Tag Archives: debate

Bernie Sanders Won the Debate, and Perhaps the Election, When He Defended Hillary Clinton

It was, without question, the climax of the debate. Hillary Clinton was defending herself against email allegations, when Bernie Sanders came to her rescue. In doing so, he not only demonstrated the decency that is the hallmark of his campaign, but also proved that he’s no ordinary politician.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to win the White House if it means losing his integrity. He’s willing to protect even his political rival if it’s in the name of justice.

This campaign cannot be about emails, but only Bernie Sanders was big enough to say that, on his competitor’s behalf.

Bernie Sanders: “What the Secretary said is right. And that is the American people are tired of hearing about your damn emails.”

Read more » Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-hanley/bernie-sanders-won-the-de_1_b_8290498.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

LOVE RULES THE DAY!

Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings

By

WASHINGTON — In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there.

The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. But in clearing the  way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.

The decisions will only intensify the fast-moving debate over same-sex marriage, and the clash in the Supreme Court reflected the one around the nation. In the hushed courtroom Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the majority opinion striking down the federal law in a stately tone that indicated he was delivering a civil rights landmark. After he finished, he sat stonily, looking straight ahead, while Justice Antonin Scalia unleashed a cutting dissent.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/us/politics/supreme-court-gay-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Simple arithmetic — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The establishment and its intellectuals’ priority has never been the rights of the Baloch and Sindhis

The envisaged Gwadar-Khunjrab-Kashgar railway and oil pipeline, for which a feasibility report was completed by Chinese engineers before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s 2010 visit to Pakistan, bodes evil for the Baloch people’s rights. This is but a part of the larger strategy aimed at ensuring that Balochistan becomes the Tibet and Xinjiang of Pakistan. Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, had then stated, “We support China’s policy on Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights.” China-Pakistan relations are based on mutual support for human rights violations.

This is amply proved by the fact that during the 23rd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s general debate in Geneva on June 7, 2013, when Balochistan’s representative to the UN Mehran Marri spoke about Pakistan’s continuing human rights abuses and recent farcical elections in Balochistan, the Pakistani delegate objected, and was supported by the Chinese and Cuban delegates. However, much to their chagrin, the US and UK representatives taking strong exception to their objections, supported Marri and called on the session chair to allow him to complete his statement and be allowed on record. Ironically, the Cuban representative said it was unacceptable for an NGO, conveniently forgetting that they too were once an NGO (pun intended), to attack the territorial integrity and independence of a sovereign state.

The continuing Afghan influx has already changed the demographic balance in parts of Balochistan. This proposed railway will help Pakistan usher in engineered demographic changes to turn the Baloch into a minority in their own land. The recently installed extremely pliable government in Quetta — whose titular chief minister cannot even name a cabinet without Nawaz Sharif’s consent — fully supports these sham mega-projects to bring about required demographic changes. The systematic engineered demographic changes combined with the brutal killings of Baloch activists and ordinary people suspected of sympathies with the Sarmachars (insurgents) are the two-pronged attacks that the Pakistani establishment has unleashed on the Baloch people. The demography issue is a life and death issue as the Baloch people’s destiny hinges on it and the resistance they can muster.

The Pashtuns too are suffering because of the harebrained dreams of strategic depth, which the deep state refuses to abandon in the hope of becoming the arbiter of Afghanistan’s fate and the hope to keep India on the back foot with its non-state actors. This ludicrous policy also sustains sectarian terror.

Sindhis have had the worst of both worlds and are rapidly turning into a minority in Sindh. Once again demands for shifting Biharis there are being made. This does not mean that they have not been coming in slowly, steadily and surreptitiously; where even mechanics can get blue passports at a price, getting an NIC is not a big deal. Thousands of Afghans refugees are bona fide citizens of Sindh; an Afghan colony is slowly taking shape near Bhit Shah and may well become a Sohrab Goth.

