Tag Archives: momentum

Has a countdown begun in Islamabad?

By: Shaheen Sehbai

Zardari will have to make his decision very quickly on whether he wants to exit with dignity or become a martyr. The days, as they say, are in fact numbered.

ISLAMABAD: The crumbling presidential edifice in the bunkered palace with two green flags on the Constitution Avenue is giving rise to numerous stories, some fiction, some wishful thinking, and some partly true.

The man inside the house is reported by some to be collapsing while others say he is in a defiant mood and will fight till the last. One thing is clear though that a psywar is going on and President Asif Ali Zardari has not many friends who have unflinching faith and commitment to defend him.

The key role is being played by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and it is hard to figure out on whose side he really stands. His own political future is also at stake but his role has assumed the all critical importance because everyone is looking up to him, the civil and military establishment has put its power eggs in his basket as against the president, while his party remains confused and divided. The opposition and most of his coalition partners have abandoned the president but continue to back his handpicked prime minister.

The few who are still standing with Zardari include the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, whose latest brag that there would be no ‘minus-1’ but that if anything happened it would be a ‘minus-342’ (reference to total strength of the National Assembly) is considered by many as the final defeatist declaration that Zardari will not go alone but will take the entire house with him. There are not many takers for Taseer’s threats. On the contrary, the party which President Zardari considered to be his most dependable ally, the MQM of Altaf Hussain, has gone many steps forward to seek his removal from the top office. Almost everyone I met and talked to was surprised at the leap Altaf Hussain had taken from just opposing or abstaining from voting on the NRO to demanding the resignation of Zardari. It was like the last straw on the heavily loaded camel’s back and Zardari was stunned, those around him reported.

His attempt to save the sinking ship by calling Governor of Sindh Ishratul Ebad to Islamabad and then authorising Interior Minister Rehman Malik to fly to Dubai for urgent talks with an MQM delegation from London could be the last desperate effort but as someone who knows the scene reported, “The MQM has closed the doors and has gone to sleep,” meaning that it is no longer interested in seeing Zardari sitting in the Presidency.

Nice words wrapped in high sounding moral logic are being said by MQM to urge Zardari to make his exit dignified but Altaf Hussain is not backtracking from his demand of a resignation. He probably knows more than many in Islamabad. Even when Governor Ebad was rushing to Dubai on Wednesday night after meeting the president, the MQM made it a point to include the resignation issue in the agenda of the Dubai talks expected to begin on Friday.

Continue reading Has a countdown begun in Islamabad?

China Industrial Companies’ Profits Climb a Fourth Month

By Bloomberg News

Chinese industrial companies’ profits rose for a fourth month in December, adding to signs the country’s economic rebound is gaining momentum.

Net income increased 17.3 percent from a year earlier to 895 billion yuan ($144 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said today in Beijing, after a 22.8 percent jump in November. Earnings for the full year gained 5.3 percent.

Industrial profits may rise by an average 30 percent this year as the world’s second-biggest economy recovers from a seven-quarter slowdown, businesses start restocking and export demand improves, Standard Chartered Plc forecasts. Expansion in gross domestic product may accelerate to 8.1 percent this year from 7.8 percent in 2012, according to the median of 44 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey this month. …

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-27/china-industrial-companies-profits-climb-a-fourth-month.html

Balochistan: Silence of the courts

By Yunas Samad

Balochistan has been burning in the background for sometime, but what made Congress — to the embarrassment of the State Department and the Government of Pakistan — take up this issue now? Some say this was just a stunt but there is a growing frustration in Washington that Pakistan is double-dealing with the US; taking substantial aid dollars and then pursuing a strategy in Afghanistan which is costing lives of US soldiers. American troops have now been in Afghanistan longer than the Vietnam War, and there is considerable unhappiness with Pakistan for the grief it has caused them and an increasing desire, in some quarters, to hit back.

