Tag Archives: intentions

ECP urged to shun ‘dictatorial-era’ tactics

KARACHI: Members of the public, civil society, professional bodies and trade unions have expressed their strong disapproval of the tactics being used to push the election process in a certain direction, demanding that no attempt be made by any quarter to vitiate the atmosphere that can lead to subverting the will of the people as the upcoming elections are of crucial importance to the future of the country.

The statement issued on Thursday has been endorsed by I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mohammad Tahseen of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Suleman Abro of the Sindh Agriculture Forestry Workers’ Coordination Organisation, Naseer Memon of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Jami Chandio of the Centre for Peace and Civil Society, Dr Tipu Sultan of the Pakistan Medical Association, Dr Manzoor Awan of the Sungi Development Foundation, Samson Salamat of the Centre for Human Rights Education, Farhat Parveen and Mir Zulfiqar of NOW Communities, Uzma Noorani of the Women’s Action Forum, Zahida Detho of the Sindh Rural Partners Organisation, Javed Qazi of the Forum for Secular Pakistan, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Unions Federation, Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Dr Kaiser Bengali, Dr A.H. Nayyar of the Pakistan Peace Coalition, B.M. Kutty, Zulfiqar Halepoto and others.

“We express particular concern at the process of scrutiny of the candidates by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which amounts to Zia-era vigilantism and a disguised return to the ‘accountability before elections’ mantra. This whole exercise smells of mala fide intentions,” the statement read.

Continue reading ECP urged to shun ‘dictatorial-era’ tactics

‘Downstream Kotri’

By: M Khan Sial, Karachi, Sindh

This refers to letter of Choudhry Hamid Malhi, Lahore (Aug 7) headlined above.

It was unfair to claim the so-called study of downstream Kotri was conducted by WAPDA in 2005, had approval of Sindh government. First of all, what was justification for WAPDA to delay the already agreed important survey for long period of 14 years of signing the Accord? This shows the malafide intentions of WAPDA against Sindh and as such WAPDA should clarify the reasons for delay and fix responsibility for this?

It was on record, the Sindh government had rejected the said so-called survey conducted by WAPDA as Sindh govt was not taken on board. Attending one or two meetings if any, does not mean, its decision had Sindh Government’s final approval.

If there is any approval of the so-called survey by Sindh government, WAPDA should release the copy of the agreement in media showing signatures of all concerned.

Later, the Sindh government had arranged survey through an international organisation as its own and as per media, it was recommended to release at least 10 MAF water annually downstream Kotri whereas internationally organised IUCN had also conducted the survey separately that recommended release of 32 to 35 MAF water annually as mandatory requirement. It was claimed that in WAPDA’s survey even it was agreed that 25 MAF water to be released within five years, but till today the said water was not released leaving Indus delta to ruin completely.

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Toronto Sun – Pakistani Consulate General official in Toronto recalled over sex assault allegation

Pakistani consular official recalled over sex assault allegation

By Maryam Shah, Toronto Sun

TORONTO – An official with the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto has been recalled following an inquiry into a sexual assault allegation.

The married father of two allegedly assaulted a female passport applicant inside the North York consulate in February.

Toronto Police were not called to investigate the matter. Consular officials conducted their own investigation which wrapped up late last month.

After collecting statements from both sides, the investigative committee declared the man was “totally unfit” for government service.

The committee “held the accused guilty of trying to use his position to coax the victim into a locked room with malicious intentions of molesting/physically assaulting her,” said a consular report obtained by the Toronto Sun.

The June 23 report shows that the allegation was reported on Feb. 12 by a “respected community member.” The consular official allegedly took the victim “into an isolated locked room.”

The victim is identified as a Pakistani-Canadian woman from Thorncliffe. The report states that the employee was in charge of MRP (machine-readable passport) processing.

The only people aware of the allegation were the accused, the victim, and committee members.

“Inquiry officers were told to type notes themselves to keep the inquiry confined within the four walls of the office,” reads the report, signed by acting consul general Imran Ali.

The document also states that the woman “did not go to Toronto law enforcement authorities on our assurances that we would hold an impartial inquiry and the culprit would be brought to justice.”

Sources confirmed no attempt was made to stop the woman from going to Toronto Police when the allegation first came to light.

The report also states that the RCMP was informed about the inquiry “to pre-empt embarrassment” if the victim later contacted the authorities. It later acknowledged the possible “negative consequences” if the victim contacted Canadian law enforcement or media.

Continue reading Toronto Sun – Pakistani Consulate General official in Toronto recalled over sex assault allegation

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

Will the Washington Bomb Plot Force Obama into War with Iran?

by Tony Karon

“We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other,” outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month. “If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation, which could be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”

Mullen’s warning of the perils arising from the two sides’ inability to communicate and understand each other’s intentions — “Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union”

Read more: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/10/12/will-the-washington-bomb-plot-force-obama-into-war-with-iran/#ixzz1ahp4QSYq

 

The biggest hurdle to the better future of Pakistan

Survival of the self-centered

By Badar Alam

Excerpt:

…. In another indication that the army continues to overstep institutional boundaries, the press release has invoked popular endorsement for the army. The question is why it needs such an endorsement if it is carrying out its official functions of maintaining national defence and internal security as it should. Is it hankering after direct public support because it does not operate under a constitutional arrangement in which a people’s will is solicited and channeled into the policies of the government through democratically elected institutions? Effectively the army has become a supra-constitutional organisation that bypasses, and sometimes also subverts, the writ of the people in their very name.