Continue reading Simple arithmetic — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Those who attacked Kamra were not American, they are from among us

By Raza Rumi

Two days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief made some startling observations in his address to the Pakistan Military Academy, the militants attacked a key strategic installation — the Kamra airbase. That the attack took place on the revered night of 27th of Ramazan is not without symbolism. For the brand of ‘Islam’ practised by the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) violence precedes other imperatives of faith. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took a bold public position in his address by saying: “Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist…. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes”. The lethal by-products of our strategic ‘games’ — the TTP — are not amenable to such a worldview. In Kamra, they battled the military for more than five hours. The foreign media highlighted the nebulous connection between the airbase and the country’s nuclear assets; but both the Pakistani and American authorities later affirmed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was safe.

Continue reading Those who attacked Kamra were not American, they are from among us

What American Think-Tank thinkers think about how Pakistan will evolve in future? Part -1

By Khalid Hashmani

As the bitterness continues to rise in the Pakistan-USA relationship so does the interest of American Think-Tankers in the future of Pakistan. Last Monday (December 5, 2011), the Brookings Institution launched a new book about Pakistan titled “The Future of Pakistan”. In this book, 17 experts from Pakistan, India, Europe, and the USA looked at the various scenarios in the context of how Pakistan is likely to evolve and develop in the near future. A well-known scholar and US Policy Advisor Stephen Cohen headed this project. The launch event consisted of two panels who discussed different aspects of the project and some of the conclusions.

Continue reading What American Think-Tank thinkers think about how Pakistan will evolve in future? Part -1

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

The Unchanged Look of Current Politics

The Unchanged Look of Current Politics – Fashion Expert Anticipates Presidential Candidates to Dress The Same for the Debate on October 11th, 2011.

People want change, but the more change is promised the more things stay the same. Even the way political candidates dress has been unchanged. It is the same old gray suit, white shirt, and red tie look. Men’s Fashion Expert, Hendrik Pohl, argues that “change starts with first impressions, how someone dresses, and he is convinced that people will respond positively to a changed look that incorporates new tie colors, bow ties, and even skinny ties.” But he is convinced that a changed look is not what people will see during the upcoming presidential debate on October 11th, 2011. ….

Read more → PRWeb

Pakistan’s Army Is the Real Obstacle to Peace – It shelters jihadists and cows liberal civilian politicians.

– BY MIRA SETHI

Two months after Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was assassinated by his own bodyguard for criticizing the country’s blasphemy law, the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed for doing his job—advocating protection of the country’s two million Christians.

Taseer’s assassination prompted a debate: Was the blasphemy law, introduced by Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s in his bid to “Islamize” Pakistan, being exploited for mundane interests? Was it leading to witch hunts? Bhatti’s death should prompt Pakistanis to ask themselves an equally disquieting question: Does Pakistan have a future as …

Read more: → THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: AQ Khan Under Threats; Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Excerpt:

Islamabad: Developments are taking place at a fast pace ever since Osama bin Laden was killed in a limited operation by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, 60 miles north of the federal capital, Islamabad.

The life of the most wanted man on earth was dangerous for peace and stability in Pakistan, but his death has become a nightmare for Pakistan, that puts the very fiber of the society at stake and integrity of the country in danger. The “Ghairat” (honor) brigade of media is very active as it is trying to bring the democratic dispensation under pressure on one hand and point its guns towards the security institutions on the other hand.

The debate sparked by the May 2 operation focused on Pakistan’s national sovereignty, but nobody amongst the hawks were ready to accept the fact that although the US action was undoubtedly a clear breach of the national sovereignty, the presence of ObL on Pakistani soil, especially in a garrison city like Abbottabad had equally subverted the national sovereignty and undermined our security framework. …

…. Indeed the military leadership admitted its failure, but the briefing given to the sitting was not very significant, says Syed Zafar Ali Shah, a PML-N hawk. Although general Pasha surrendered before the parliament, it was for the sake of their institution, and not for the supremacy of the civilian rule, he added. The attitude of the uniformed top brass was rather contemptuous towards the elected representatives of the country, sources said adding that it was evident from the tone of the soldiers and the response they given to the elected representatives who asked tough questions or pointed out political hobnobbing by the agencies.

