Tag Archives: power

Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

The region became a great melting pot of races, ideas, civilisations and competing military campaigners

Like a delusive people, Muslims in general and we in Pakistan in particular are trapped in the numbing nostalgia of our past Muslim glory. Nostalgia helps one to reflect and reminisce, therefore by itself is not so debilitating but there are a few problems here. First, we tend to easily forget that history always has a context and is relevant to its time of occurrence; only its lessons last. Secondly, nostalgia-less, a matching will and means to re-perform is toxic and harmful. Without a proper understanding of these two imperatives, an urge to be highly regarded as before is dangerously flawed and can give way to undue bitterness. In order to understand this phenomenon we have to examine what kind of sentiment has been implanted in Pakistan.

Driven by our nostalgia, which has been eagerly fed by our romantic but somewhat falsifying historians, fantasising writers, educationists, politicians, self-serving mullahs and other story tellers, we go on glorifying our non-existent charm as the chosen followers of a great faith, members of a glorious race, descendents of ruling classes, future rulers of the world and what not. Unfortunately that track leads to nowhere. Folk stories are a good pastime but do not make communities, people or nations any greater. A longing that spurs effort to become greater is positive, but to merely slither around like an earth worm is a psychosis that leads to mental and moral debility.

One has been to North Africa, Italy, Greece, Iran, Turkey, Hijaz on the Red Sea, and a large number of European countries in addition to Malaysia, India, Thailand, US and UK. Our subcontinent, Italy, Greece and Iran had been the bastions of great civilisations, which held sway over vast territories and enjoyed magnificent power and prestige. Ukraine, Hijaz, Turkey, Thailand, Austria and Malaysia had been the honourable hosts for great civilisations and dutiful custodians of the passage. Nowhere did one hear a pining for the past glory more deafening than the neurotic chorus in India and Pakistan.

In Pakistan, our neurosis is manifold and is quite hopelessly mashed by the hooves of the frequent invaders who galloped down the passes of the Hindu Kush and Suleiman Mountains over the centuries. Why is it that we in Pakistan prefer to wallow in this thick, sticky stew of muddied history that is blinding us to the world around us and isolating us increasingly? We will see in a short while.

Continue reading Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

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The Twilight of American Empire?

By John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus

As people near retirement age, they enter the twilight years. Sometimes, they rebel against retirement. They want to keep working. They‘re not interested in shuffling out of their office never to return. And if they’re in fact the owner of the workplace, conflicts often ensue. Those who have power rarely want to give up that power.

The United States is relatively young as a country. It is even younger as the “leader of the free world.” But for at least three decades, reports have circulated that the American empire has entered its twilight years, perhaps even its dotage.

The U.S. government itself cautioned us to scale back our expectations in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter called on Americans to cut back on consumerism and adjust to an age of diminishing expectations. Then, after the Reagan rebound, we were warned by Yale professor Paul Kennedy of imperial overstretch in the late 1980s. The Clinton years saved us from bankruptcy and the George W. Bush administration again reasserted American power in the world.

But now, the United States has again sunk into economic malaise and the wars of the last decade have left the country badly bruised. Historian Alfred McCoy believes the U.S. empire won‘t make it until 2025. Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung pulls the horizon a little closer to 2025. It’s also possible that the empire already ended and somebody forgot to make the announcement. In 2011, Standard and Poor‘s removed the United States from its list of risk-free borrowers, putting us below Canada and Australia. That could very well have been the death knell.

Predicting the end of American empire is complicated by the fact that the United States is not a traditional empire. It does not try to maintain territorial control over distant lands (though many residents of Hawai’i and Guam might disagree). It doesn‘t practice a straightforward policy of pillaging overseas possessions for their material wealth. It practices a form of consensual give-and-take with its allies in Europe and Asia.

But the American Goliath does straddle the globe militarily, with hundreds and hundreds of military bases and Special Forces operating in 71 countries. The United States remains number one in the dubious categories of overall military spending and overall military exports.

Economically, the United States attempts to use the size of its economy to negotiate favorable deals with smaller countries (think: NAFTA) and often defines its national security priorities by their proximity to valuable natural resources (think: oil). It wields disproportionate influence in international economic organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Culturally, Hollywood and the music industry and the television studios all set the standard for cool around the world. English is the world language, and the dollar (for now) is the world currency.

This is, in other words, an empire of consent. Other governments ask for our military bases (though often over the objections of their citizens). Other governments want to trade with the United States. No one makes people watch Avatar or Titanic, the top-grossing movies worldwide. No one forces consumers at gunpoint to eat at McDonald’s or drink Coca-Cola. It‘s true that Washington does what it can to tilt the playing field – through export subsidies, diplomatic arm-twisting, and the occasional show of force. And it can be a very lonely world for those countries, like North Korea, that consistently defy the United States. But this still remains a much more complex set of relationships than Pax Romana or Pax Brittanica.