What is interesting is that for the first time, the international community is now reflecting on the possibility of an independent Balochistan, is being sold to them as a package, which would break-up Iran and Pakistan and give over Gwadar as a facility for the US fleet. Let’s be clear that this is a minority view; it is more of an attempt to embarrass Pakistan, but such developments can generate their own momentum and with time become a reality. Who would have thought that South Sudan or East Timor would become independent states? But those who live by the sword die by the sword and, this could easily be applied to countries.

Pakistan of all countries should be familiar with this theme after resorting to military force to deny the Bangladeshi people their democratic rights. Military solutions to political problems results in disaster and invite foreign intervention and we are repeating these mistakes again in Balochistan. Failure to resolve the human rights situation is creating opportunities for foreign intervention. From the extrajudicial execution of Akbar Bugti to the deaths of activists (1,100 according to Human Rights Watch and 10,000 according to Baloch activists) and their torture and disappearances are — in eyes of those critical of Pakistan, evidence of — crimes against humanity. Pakistani generals were fortunate that they weren’t dragged into an international court and prosecuted for war crimes after the Bangladesh civil war, mainly because such bodies could not function during the Cold War. However, in the unipolar world of today, we have seen Ratko Mladic of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, President of Liberia, Charles Taylor and Nuon Chea, of the Khmer Rouge all end up in court to get their comeuppance.

Our political leaders are in a huddle, trying to figure out how to respond to the crisis in Balochistan; idle resolutions condemning foreign interference are being passed but our judiciary remains inactive and silent on this issue. It is tragic that our activist judges have not seen the abuse of fundamental rights in Balochistan to be given priority, particularly since the Baloch disappearance case was an important reason for the clash between former General Pervez Musharraf and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Why cases about presidential corruption are considered more important than cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances beats me? It only resonates with the Baloch nationalist argument that they are not treated like Pakistani citizens and hence, want independence, even if it means becoming a satellite of the US. The best possible response to the Congressional hearing is for the judiciary to demonstrate that it actively safeguards the fundamental rights of all the citizens of Pakistan.

The judiciary needs to investigate the killing of Akbar Bugti and if necessary charge Musharraf, reopen the case on disappearances and threaten contempt charges against the agencies for ignoring their orders. The Supreme Court cannot sit idle and ignore these issues by risking greater foreign interference in the matter. It needs to demonstrate to the Baloch people and the world that they are, in fact, citizens of Pakistan and their rights are protected.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

Occupy the world

– by DAWN.COM

Inspired by the Wall Street rallies that began on September 17, protestors worldwide have joined in the movement against financiers and politicians they accuse of ruining global economies.

Dozens of cities across the world, including London, Frankfurt, Washington Australia, Tokyo and Hong Kong, are holding demonstrations today in a show of solidarity with “Occupy Wall Street”, which is being coined as the “people powered movement for democracy.”

According to participants, these non-violent demonstrations are being staged to be initiate global change.

As these protests gain momentum globally, comparisons have been made between the Occupy Wall Street protests and the recent demonstrations in several Arab countries, some of which have seen change as a result.

In your opinion, can these protests actually reform global financial systems and how our countries economies are governed?

Is there really such a thing as people’s power?

Read more » Dawn.com invites its readers to give their views and suggestions.

Arresting target killers: Malik warned me to stop or army will topple govt, says Mirza

By Suleman Saadat

SINDH – KARACHI: The grave allegations continue to trickle in as Zulfiqar Mirza’s travelling political spectacle gains popular momentum.

At a massive public gathering in Lyari on Friday, the former home minister claimed he had apprehended target killers from ‘sector offices’ with heavy arms and ammunition but had to release them on Rehman Malik’s orders.

In a fiery speech at the end of a several-hour-long rally across the city, Mirza alleged that Malik had warned him that the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence would topple the government if target killers were arrested.

“I released the killers because I wanted to see Pakistan flourish,” Mirza said to an enthralled audience. ….