The tone was harsh and not like that of a person wanting to admit his mistakes, said Zafar Ali Shah. He however, was silent on the question that why PML-N did not ask for certain resignations over the Abbottabad incident. Sources closed to Mian Nawaz Sharif on the other hand answered this question. The close circles of Mian Nawaz Sharif have confided that the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had a one on one meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif on May 9th at his residence in Murree. The said meting took place on the first day of PML-N central leadership’s meeting in Islamabad when Mian Sb asked his party men to demand for the resignation of military top brass.

PML-N sources are of the view that Mian Saheb was to demand resignations during his next day press briefing, and some how this was conveyed to the Army leadership that created bit of worry in Rawalpindi, thus the COAS rushed himself to his Murree residence and requested him not to do so. Mian Sb, according to the sources while accepting the suggestion, changed his words, but kept very harsh tone. This was also indicated in 15th May media briefing when he demanded agencies budget and expenditure to be presented in the parliament. …

To read complete article: Indus Herald

Post-Osama Pakistan – Nizamuddin Nizamani

Excerpt:

…. Primarily, religious education must be transformed. Religion taught civilisation but, unfortunately, religious beliefs ended up as being the single factor of rift and division among mankind. Its misinterpretation has created fanaticism and intolerance, lethal for coexistence. The Muslim youth has been brainwashed to do away with the present life, treat it as worthless and instead prepare for life in the hereafter. The easy shortcut to paradise is jihad and becoming a martyr with a guaranteed passport to heaven. This kind of indoctrination should be banned and the state should ensure modern education to such groups.

Secondly, there seems to be a dire need for ijtihad (religious discourse and debate), on many Quranic ayaat (verses) and ahadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH)) prone to misinterpretation. The clergy has been selective while interpreting a few ayaat and ahadith in the background of time and space but ignoring the parameters of others. They allow Muslim males to marry Christian or Jewish females as being ahl-e-kitab (followers of the divine books). Simultaneously, they emphasise that yahood-o-nasara (Jews and Christians) are the archenemies of Islam. They do not consider the time and space of such sayings. They do not press the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings such as “Lakum deenukum waliya deen” (unto you is your religion and unto me is my religion). A political will can reverse this process, as whenever the state planned and took the clergy onboard, they came out with the required ayaat and ahadith to serve the collective purpose — population and drug controls are good examples.

Third, the electronic media must be regulated to filter out hate speech and indoctrination through provocation. The Hamid Gul brand of think tanks should be advised to retire for good. They should go for perpetual prayers to prepare for the life hereafter. Fourth, the defence forces should be purged of alleged disgruntled individuals, and they should be respectfully retired to civilian life, away from sensitive strategic decision-making. Fifth, those who believe in peace and coexistence should not be blamed as being enemy agents and, instead, should be taken onboard in decision-making. Sixth, the perpetual fallacy that Pakistan is in danger from external enemies must be shunned. We need to repair our home. Dangers lie within, not outside. Prolonged issues and conflicts with religious and ethnic minorities must be addressed with a mindful strategy. Lastly, we need to unlearn our sense of superiority and learn to live and let live in peace with all countries including Afghanistan, Iran, the US, India and even Israel. Otherwise, we are bound to be either isolated and in trouble from vengeful forces or land in the morass of self-pity for good.

Read more : Daily Times

Osama’s Death & Civil-Military Row

Nawaz Answered Government’s SOS & Rushed Back to the Country; Osama’s Death & Civil-Military Row; Who Asked Mark Siegel to Publish Write Up by Zardari?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad: The May 2 Abbottabad operation, which resulted in the discovery and murder of world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden at the hands of US Navy SEALs has brought the civil-military relationship in Pakistan to a new low. The mistrust between the two has increased manifold. It is feared that the imbroglio may end up in the pack up of another democratic dispensation.