However one defines U.S. power, though, a fundamental shift is clearly taking place in the world. China is slated to surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy as early as 2016. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, many people already believe that China has done so. Indeed, if measured by purchasing power, China nosed past the United States a couple years ago.

It‘s not just China. The other celebrated members of the BRICS – Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa – are more quietly building up their economic and geopolitical power. Then there’s MIST – Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey – another group of rising powers. The proliferation of other groupings – the Next 11, CIVETS – all testifies to the transformation of world power.

Meanwhile, the United States is behaving like a country desperately trying to maintain its edge. It has proclaimed a “Pacific pivot” even though it doesn‘t have the resources to execute any significant shift from the Middle East to Asia. It has attempted to maintain unsustainable levels of military spending at a time of serious budget constraints. It has tried to maintain a surveillance state in the face of considerable challenges from both individuals and organizations. Detroit has gone bankrupt; bridges have collapsed in Washington state and Arizona; thousands in New York and New Jersey are still homeless after last year’s Hurricane Sandy; gun violence annually claims tens of thousands of lives.

And on the issues where the world truly needs leadership – global warming, global poverty, global militarism – the United States is either out to lunch or very much part of the problem.

An aging chief executive who resists calls for retirement will often whip out their trump card: apr?s moi, le deluge! In other words, if the top person goes, whatever their vices might be, the organization will collapse because no one else can provide effective leadership.

John Feffer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) at the Institute for Policy Studies. His articles and books can be found at http://www.johnfeffer.com. His latest book is Crusade 2.0 (City Lights, 2012).

The views presented in this column are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Hankyoreh.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

Courtesy: the hankyoreh
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/597923.html

GravityLight: a revolutionary new approach

GravityLight: lighting for developing countries.

We have developed a realistic alternative to Kerosene lamps by harnessing the power of gravity. We need your help to make it happen.

GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free.

Following the initial inspiration of using gravity, and years of perspiration, we have refined the design and it is now ready for production. We need your help to fund the tooling, manufacture and distribution of at least 1000 gravity powered lights. We will gift them to villagers in both Africa and India to use regularly. The follow-up research will tell us how well the lights met their needs, and enable us to refine the design for a more efficient MK2 version. Once we have proved the design, we will be looking to link with NGOs and partners to distribute it as widely as possible. When mass produced the target cost for this light is less than $5.

Why GravityLight?

Did you know that there are currently over 1.5 billion people in the World who have no reliable access to mains electricity? These people rely, instead, on biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) for lighting once the sun goes down.

Continue reading GravityLight: a revolutionary new approach

Holding Onto Life

By Rev. Lou Kavar Ph.D.

The emotions caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting them, particularly during a meditation class. I had no realization this was something about which I felt so deeply. I sat with forty or fifty others in the Buddhist meditation hall. The leader guided us in meditation to consider the ways we are attached to things that bring us suffering. As he spoke, we were reminded of ways that people value wealth and possessions, power and influence, or position and reputation. As he went through the list, I thought about the ways I value having nice things and receiving respect from others. He reminded us that all things we’re attached to will pass from our lives. One day, they will all be gone. If our happiness is based on them, what becomes of our happiness?

That’s when an overwhelming sadness welled up within me. Tears began to stream down my face. My emotional response had nothing to do with my worldly possessions, accomplishments, or the esteem of others. Instead, the awareness came to me that one day I would lose what I valued so much: my relationship with a spouse, my companion and friend.

The truth is that I’m not much bothered by my own death. I recognize that life has been very good to me. But for ten years, I’ve shared my life with another. I simply don’t want it to ever end. Recognizing that I am the older person, I know that I am likely to die first. The thought of leaving my beloved and not seeing life continue to unfold was simply overwhelming.

During the break between sessions, I spoke with one of the other participants. She noticed I had a strong reaction to the meditation. As I tried to put words around my experience, she said that she too was struck by her mortality – even though the leader never drew us to consider that our lives would end.

Over the last few days I’ve sat with these feelings. I’ve tried to understand them, particularly in light of the Buddhist teaching of impermanence. It’s a simple lesson found in other great spiritual traditions. Every thing is always in a state of flux. Every thing that exists is changing. What is today will be different tomorrow. When we try to hold onto what is now, we are only left with frustration because it will change. That’s the nature of the lives we lead.

Continue reading Holding Onto Life

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina tells opposition leader Khalida Zia: “Go to your ‘Pyara Pakistan”

Go to Pakistan

PM tells Khaleda, accuses her of instigating army

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday accused the leader of the opposition of instigating the army to take over power unconstitutionally, sensing her defeat in the next election.