Read more → The Express Tribune

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

Siraiki Province: PML-N Falling Into Zardari’s Trap; To Be Limited To Central Punjab

By: Aziz Narejo

In a glaring example of cynical, reactionary and unprincipled politics, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif the other day demanded that Sindh be divided and Karachi be made a province. His statement justifiably created furore in Sindh and the parliamentary parties including PPP, MQM and ANP as well as other politicians and activists swiftly condemned the unimaginative and unscrupulous statement by the PML-N leader.

The PML-N government and Punjabi nationalists seem to be under considerable pressure as the demand for a separate Siraiki province is gathering momentum in southern Punjab but this was most crooked and uncalled for response that could ever come from anyone with even the slightest political wisdom. PML-N leader was obviously trying to get back with the PPP. It may be noted that PM Gilani has suggested the creation of a new province in southern Punjab and PPP manifesto committee is deliberating to make it a part of the PPP manifesto for next elections.

No Sindhi would have any objections if Shahbaz Sharif, other PML-N leaders and Punjabis as a whole turn into nationalists but all the Punjabis and others should understand that Sindh and PPP are not ONE and the same. They are two separate entities. PML-N can’t and shouldn’t get back with the PPP by hurting Sindh. It must agree or disagree with the Siraiki people’s demand for a separate province with the force of arguments and not by playing tit for tat, conspiratorial and ugly politics.

PML-N should also realize that with this kind of politics they will be completely routed out from Sindh and their aspirations to become a “national” party or to form next government will die for ever.

Do they understand that this is exactly what PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari wants the PML-N to do? Are they willingly falling into the trap set by Zardari ..? Do they realize that with this kind of politics, they will forever become a Central Punjab party? Are there any sane elements in PML-N who would rein in Shahbaz Sharif and the likes of him in their party? Guess not. Good luck to them on their journey to doom.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

Problems of Sindhi Nationalism – What way forward?

Written by Dr Beenish Shoro

Excerpt:

…. In Pakistan the national question exists in its worst form because Pakistan itself is an example of a failed nation state. Pakistan was created as a result of the partition of the Indian subcontinent as the British imperialists and the local/national bourgeois leaders feared that a united national liberation would not stop there but would move towards a social transformation that would overthrow landlordism, capitalism and the imperialist strangle hold. To avoid a socialist revolution they conspired and split the movement along religious lines that led to the reactionary and traumatic partition of a land that had more than five thousand years of common history, cultural and socio economic existence.

Pakistan was founded not as a nation state, but as a state made up of nationalities. Even the abbreviations which form the word Pakistan are a testimony to this fact. This corresponds to its belated character. … National oppression has been brutal and rough ever since the country came into being. ….

….the separation of Bangladesh, the inability to resolve regional and sectarian disputes, the inability to sustain a clear concept and direction to Pakistan’s Nationalism and finally failure to create a modern cohesive nation state.

Pakistan’s political system is dominated by elite groups. In addition it faces the dilemma of chronic military rule. ….

….Sindh, the southern most province of the state possesses one of the most varied demographical set-ups in Pakistan. There is a very fragile ethnic balance between Sindhis and non-Sindhis. After partition many of the immigrants from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in India moved mainly to Karachi, but also to Hyderabad, Sukkur and other cities of Sindh.

This massive influx of Mohajirs from India and other nationalities resulted in a greater control of people from this transmigration over the economy, jobs and posts in the state apparatus. Although this phenomenon had a greater impact on urban Sindh, the deprivation was felt also in rural Sindh especially amongst the Sindhi middle classes. The acquisition of State and other lands by Punjab Generals and other settlers further aggravated this feeling of national deprivation amongst the Sindhi populace. There are several other factors which fuelled these sentiments. ….

….At the heart of nationalist sentiments in Pakistan is the perception by non-Punjabis that the Punjabi nationality dominates the economy, politics, society and the state. There is considerable evidence to support this perception. First, Punjabis constitute a majority of the population, approximately 60%; second, they dominate the civilian bureaucracy and the military; third, the Punjab is by far the wealthiest and most developed province in the state. And this perception is ironically fuelled by governmental policies designed to assuage such perceptions. ….