Observers are unanimous that the country’s civilian leadership was stunned at the news and couldn’t respond quickly to it but they are really surprised at the response or the lack of it by the military leadership. They feel that the military hierarchy’s behavior was quite perplexing. They were remarkably silent and seemed quite oblivious in the first few days after the US operation as if nothing had happened. Later they mishandled the issue in the media and attempted to undermine the political leadership. That raises concerns of the people about junta’s intentions towards the democratic government.

Sources in the power corridors have confided to this scribe that the civilian leadership is taking many questions into account so as to regroup and formulate a counter strategy. Every single move by the army chief and other military top men is being minutely watched and analyzed. The civilian leadership is quite unhappy over the recent statement of top ranking military leadership regarding the government in its post Osama briefing to media and anchorpersons. The address of Army Chief General Kayani to Garrison Officers at three top cantonments has also caused concern amongst the civilian leadership through which an impression was given that the civilians are ineffective and it is they who are making damage control efforts despite a huge understanding on the issue between the President, Prime Minister and the Army Chief, sources maintained.

The civilian leadership sincerely intends to control the damage but for many reasons it is clueless and directionless, sources observed adding that every effort of independent inquiry was thwarted and blocked by the military, thus an inquiry under Adjutant General has been constituted. How come a serving subordinate will be able to conduct an independent inquiry against his immediate bosses, asked a sitting minister however adding that everybody will have to wait for the outcome of the inquiry being conducted by army itself.

On the other hand civilians are trying to get answers of many questions including the one that whether or not they have been ditched by the intelligence networks. The people also want an answer to the question if OBL’s presence in Abbottabad was in the knowledge of the relevant agencies and military leadership.

Meanwhile, sources observed that a sizeable number of the civilians seriously believed that they have been ditched. A serious question is being raised in view of the recent statements by some neighbors pointing out that when they heard the blast after the helicopter crash, they tried to approach OBL’s compound but they were stopped by some guards speaking Urdu.

These statements, in view of some sources, clearly indicate that an earlier report carried by Indus Herald that some soldiers were provided for outer cordon was correct. This also indicates that a section of Pakistani establishment knew about a US strike, but they might not be privy to the details of the proceedings.

A section of media and politicians are also looking for an answer to the question that if the operation was done in total dark and without a prior information of Pakistan, then how come the people who have been arrested after the operation from the compound did not escape although they got at least 15 minutes before the arrival of any Pakistani security personnel? Hamza bin Laden is believed to have taken the advantage of the time gap and ran away from the scene as reported by the British media is quite a good evidence in support of the above argument.

The president and the other PPP leaders wanted an independent inquiry to be held, but they had to accept the decision by military leadership as desired by Army Chief sources said adding that the powers that be asked civilians to stay away from the damage control efforts and they will be the ones who will be responsible to take on the situation and control the damage, but the situation deteriorated with every passing day. However, the military leadership was not happy with the way some TV channels sparked debate and took them to task with strong words and allegations of incompetence and negligence.

It is also said that the president has been advised that besides the inquiry announced by the military leadership, an independent parliamentary inquiry commission with presence of opposition leader Ch. Nisar, and some of the top retired judges must be set up. However, the sources observed that the government would be packed up if such an inquiry were established. It is also believed that the president is willing to set up such an inquiry with Army Chief and other military leadership on board.

Meanwhile, a section of media is probing an allegation that the officers in KPK were asked not to leave their station and stay in before the operation and all mobile phones of the uniformed officers were blocked on May 01. However this story has not been confirmed by any reliable source.