“Begum Zia could understand it very well that people of the country would not give vote to a corrupt party like BNP, and for her movement to protect the war criminals,” she said.

She (Khaleda Zia) must know that the situation of 1975 and 2013 are not the same, Hasina told a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.

The premier said the BNP leader still believes in grabbing power by climbing on the shoulder of the army as she has no faith in democracy and public support.

Mentioning that the real face of the BNP leader has now got exposed before people, Hasina said “Go to your (Khaleda’s) ‘Pyara Pakistan’, you’ll feel good there,” reports UNB.

Continue reading Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina tells opposition leader Khalida Zia: “Go to your ‘Pyara Pakistan”

Chinese company places dome on Pakistan’s Chasma 3 Nuclear Reactor

The first of two reactors being constructed in the Punjab region of Pakistan by Chinese companies has passed a significant milestone with the emplacement of its dome.

The operation to fit the dome was completed on 6 March, China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) reported. Two 340 MWe pressurised water reactors (PWRs) are under construction at the site, which has China Zhongyuan Engineering as the general contractor and China Nuclear Industry No.5 Construction Company as installer. The reactor design was provided by the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering and Research Design Institute.

Chashma 3 and Chashma 4 are expected to begin commercial operation in 2016 and 2017 respectively, although SNPTC said that the unit 3 dome lift was carried out ahead of schedule. The new units will add to the generation already provided by Chashma 1 and 2 – 300 MWe PWRs also supplied by China. Only one other power reactor operates in the country, a 125 MWe pressurised heavy water reactor at Karachi (Kanupp). All units are owned and operated by the state-owned Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

Continue reading Chinese company places dome on Pakistan’s Chasma 3 Nuclear Reactor

Making energy from waste : 25 MW Rachna Power Plant on the cards

LAHORE: National Industrial Parks (NIP) Development and Management Company has decided to establish a 25 megawatt (MW) power generation plant based on municipal and agro waste besides local coal or combination of these fuels for the electricity requirement of the industries at the Rachna Industrial Park on the main Lahore-Sheikhupura Road.

The Rachna Power Plant will be the first-ever power unit to be developed on the basis of waste as a source of energy. The plant’s primary fuel will be Refused Derive Fuel (RDF) prepared from a mixture of municipal solid wastes and agro wastes, while the coal would be used as a backup fuel.

The technology of an integrated recovery of recyclable materials and production of the refused derive fuel will be adopted for this power plant.

The concept of the modern waste to energy plant has been proposed for the Rachna Power Plant, which is very different from the old incinerators due to the technological progress of the last decade.

Chief Executive Officer Mohsin Syed at NIP meeting in which investors of the Rechna Industrial Park were also present said the municipal solid waste of Lahore and surrounding area and the agro wastes, which including rice husk, corn and wood waste of the adjoining areas would be collected and transported to recycle it into a real fuel that could be easily stored, transported and efficiently burned at the plant site within the premises of the Rachna Industrial Park.

He said the power generation complex was proposed to consist of one unit of 6 MW and two units of 11 MW each with total gross capacity of the 28 MW and the net capacity at site would be 25.5 MW to provide operational flexibility and reliability in case of shut down of one or more units.

The power generation facility would be located within the premises of the Rachna Industrial Park located at 7.5 kilometers (km) Lahore-Sheikhupura Road on the Upper Chenab Canal. The site is at the distance of 18 km from the

Lahore-Shekhupura Motorway Interchange, 24 km from the Lahore city centre and 40 km from the Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore and an area of 10 acres has already been earmarked for the power generation complex at the Rachna Industrial Park, the NIP chief explained.

Continue reading Making energy from waste : 25 MW Rachna Power Plant on the cards

US scientists turn bags into batteries

The US is investing millions of dollars in a new centre designed to recycle used plastic bags, turning them into batteries that can power everything from smartphones to electric cars. Al Jazeera’s John Hendren spent a day at the government laboratory near Chicago where scientists have made a breakthrough in green technology.

Read more » Al Jazeera
http://www.aljazeera.com/video/americas/2013/02/2013218111949627594.html

The Ingredients for a Glorious Pakistan

By Saeed Qureshi

Throughout its existence since August 14, 1947; Pakistan has perennially remained in troubled waters. From the anarchy of the initial years to the interspersing of democratic stints, to military dictatorships, it has been overshadowed by a constant threat of disintegration as a state. This disintegration came off in 1971 when its eastern part then known as East Pakistan was truncated.

While East Pakistan changed her nomenclature to Bangladesh, the West wing came to be known as Pakistan. It was a cataclysmic event that happened in contemporary history when a state dismembered barely 24 years after its birth and independence from the colonial rule.