If the army is a government department, with its rights and responsibilities laid down under the constitution mandated by the people of Pakistan, does it then perform as a government department? No, it is not. Postal services, for example, do not set ideological goals for them and they do not seek direct public support in discharging their duties; they just deliver letters as they are supposed to do under the legal, institutional and constitutional provisions that govern their functioning.

The army, indeed, needs to do what it is supposed to do under the law and the constitution – and that excludes a lot of what it is doing now. First and foremost, it needs to start observing its institutional limits and stop talking and acting beyond its constitutional mandate. If it cannot do that, and it seems it does not want to, no amount of loud declarations about its pious intentions and even louder condemnations of the ‘divisive designs’ of its alleged detractors will improve its image and performance.

To read complete article: DAWN.COM

Accountability of Military Inc

by Najam Sethi

The terrorist attacks on GHQ last year and the Mehran Naval Base last month were outrageous examples of terrorist efficiency and motivation as opposed to ISI incompetence and military ill-preparedness. The US Navy Seal raid to extract Osama bin Laden from a compound in Abbottabad was deeply humiliating as well. Heads should have rolled. But the military will not even consider an independent commission of inquiry to unearth the facts. No wonder its credibility and sacred-cow status have taken a mighty hit. Within the armed forces, officers are standing up to question and confront their superiors. Outside, an angry public wants to know why we are spending half our tax resources on equipping the military with F-16s and BMWs when it can’t even protect itself, let alone defend the nation. This questioning of Military Incorporated is unprecedented.

More significantly, the civilian opposition is up in arms. It is demanding an informed debate over the military’s national security doctrines – particularly with reference to the obsession with, and fear of, “arch-enemy India” – that have spawned such self-serving budgetary outlays and an arms race at the expense of the social welfare of Pakistanis for six decades. The indignant argument that criticism of the military is “unpatriotic” or serves the interests of the “enemy” doesn’t wash any more. Indeed, the term “establishment”, used hitherto to refer obliquely to the military so as not to offend it, is rapidly going out of fashion. People are not afraid to call a spade a spade.

Ominously, the ISI’s mythology of power is now being deconstructed and exposed as being undeserved. The “agencies” are out of fashion, the ISI is squarely in the spotlight. The premeditated abduction and torture of journalist Saleem Shehzad, which led to his death, has been bravely laid by the media and opposition at the door of the ISI and not some invisible “agency”. The government’s silence – in not establishing a credible commission of inquiry – has also compromised the ISI’s position. This is remarkable, not because of the pathetic response in self-defense elicited from unnamed spokesmen of the ISI but because a conviction has now taken root in the public imagination that the ISI should not be beyond the pale of the law and accountability. The opposition has gone so far in parliament as to demand an oversight of its functions, duties, responsibilities and budgets. This is a far cry from a demand by the media and opposition not so long ago to shield and protect the ISI and its DG from the “conspiratorial” tentacles of the PPP government and its ubiquitous interior minister, Rehman Malik, who sought to bring the ISI’s internal political wing dedicated to political machinations under civilian control.

All this has happened because of two new factors that are not sufficiently imagined or understood by the military and ISI. One is the rise of a fiercely competitive and free media that is rapidly coming of age and will not allow itself to be manipulated wholesale in the “patriotic national interest”, a term that is constantly being re-evaluated in light of changing realities. The other is the revival of a chief justice and supreme court that are acutely aware of the civil burden imposed by their historic and popular enthronement. Neither will countenance any political or military oversight of their own sense of freedom and function. So if the military cannot rely on the troika of army chief, president and prime minister for political leverage of government – because the president and prime minister are one now – it is even more problematic to try and manipulate the media and SC merely on the yardstick of “patriotism” and “national interest”. The military’s woes are compounded by the fact that, for the first time in history, a popular Punjabi “son of the soil” like Nawaz Sharif, whose PML is a veritable creature of the predominantly Punjabi-origin military itself, has turned around and openly challenged its supremacy, arrogance and lack of accountability. The “Punjabi establishment” – meaning the civil-military power combine that has ruled Pakistan since independence — is therefore openly divided. The irony of history is that it is a Sindhi politician (Asif Zardari) who is opportunistically lending his shoulder to the military as it braces for fresh buffetings at home.

But that is just the beginning of a new story. The international establishment – principally the USA and EU – that has nurtured and molly-coddled the Pakistani military for six decades with money and weapons is also at the end of its tether. The “strategic partnership” mantra is dead. Washington, like Islamabad, doesn’t trust Rawalpindi either as long-term partner or ally. It is only a matter of time before the civilians in Pakistan and those in DC or Brussels make common cause for mutual benefit. Indeed, if the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill were to be floated anew with clauses enjoining civilian supremacy over the military, there would not even be conscientious objectors today.

The Pakistan military should see the writing on the wall. It must hunker down and become subservient to civilian rule and persuasion instead of embarking on new misadventures in the region like the proverbial Pied Piper. The road to hell is always paved with self-serving intentions.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

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