On the other hand, sources in the PML-N have confided to this scribe that Mian Nawaz Sharif responded to a May-Day call by the government through unconventional means and rushed to Pakistan. The government wanted to block Ch. Nisar’s cynical criticism. Mian Nawaz Sharif on the first day of his top leadership meeting strongly supported the idea of a demand of resignation of both Army Chief and the ISI Chief, a demand that didn’t get much response earlier. He according to the sources has assured the PPP that any attempt to subvert the Constitution and dislodge the civilian rule will be resisted with full force. At a press conference after the two-day PML-N meeting Mian Nawaz Sharif rejected the inquiry set up by military and demanded a Judicial Commission to look in the matter. He severely criticized the military establishment. ….

Read more : Indus Herald

Debate on HEC Devolution

by Dr Azhar A. Shah

In the context of present debate on the devolution of HEC when we present some facts and figures to support our arguments in favor of devolution; most of the opponents of the devolution have come up to negate these facts not by counter arguments and supporting evidence but by labeling it as a campaign for regionalism and provincialism. They issue directives to us to be Pakistani and stop this debate! To them, being Pakistani means surrendering the right to present our point of view on a matter which is directly related to the very field that we are an important stakeholders of!.

I think it is this attitude of opposing any argument/voice in favor of limited regional autonomy (decentralization, devolution, delegation, provinces’ rights ), which is guaranteed by the constitution of our country, that would further enhances the gaps between provinces and regions. We must learn to respect each other by considering all of us as equal citizens, as equal Pakistanis and providing every one a chance to participate in the debate with equal dignity without questioning her/his level of Pakistaniat! It seems a very mean thing to remind a person of his nationality (Pakistaniat) while she/he is debating a point in terms of academic discourse! Every one understands that not all the participants in the debate could be right. We could be wrong! But it doesn’t imply that we don’t think as Pakistanis!.

If I am showcasing the weaknesses, the faults, the troubles, the unfairness, the inequality of our system of our organizations, it is meant to be noted for correction, it is meant to be noted for improvement, it is meant to be noted for progress. We should get rid of that old feudo-military mindset that represses the ideas, that represses the creativity, and that considers every opponent ideas as enemy number one.

That said, I would present an example of how regional voice and concerns are being encouraged, supported and responded by the civilized societies of the world . Please respect the ancient civilization of our ingeniousness ancestors and refrain from further turning of our present society into militant society!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 14, 2011

Will It Be Punjab V/S The Rest Again?

Government Judiciary Row III, Reopening of Bhutto Case: Will It Be Punjab V/S The Rest Again?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Supreme Court of Pakistan has fixed initial hearing on 13th April in the presidential reference to reopen Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case and its decision is yet to come but the president’s move has already generated a heated debate is in the country. While some people have expressed their support for the reference calling it a chance for the apex court to correct a historic wrong, there are some people, groups and parties on the other side of the fence, mainly from Punjab, who have opposed the move and termed it as an attempt to further divide an already divided country.

Be it PML-N that took a surprising anti-establishment stance in the recent years after Musharraf ousted its leader from power and the country and a pro Iftikhar Chaudhry led judiciary stance since March 2007 or Tehrik e Insaaf, Jamaat e Islami or other religious parties, all are on same page in this case. …

Read more : Indus Herald

As Pakistan battles extremism, it needs allies’ patience and help

By Asif Ali Zardari, The writer is president of Pakistan.

Just days before her assassination, my wife, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, wrote presciently of the war within Islam and the potential for a clash between Islam and the West: “There is an internal tension within Muslim society. The failure to resolve that tension peacefully and rationally threatens to degenerate into a collision course of values spilling into a clash between Islam and the West. It is finding a solution to this internal debate within Islam – about democracy, about human rights, about the role of women in society, about respect for other religions and cultures, about technology and modernity – that shall shape future relations between Islam and the West.”

Two months ago my friend Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was cut down for standing up against religious intolerance and against those who would use debate about our laws to divide our people. On Tuesday, another leading member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in our cabinet, was murdered by extremists tied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

These assassinations painfully reinforce my wife’s words and serve as a warning that the battle between extremism and moderation in Pakistan affects the success of the civilized world’s confrontation with the terrorist menace.