All these years, Pakistan earned strictures such as a failed state, a country not viable to stay on the world map and a nation moving towards eventual extinction or another disintegration a la East Pakistan. Pakistani society is infested with myriad chronic problems that range from poor social and utility services to unstable or dysfunctional institutions and sway of reactionary cutthroat religious militants. The competent, efficacious, egalitarian and public welfare oriented governance has ever remained elusive.

Continue reading The Ingredients for a Glorious Pakistan

Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

By Matthew Green and Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters): A month ago, Muhammad Tahirul Qadri was living quietly in Canada, immersed in the affairs of his Islamic charity and seemingly far removed from the pre-election power games shaping the fate of politicians in his native Pakistan.

In the past three weeks, he has returned home to lead a call for electoral reforms that has earned him instant celebrity, sent a stab of anxiety through the ruling class and raised fears of trouble at a planned rally in Islamabad on Monday.

“Our agenda is just democratic electoral reforms,” Qadri told Reuters in the eastern city of Lahore, the headquarters of his Minhaj-ul-Quran religious foundation. “We don’t want the law-breakers to become our lawmakers.”

Continue reading Pakistani cleric: catalyst for change or military stooge?

Is Pakistan going to become a “moderate Muslims” country?

Tahirul Qadri asks govt to bring ‘change’ by Jan 10

By Web Desk

LAHORE: Allama Tahirul Qadri, head of Minhajul Qur’an International (MQI), said the government should improve the current setup by January 10 or else he will lead a protest march to Islamabad on January 14.

Qadri was addressing a gathering named “Siyasat nahi, Riyasat bachao” at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore.

Criticising those in power, Qadri said in order to save the country, the people of Pakistan must decide if they will let corrupt people represent them.

Referring to the recent investigative report on country’s lawmakers who don’t pay taxes, Qadri said such people should not be allowed to become a part of the parliament.

“How can people who themselves break laws be allowed to sit in the parliament,” he said.

He also said that the parliament formulates laws that are in favour of the lawmakers rather than the people of Pakistan.

Speaking about his political plans, Qadri said his entire agenda is in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan.

He further added that the much-anticipated election should take place but the concerned authorities should ensure it is conducted according to the Constitution.

Continue reading Is Pakistan going to become a “moderate Muslims” country?

Bartering away Sindh Rights to remain in power is a wound that would never heal!

By: Khalid Hashmani

It is an unimaginable tragedy that the political party that Sindhis overwhelmingly voted for has turned around and stuck the most devastating dagger in the heart of Sindh. Sindhis in Sindh and else where in the world are feeling deeply betrayed and hurt by this action of PPP. They are not likely to forget and forgive this betrayal by a political party that had pledged protect and advance Sindhi rights.

I feel embarrassed to have urged my family and friends back home to vote for PPP in the last elections. I feel ashamed to have pleaded with others on this forum to give PPP some more time to deliver on their commitments when others were expressing disappointment with the PPP after few months of their government.

I must admit that I had never expected that PPP will be the main architect of laying foundations for the dismemberment of Sindh and strengthening a system that denies equal rights to Sindhis in large cities of Sindh. I know of no example where a political party so bluntly and stupidly bartered away the aspirations and rights of those who gave their 100% support.

Two other examples come to mind from Sindh’s past history – Chanesar’s support of Alla-uddin Khilji’s attack on Sindh so that he will become ruler of Sindh and the act of Sindhi members in Sindh’s Parliament in supporting the creation of one unit. History is the witness that in both cases the unjust actions and changes were ultimately defeated. Dodo Soomro gave his life and left example of sacrifice and love for Sindh for generations to come and the annulment of “one unit” within few years.

I have a belief that like “one unit”, this forced imposition of unnatural, artificial, rejected, controversial dual system that creates two governance system in Sindh will too see the same fate. Sindhis must not accept this unpatriotic division of Sindh and must continue the struggle to have one uniform system governance in Sindh. The struggle for reversion must be continued as we did against “one unit”.

We must urge our families and friends never to vote for any political party or group that has supported or will support this artificial dual system. We must encourage and foster a movement that will result reversion of this unjust division in near future.

PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

The likelyhood of death sentence being awarded to an 11 year old for alleged blasphemy is symptomatic of the naked abuse of power exercised by religious zealots

By Ayesha Siddiqa, Independent Social Scientist

Let us roll a dice and guess who is more lucky: Abbas, tortured and burnt to death for allegedly blasphemy, or Rimsha who may survive death but will forever be scarred for being nearly sentenced to death on similar charges? Some will probably consider the young Christian girl lucky, compared to Abbas and scores of others who suffered under the archaic blasphemy law.