…. G. M. Syed can rightly be considered as the founder of Sindhi nationalism. He formed the Sindh Progressive Party in 1947 and demanded provincial autonomy within a socialist framework. In 1953 he formed the SindhAwami Mahaz. G. M. Syed himself a middle sized landlord represented the grievances of that class as well. …

… There have been several movements in Sindh over the last 60 years but there are three very significant mass upsurges that shook the echelons of power in Islamabad. These are the movements of 1968-69, 1983 and to some extent that of 1986. All these movements had different intensities, character, orientation and motivations. …

Zia was the son of a Mullah who had migrated from Eastern (Indian) Punjab and was American-trained at Fort Bragg. His atrocities, his make up and his background were enough to provoke massive hatred from the masses in Sindh. Zia’s repression of the Sindh was no less than the brutalities of British colonialists inflicted upon the mass of the subcontinent and other colonies. All this unleashed a glorious movement of the Sindhi masses against the military dictatorship. Although this movement had significant nationalist overtones, fundamentally it was linked to the general class resentment against this regime.

The movement failed because the regime was able to foster ethnic and nationalist discord especially in urban Sindh and in other main cities and provinces of Pakistan. In Karachi the Pakistani state devised the instrument of the MQM, the Punjabi Pushtoon Ittehad, Islamic fundamentalists and other reactionary outfits to break the momentum of struggle that was developing along class lines.

Still the movement raged on. In such circumstances whenever national antagonisms coincided with class contradictions they became especially hot. According to the official figures 1263 innocent people were slaughtered by the army in rural Sindh while thousands more were injured. There are heroic episodes of resistance that have now become legends in Sindhi folklore. …

… In 1986 the movement in Sindh was actually the last nail in Zia’s coffin. …

… If we in Sindh should achieve “freedom” through the same phenomenon as in Bangladesh we may well get freedom from non-Sindhi capitalists, but we will be all the more cruelly exploited by Sindhi capitalists and landlords. These nationalists do not want freedom from poverty, misery, unemployment; they just want freedom to establish control over their own market where they could extract a huge surplus by squeezing the last drop of the workers’ blood.

The feudal landlords want freedom to exploit the peasants and working class …

… We will take revenge for the crime of partition of India through the formation of a Red Revolutionary Subcontinent. As Comrade Lal khan says, “The unification of the Indian subcontinent will be on a much higher plane than the 1947 Partition.” …

To read full article :→ Marxist.com

Possibility of “revolution” in Pakistan?

Ripe for revolution? – By Mahreen Khan

…. Despite a wave of public protests, Egypt is unlikely to emulate Tunisia, due to factors also present in Pakistan. Egypt has a sharp religious divide between Coptics and Muslims as well as numerous Islamic groups pitted against each other. Arab analysts cite low levels of literacy and a general feeling of apathy and defeatism in the population as further reasons that Egypt will continue to fester rather than revolt. Pakistan has these and additional factors which militate against a revolution: deep and multiple ethnic, linguistic, tribal and sectarian fault lines; a paucity of alternative intellectual narratives, radical leaders or strong unions; and an elected government and freedom of speech. Ironically, democratic elections and free speech help perpetuate the corrupt, unjust stranglehold of the feudal-industrial power elite. Revolutionary forces require a moral impetus that illegitimate dictatorship provides but elected government does not. Secondly, frustration needs to simmer under a repressive regime until it reaches the temperature for mass revolt. Pakistan’s free media allows an outlet for public dissatisfaction. The often harsh treatment of politicians and police officials at the hands of journalists and judges ameliorates public anger. Vocal opposition parties, unhindered street protests and strikes allow a regular release of fury, draining the momentum necessary for the emotional surge that revolutionary zeal requires. …

Read more : The Express Tribune