A small but increasingly belligerent minority is intent on undoing the very principles of tolerance upon which our nation was founded in 1947; principles by which Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, lived and died; and principles that are repeated over and over in the Koran. The extremists who murdered my wife and friends are the same who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and who have blown up girls’ schools in the Swat Valley.

We will not be intimidated, nor will we retreat. Such acts will not deter the government from our calibrated and consistent efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism. It is not only the future of Pakistan that is at stake but peace in our region and possibly the world.

Read more : The Washington Post

When Gen. Zia imposed Arabic

by Dr. Masood Ashraf

The role of national languages in defining and articulating national identities is a hackneyed subject, but, somehow, the privileging of learning a sacred language has not been explored much in the debates on nationalism. In this brief article, I intend to draw attention to the rise of Arabic studies in Pakistan and its long-term consequences for the Pakistani public sphere.

In his 1983 book Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson provides three major causes for the waning of the pre-national empires and the rise of modern nation-states. One of the reasons, according to Anderson, was the rise of vernacular languages in place of what were considered the sacred languages, Latin and Arabic included. I have long maintained that Anderson misses the point as he only looks at the official use of these languages and not about the symbolic aspects of their power. In case of Arabic, for example, while it never was the official language of Muslim India, it still remains a language that wields immense symbolic power. …

Read more : ViewPoint

The battle over blasphemy – Riz Khan

Has Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law become a political tool in the hands of religious conservatives?

We will be discussing Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law with journalist Shehrbano Taseer whose father – Punjab governor Salman Taseer – was killed for speaking out against it.

The killing ignited a debate in Pakistan with many critics calling for the law to be amended or scrapped, saying it was being used to victimise liberal politicians and religious minorities.

But extremist groups have celebrated Taseer’s killer, calling him a hero who is defending Islam.

So has the blasphemy law become a political tool and should it have a place in today’s Pakistan?

Also joining the discussion will be Asma Jahangir, a well-known human rights activist, and Amjad Waheed, an Islamic scholar.

Read more : ALJAZEERA

The missing link in drone debate

by Dr. Mohammad Taqi

…. It is important not just for the US to hold the Pakistani Army’s feet to fire but for the Pakistani politicians to clearly state their position on the subject of drone attacks in FATA. Americans have the luxury to pack up and leave but most Pakistani politicians do not. They must seek a formal and public state policy on the drones operations preferably through the parliament. With the Pakistan Army’s reluctance to move against the jihadists holding the FATA hostage, the Predator drones remain the most viable option against terror. Only a bold political stance can clear the fog over the FATA skies; the politicians must speak up to regularize the drone campaign.

To read full article : ViewPoint

Pakistan – Debate on provincial autonomy

by:  ZULFIQAR HALEPOTO, Secretary, Sindh Democratic Forum, Hyderabad

Courtesy: Daily Dawn, Thursday, 13 Aug, 2009

TWO months ago an advertisement appeared in leading national dailies in which the ministry of provincial coordination, government of Sindh, solicited civil society to submit proposals and recommendations to the government regarding provincial autonomy. The content of the advertisement gives an impression that provincial autonomy is an important issue and the centre is seriously seeking suggestions from provinces to resolve the autonomy issue. The formation of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and the National Finance Commission to work out for fair distribution of resources are the arguments given by the government about the seriousness of the regime to decentralise powers of the centre. However, during its 15 months in power the government has only demonstrated overcentralisation of power in the presidency.

Continue reading Pakistan – Debate on provincial autonomy

Developing a proper method of accountability- Watchdogs on the judiciary, parliament, executive, police, or for that matter

Issues to consider

–  Aqil Sajjad

I’m listing down some political issues that we should consider taking up now that the deposed judges have been restored. Each one of these issues is very important, and we need someone to take it up.