Continue reading PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

The missing link to renewable energy

What’s the key to using alternative energy, like solar and wind? Storage — so we can have power on tap even when the sun’s not out and the wind’s not blowing. In this accessible, inspiring talk, Donald Sadoway takes to the blackboard to show us the future of large-scale batteries that store renewable energy. As he says: “We need to think about the problem differently. We need to think big.

Courtesy: Ted.com » YouTube

‘Ousting PM instead of Parliament is the new khaki tactic’

By: Adnan Farooq

It goes without saying that the first thing which the Supreme Court will ask the next PM to do is to write the letter to the Swiss authorities. He will refuse too and the game continues

The Supreme Court’s verdict to disqualify Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani “is not a routine democratic change”, according to Ayesha Siddiqa. “In fact, it represents the new tactics of the military and its agencies,” she says.

Author of ‘Military Inc’, Ayesha Siddiqa is internationally known analyst on military and political affairs.

Commenting on the latest political developments in the country in an interview with the Viewpoint, she says: “Instead of ousting the entire Parliament, the military gets rid of prime ministers which has the same effect meaning a weak democracy. The judges seem to have become party to this”. Read on:

The opinion on Supreme Court’s verdict on Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani’s disqualification is divided. In general, the Opposition is hailing the verdict while the PPP and liberal circles are presenting it as a coup by other means. How do you assess the situation?

This is an intense political battle in which the Supreme Court is not neutral but a party as well. Look at the Supreme Court’s comparative behavior. There are times when it bails out murderers and looters but does not spare the ruling party in particular. Its wrath is mainly for the PPP and the chief judge seems to be making sure that he can ensure the PPP government’s ouster especially since he is now worried about his son being investigated.

Continue reading ‘Ousting PM instead of Parliament is the new khaki tactic’

Load shedding in America!

Rolling Blackouts: a Black Eye For Texas?

By Dave Fehling

There’s fear in Austin over what could happen if the state runs short of electricity and has to use rolling blackouts to keep the statewide electrical grid from collapsing.

The fear is for the state’s image.

At a meeting of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) June 13th, Chairman Donna Nelson expressed concern that pleas to the public to conserve electricity during the late afternoon when demand is greatest might also send a message that Texas was running out of power and therefore was no place you’d want to do business. ….

Read more » State Impact

http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/06/27/rolling-blackouts-a-black-eye-for-texas/

When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

The decision is being seen as the ‘decision by the Punjabi court’. The disqualification was celebrated and sweets were distributed only in Punjab

At last, the judicial coup!

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has finally been toppled. By whom? By the opposition parties with the support of ‘independent’ judiciary or by the ‘Supreme Judicial Party’ with the facilitation of opposition parties which challenged the National Assembly Speaker’s ruling through petitions? This is still under discussion. Some people say the court had the blessing of the army to do the task which the army itself could not do, though it has much experience of the sort, because of perhaps unfavourable strategic and geo-political conditions.

Others, however, are of the opinion that the apex court is a crucial part of the Pakistani establishment, which hardly believes in the supremacy of the parliament, and the verdict is outcome of its own loyalty towards the ideology of the state and the establishment. In this regard, they quote a recent observation made by Mr. Justice Jawad S Khwaja while hearing the contempt of court case against Mr. Gilani. Justice Khwaja remarked: “the judiciary was an independent organ of the state and was answerable to the people not the parliament.” This is, however, not clear how the judges are answerable to the people when they are not elected by them. People hardly know how and by whom they are chosen, selected and nominated.

The disqualification of the prime minister by the apex court is under criticism by a part of the lawyers’ community and a section of the media. The Express Tribune in its editorial under the headline “A Judicial Coup?” on June 20 says, “The Supreme Court, in claiming to represent the will of the people, has removed from power the people’s representative saying that he stood disqualified from being a member of parliament and hence the office of the prime minister since April 26 — the day he was found guilty of contempt. Support for the decision may not be unanimous mainly because of recent developments, especially where the Honourable Court was dragged into the Arsalan Iftikhar matter

Continue reading When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

Parliament cannot legislate against constitution, Islam: CJ

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top judge has said that the Parliament cannot legislate any law repugnant to Constitution, injunctions of Islam and contrary to fundamental laws.

“If such law is promulgated, Supreme Court under its power of Judicial Review can review it. The underlying object of judicial review is to check abuse of power by public functionaries and ensuring just and fair treatment to citizens in accordance with law and constitutional norms.” …

Read more » DAWN.COM

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

Having already ousted one prime minister this week, Pakistan’s courts on Thursday sabotaged the appointment of a replacement by ordering the arrest of the man nominated to take up the job.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

The extraordinary move deepens the sense of political crisis in a country already reeling from an Islamist insurgency, economic woes and crippling power shortages.

Mahkdoom Shahabuddin, who most recently served as Textiles Minister, was due to be voted into office by parliament on Friday, replacing Yousuf Raza Gilani who was disqualified by the Supreme Court earlier this week.

