast drifting towards a change. Let us see what the present state of the nation is:

Today it is not the government, the parliament, the media, the judiciary or even the army which calls the shots but the firebrand mullah in the streets who determines the tone and tenor of the statements and initiatives emanating from all the so called pillars of the State. Sherry Rahman has withdrawn the blasphemy bill, informed the Prime Minister on Wednesday 2nd of Feb. Sitting ministers either support the stance taken by the mullah or remain silent. While it is Mumtaz Qadri versus the State, the case has been shifted to Adiala jail for proceedings as the State does not feel secure in an open court in Islamabad. Last time the public prosecutor could not attend the court as the jail premises was thronged by Sunni Tehrik supporters of Mumtaz Qadri.Today the conduct of the Parliament is determined by the mullah as in the Senate, it was not allowed to say fateha for Salman Taseer in response to a resolution moved by Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar. Even the liberal MQM members refused and not a single member of PPP rose to support the resolution. …

Read more : View Point

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

Is this Pakistan or a brutal occupation of Sindh? Cancel the contracts for F16s, submarines and bombs and feed the people!

. Pakistan’s Sindh province faces acute hunger: UNICEF

By Chris Allbritton

(Reuters) – Pakistan’s Sindh province, hit hard by last year’s floods, is suffering levels of malnutrition almost as critical as Chad and Niger, with hundreds of thousands of children at risk, UNICEF said on Wednesday.

A survey conducted by the provincial government and the U.N. Children’s Fund revealed malnutrition rates of 23.1 percent in northern Sindh and 21.2 percent in the south.

Those rates are above the 15 percent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organization and are on a par with some of the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Northern Sindh also had a 6.1 percent severe acute malnutrition rate and southern Sindh had 2.9 percent, both far above the WHO thresholds.

“We are looking at hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” UNICEF chief of communication Kristen Elsby told Reuters.

A full report would be released Friday by the Sindh government, she said, along with the province’s response plan. …

Read more : REUTERSDAWNBBC urdu

Get Tough on Pakistan – By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

WHEN I visited Kabul a few weeks ago, President Hamid Karzai told me that the United States has yet to offer a credible strategy for how to resolve a critical issue: Pakistan’s role in the war in Afghanistan.

In the region and in the wider war against terrorism, Pakistan has long played a vital positive part — and a troublingly negative one. With Pakistani civilian and military leaders meeting with Obama administration officials this week in Washington — and with The Times report on Tuesday that Afghan and Taliban leaders are holding direct, high-level talks to end the war — cutting through this Gordian knot has become more urgent and more difficult than ever before.

Pakistan has done, and continues to do, a great deal of good: many of the supply lines and much of the logistical support for NATO forces in Afghanistan run through Pakistan. Drones striking terrorists and militants in the tribal areas do so with the Pakistani government’s blessing and rely on Pakistani bases. And Pakistani security services have worked with the Central Intelligence Agency to capture hundreds of Qaeda operatives.

At the same time, Pakistan gives not only sanctuary but also support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network. This has hampered our military efforts; contributed to American, coalition and Afghan deaths; and helped sour relations between Kabul and Washington.

Read more : The New York Times