1. Judiciary and police reforms:

..Developing a proper method of accountability for the judges because the existing SJC structure is flawed. – Reforming the lower judiciary. – Police reforms

2. Devolution:

This is very important because devolution has the potential to open up opportunities for ordinary citizens to enter electoral politics. Union councils are small, and you can contest elections even if you are not filthy rich. Once you have been a union councilor, you can gradually go on to contest elections for bigger constituencies and move up in politics.

Things to do: convince the media to have more constructive discussions on devolution, and promote the idea to the people at large, so that it becomes increasingly difficult for any government to roll it back.

3. Intra-party democracy:

This requires engaging with the media and political party workers at the grass roots to highlight this issue.

4. Demanding live debates on local radio:

Due to the wider reach of radio, and considering the fact that TV channels can generally only talk about national issues, there is a real need for local city/district radio stations to come up and hold live debates on local issues. During elections, the election commission should even arrange for regular structured debates at the local level for all constituencies.

We need to highlight this issue and press the govt to remove unnecessary restrictions and giving live debates proper air time on govt-owned local radio stations.

5. Corruption:

Highlighting the need for a constitutionally independent NAB, which can investigate and prosecute corruption cases against anyone including those in power without political interference.

6. Provincial autonomy:

A first step should be to make an attempt to understand what people outside Isb, Lhr and Khi think and want…

7. Constitution revue:

Understanding our constitution, and then determining whether it really serves our needs even if it’s restored to the original 1973 form. Then figuring out the kind of amendments that are needed for the genuine empowerment of the people. Some of the earlier points related to judiciary reforms, devolution, NAB and provincial autonomy would automatically be a part of such an effort, but here the goal would be to have a comprehensive review of the constitution rather than a single issue focus.

8. A political party Watchdog:

Looking at things like

a. The extent of intra-party democracy. This should include how party tickets are awarded.

b. Whether the parties have proper think-tanks for policy formulation.

c. Whether the parties have competent people and intra-party mechanisms for bringing such people forward.

d. whether there are any intra-party mechanisms for accountability, how many members of the parties have criminal or corruption cases etc.

e. How many of the MNAs and MPAs elected on party tickets are lotas with a history of switching loyalties.

9. Media watch:

This can include things like

a. keeping an eye on the political connections of newspaper and TV channel owners, and making knowledge of such connections well known to the public;

b. keeping track of whether journalists are consistent in applying the same principle. Example: if someone said that Iftikhar Ch should be restored when he was first removed by Musharraf, then did they continue to propagate the same position when the PPP came into power or did they suddenly do a ‘lota’ on this?

c. rating various talk-shows on the diversity of guests they invite, so that our national discourse does not remain monopolized by a very small group of people.

d. Pointing out instances of yellow journalism.

10. Other watchdogs:

Watchdogs on the judiciary, parliament, executive, police, NAB, or for that matter, any regulatory authority, like PEMRA or SECP.

March 28, 2009

Better to have some debate than not!

By Sarwar Bari
Better to have some debate than not having any as it informs us about various perspectives and their shades. Yet, it is important to know/search who is going to capture what and how much from such debates? Since, background of some writers and their politics remains hidden from the readers, it is difficult to judge them and to know their intentions and politics.In my view, therefore sheer anti-imperialist sloganeering or even actions do not deserve my support. My reasons is my value-humanism and freedom. We have/had so many anti-imperialists now and in the past who were/are fascists like Hitler, Khomeini, Pol Pot and now Taliban and Alqaida. We must know
that within 3 weeks of so-called retrogressive/ reactionary revolution, Iranian mullahs killed more than two thousand Communists, they still don¹t allow any freedom to its critics. In whole of Shah¹s rule only 345 communists were killed. So both pro-imperialist Shah and anti-Imperialist mullahs in my view were fascists and anti-freedom.
Also, I must cite here example of Enoch Powel a great racist and anti-imperialist of the UK.

Continue reading Better to have some debate than not!