Mr Shahabuddin was selected by President Asif Ali Zardari after two days of talks as the man best able to keep his coalition government alive until elections due early next year.

But no sooner had his name been announced than an arrest warrant was issued for his alleged role in a corruption scandal involving controlled drugs.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior figure in Mr Zardari’s Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP), said the arrest warrant was the latest attempt by unelected judges to bring down the government.

“This has been going on for one and a half years,” he said. “If they really believe he is involved why have they waited until today to issue an arrest warrant?”

Party leaders were meeting on Thursday night to select an alternative candidate. Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja Parvez Ashraf, both former ministers in Mr Gilani’s cabinet, filed nomination papers for the post ahead of Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Pakistan’s civilian government, military and judiciary are locked in a three-way tussle for supremacy.

Continue reading Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

Whenever some of our preconceived myths are shattered by a stark, unyielding and yet truthful reality, we tend to revert to denial and a refusal to face up to the facts as they are

The Supreme Court’s short order in the Arsalan Iftikhar case absolving the Honourable Chief Justice (CJ) without any investigation or examination of any evidence in the underlying imbroglio is premature. It is in fact contradicted by the Supreme Court’s own statement in this order: “…the Supreme Court (SC)…cannot judge the guilt or innocence of the parties without evidence or trial…” So how is this ruling not applicable to the CJ, who is so intertwined in this scandal being the father of one of the main suspects, and whose judicial power is at the heart of this corruption scandal?

This is in way to imply that the CJ is guilty but there cannot be an exemption from inquiry and investigation along with other participants and witnesses, for possible criminal violations based just on mere words of one of the parties. Who is Malik Riaz to give a clean bill of health to the CJ? It is strange that the SC is relying on the good word of Malik Riaz whom the former considers to be an accused fit to be prosecuted for some serious criminal offences under Pakistan’s criminal laws.

To contend that the media is maligning the judiciary by highlighting this scandal is to blame the messenger and not the message. Let us not be sidetracked, for now at least, by corruption in the media, which no doubt prevails, but which is less important than the imperative of our judiciary to have an unassailable reputation and an image above reproach. Conducting a thorough probe or inquiry of all those allegedly involved, including the Honourable CJ, will clear rather than tarnish the judiciary’s reputation and remove the dark clouds hanging over our most esteemed institution.

The nation has a right to know answers to such vital questions as how long the CJ knew about his son’s involvement with Malik Riaz and how many meetings the CJ had with Malik Riaz before the matter was seized through a suo motu action. The only other acceptable alternative to such an inquiry would be for the CJ to quit honourably in the larger interests of the judiciary and the country.

Continue reading One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

Democracy under threat

By: Asma Jahangir

THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

Continue reading Democracy under threat

ANALYSIS: Sindh — fox guarding the henhouse — By Mohammad Ali Mahar

Sindhis overwhelmingly voted for the PPP, mainly due to the fear that supporting smaller groups would be tantamount to bringing their oppressor, namely the MQM, back to power

The English language expression of a fox guarding a henhouse could not have been better illustrated than through the Liyari operation and the incidents of May 22 in Karachi.

Throughout the 65 years of the country’s existence, Sindh has suffered incessantly but never as severely and as brutally as during the last four years of the government elected chiefly through the Sindhi vote. Granted, there have been times of suppression and repression during successive military regimes, latest of which being General Musharraf’s misrule. However, the military regimes cannot be blamed as much — for theirs was a clear-cut and naked repression and not disguised in the garb of democracy — as is the case this time around.

Sometimes, the Sindhi feels that he is being punished by the divine power for bringing into power a gang of men and women well known for their misdeeds than any good they may have done in their lives. That there was no other choice for Sindhis at that time is something completely overlooked by the chastising powers.

Sindhis overwhelmingly voted for the PPP, mainly due to the fear that supporting smaller groups would, they thought, be tantamount to bringing their oppressor, namely the MQM, back to power. Having endured long years of repression at the hands of the MQM and Musharraf’s marionettes in Sindh during his quasi-military rule and losing their beloved leader, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Sindhis thought that the return of the PPP to power would mean an end to their suffering. What they did not know at that time and have learned the hard way is that by voting the PPP to power, they got exactly what they wanted to avoid in the first place. The situation as it is right now is such that half of Sindh is being governed by the MQM and the other half by someone named Owais Tappi — nobody knows who exactly this gentleman is. There being many stories surrounding Mr Tappi’s persona and his alleged mysterious relationship to Mr Zardari.

Then there is a third force — the Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Running the internal affairs of Sindh from the Centre through such a man of questionable credentials as Malik is the biggest insult to the Sindhi voter’s trust. That a man the former Home Minister of Sindh, Zulfiqar Mirza, publicly accused of facilitating and abetting the criminals belonging to the MQM, remains responsible for the affairs of Sindh, raises a number of questions regarding the party leadership, especially Mr Zardari’s sincerity regarding maintenance of peace in Sindh and his lack of sensitivity to Sindhi sentiment. Why, when other ministers keep changing on trivial excuses, the demand to remove Malik from the affairs of Sindh falls on deaf ears despite the colossal damage he has done to the party in Sindh? An example has been made of Babar Awan, who at times proved to be more loyal to the king than the king himself, but fell from grace when he refused to testify in favour of Mr. Gilani. Why then a person who, a PPP jiyala asks, caused the death of tens of people in Liyari and wiped the PPP from the walls and streets of its strongest fort as well as hearts of its inhabitants, is still there?

It is said that the leadership of the ruling party has business interests to share with Malik and therefore they cannot afford to alienate him, but can he not be given some other, maybe a better job to do, and leave Sindh alone? Why do the boundaries of his ministry end at Sindh and not include Punjab, where he belongs and where life is tougher for the PPP supporters than elsewhere in the country? Why is he protecting a particular linguistic terrorist group, when even the security agencies acknowledge the party’s foreign connection? The bigger question is who/what is the power behind Malik and the MQM seeing to it that they continue to do whatever they are doing with impunity? Do they really share the same paymaster, as it is widely perceived?

As though his actions are not deadly enough for the party, the wounds that Malik inflicts through his insensible remarks — an example being his statements at the time of the Liyari operation and the incident of May 22 — have ensured that Mr Zardari’s party is going to have a hard time in the next elections, at least in Sindh.

From the Liyari operation and the incident of May 22, 2012, when naked terrorism was let loose on the peaceful rally of the unarmed sons and daughters of the soil, one thing has emerged clearly that the PPP has lost all hopes of winning the next elections, especially in Sindh. It looks like all they want is to complete this term at any cost, even at the cost of Sindhi lives.

Unleashing Malik on Sindh brings to one’s mind another English proverb of letting the bull in the china shop. All that the Bhuttos built painfully over the years, Malik has destroyed in four years and made sure that when the next elections come, the PPP is seen nowhere in the province.

Continue reading ANALYSIS: Sindh — fox guarding the henhouse — By Mohammad Ali Mahar

Iran to Boost Power Exports to Pakistan

By Ladane Nasseri

Iran signed an agreement with Pakistan to increase electricity exports to its eastern neighbor to 1,000 megawatts, the state-run Fars news agency reported, citing Iranian Deputy Energy Minister Mohammad Behzad.

The countries will build a transmission line for electricity between the city of Zahedan in southeastern Iran and Quetta in western Pakistan, Behzad said, according to the report published yesterday.

The project will require an investment of $700 million and will be jointly financed by the two countries, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing a statement from the Energy Ministry today.

Iran has doubled its power exports to Pakistan to 70 megawatts a day in the Iranian year starting March 20, it said.

Continue reading Iran to Boost Power Exports to Pakistan

What happens when organized crime takes office? The rise of the mafia states

Mafia States – Organized Crime Takes Office

By Moisés Naím

The Rise of the Mezzanine Rulers

Michael Crawford and Jami Miscik

Governments across the Middle East and South Asia are increasingly losing power to substate actors that are inserting themselves at a mezzanine level of rule between the government and the people. Western policymakers must address the problem systematically, at both a political and a legal level, rather than continue to pursue reactive and disjointed measures on a case-by-case basis.

Continue reading What happens when organized crime takes office? The rise of the mafia states

PPP power show at Kamu Shaheed near Sindh-Punjab border

Congratulation to Sindh Chief Minister on PPP Rally.

12 May 2012: Delaware(USA), Millions of Pakistanis (estimated to be two millions) belonging to Sindh, Sarikistan, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and other areas of Pakistan gathered in Ghotki, Sindh, to express their support for democracy, in particular for the Pakistan Peoples Party and its leaders President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Today’s public rally at Kamon Shaheed area on the Sindh-Punjab border is estimated to be one of the largest in Pakistan’s political history. The total number of people in today’s rally is estimated to be several times larger than other similar rallies organized by other political parties .

The leaders PPP USA, Shafqat Tanweer President, Mian Basharat Yousaf Chief Organizer, Shoukat Ali Bhutta Secretary General, Syed Iftikhar Zaidi Senior Vice President, Zafar Iqbal Chattha, Co ordinator Jahingeer Buttar Finance Secretary and Masood Zakria Choudhary Add’l Secretary General,PPP USA. Congratulate Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah and PPP Leadership for this rally.

Jeay Bhutto, Jeay BiBi, PPP Zindabad.

Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

By: Manzur Ejaz, Wichaar.com

The other day a very respectable political analyst made a surprising claim that Pakistan’s military is the only institution genuinely concerned about prevailing conditions of the country. Clearly he was specifically referring to dead-locked Pak-US relations where political parties, numbed or scared by anti-America populism, cannot come together to find a viable solution. One can assume that such sentiments must have been communicated to him by the highest level of the core state. However, the problem is that the fearsome anti-US jinni was created by the military and now it wants the civilians to put it back in the bottle.

Continue reading Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

Pakistan is defaulting on sovereign debt

Power sector dues: Govt defaults on sovereign guarantees

By Shahbaz Rana

ISLAMABAD: Failure to honour its financial commitments to Independent Power Producers (IPP) has led to the first-ever sovereign default by the government in Pakistan’s history.

The default on sovereign guarantees – assurances the government provides to foreign investors – may not only unnerve the financial markets, but also downgrade the government’s creditworthiness, making it more expensive to borrow money.

“Today, the government of Pakistan has committed a sovereign default for the first time in the history of the country”, announced the IPPs Advisory Committee here on Tuesday.

“The government has defaulted on payments of roughly Rs45 billion to nine IPPs that generate 1,700 megawatts of electricity”, said Abdullah Yusuf, Chairman IPP Advisory Committee while talking to The Express Tribune. These nine IPPs started operations in 2004 and their total receivables amount to almost Rs232 billion.

Taking legal course

The IPPs gave a 30-day payment notice to the power purchaser, the Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA), followed by a 10-day notice to the government. Neither the CPPA nor the government cleared the overdue amounts, said the advisory committee.

The IPPs have exhausted all avenues available and the notice served to the government expired on Tuesday, the committee said.

After the default, the IPPs have issued a legal notice to the government for recovery by Thursday, May 10th, 2012 failing which the IPPs will follow a legal course.

Yusuf said the IPPs will go to the Pakistani courts.

“The default is a very serious matter and carries negative implications for the country”, Yusuf added. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

The coming disaster in Pakistan? beheadings in Waziristan show balance of power

Blowback from Afghanistan?

By Omar

Khalid Ahmed’s latest attempt at figuring out what happens after Uncle Sam leaves. 

I think Khalid may be overly pessimistic. Perhaps in an effort to raise awareness and prevent the outcome he predicts?

The writ of the state is indeed getting weaker and does not really exist in some areas (as in this case, where the local Taliban beheaded two soldiers and hung their heads from utility poles in the city…under the noses of the army) but even after Imran Khan fails, there may be another “last chance”.  We have not yet scraped the bottom of the barrel. For example, we have not yet begged the US for help, submitted to a strip search and publicly switched sides. We have not yet begged India for help and “given up” Kashmir in return. We have not yet handed over the Northern areas to China. We have not yet offered to sell the nukes. We have not yet offered to create Khalistan in Pakistani Punjab and Karachi in exchange for restoration of law and order by Ranjit Singh the second (“saanhoon port nahin chahidee” ..dont we need a port? actual answer by a Khalistani netizen to question about why his map of Khalistan showed Karachi as part of Khalistan). There is a long way to go before we hit bottom.

In any case, Uncle Sam is not done yet.  ”There are levels of survival we are willing to accept”. (at 6 minute point in this load of bullcrap)

And then there is this: female staff of NGOs face forced marriage to militants. The glorious days of yore are indeed about to come back in Kohistan.

Seriously, I too think the pressure for a deal with the Jihadis (with imposition of so-called Islamic law all over Pakistan) will become greater once Uncle Sam leaves, but I dont see him leaving anytime soon, so I think the present mess will continue in various forms for the foreseeable future. There may even be a temporary improvement in appearances when GHQ finally brings in their next “undertaker” regime. Or brings in Imran Khan, same thing.  Or we may stumble along under Zardari sahib for longer than anyone could possibly have imagined 5 years ago…the main reason I hesitate to bet on Zardari is that no one can survive with Rahman Malik as interior minister for more than 5 years. Its against all the known laws of nature.

Continue reading The coming disaster in Pakistan? beheadings in Waziristan show balance of power

‘Festive, Righteous Anger’: Occupy Makes May-Day Comeback With Massive Demonstrations

By Sarah Jaffe and Anna Lekas Miller and Sarah Seltzer and Julianne Escobedo Shepherd and Alex Kane and Joshua Holland

Yesterday, Occupy recaptured the public’s attention with rallies, marches, parties, and yes, arrests all over the country.

All over the world, May 1 is celebrated as International Workers’ Day. Yesterday, May Day also marked the reemergence of the Occupy movement, with events in cities all over America. AlterNet’s reporters were in the field — here are their dispatches from New York and the Bay Area …

Read more » AlterNet