Tag Archives: process

Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), welcomes recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan

Houston, Texas – (Press release): Jamil Daudi, President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), welcomed the recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan. In a statement issued in Houston, Texas, SANA said it was a good omen that an elected government completed its term & the transfer of power is taking place peacefully through elections as according to the Constitution. SANA congratulated the winning parties and candidates and expressed the hope that new federal and provincial governments will solve the problems faced by the people.

However, while welcoming the recently concluded elections and the continuation of the democratic process in Pakistan, it has expressed grave concern over the serious charges of rigging in Karachi, Hyderabad and other parts of Sindh. It demanded that fresh polls must be held in the two cities of Karachi and Hyderabad under strict security and better polling arrangements to avoid any election fraud. It also called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to look into the election rigging complaints from other areas in Sindh, Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. The Election Commission must take immediate steps to ensure that elections are never stolen and all the people get their fair chance to elect their representatives in a free and fair election without any duress.

SANA called for constitutional amendments to accord maximum autonomy to the provinces and giving them ownership of their resources. SANA said the people of Sindh face innumerable problems including the unemployment, poverty, lack of developmental works, lack of education and health facilities, unavailability of safe drinking water, unbearable load-shedding, deplorable law and order situation, shortage of irrigation water, lack of civic amenities, unjust distribution of resources, etc. The upcoming federal and provincial governments must give immediate attention to these and other problems faced by the people and solve them on the priority basis.

SANA is also alarmed and expressed its dismay over the delay and outcome of elections in Baluchistan and the general situation in Baluchistan. It appeals to federal government to resolve thorny issues with the Baloch nation peacefully, give Baluchistan its share of resources and work for the welfare of people of Baluchistan.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, May 13, 2013.

Pakistan’s gun-slinging chief justice faces backlash

…. But the CJP, too, has got his fair share of criticism. Some say the decision to disqualify Gilani smacks of a grudge match cheered on by his allies in Pakistan’s boisterous media.

Legal experts have questioned whether Justice Chaudhry may have exceeded his powers by ousting the prime minister, arguing that there were other options available to resolve the stand-off with Zardari’s government. “It’s my impression that the judgements are highly politicised,” said Asma Jahangir, a respected human rights lawyer. “The populist approach of the chief justice will destabilise the democratic process.” ….

Read more » Daily Times

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Click to read » Philippine Senate voted to remove Supreme Court Chief Justice

Political Instability Rises as Pakistani Court Ousts Premier

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Supreme Court dismissed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Tuesday, drastically escalating a confrontation between the government and the judiciary and plunging the political system into turmoil.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declared that Mr. Gilani’s office had been effectively vacant since April 26 when the court convicted him on contempt charges because he refused to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, his superior.

Although the decision is unlikely to topple the government, many viewed it as the product of a grudge-driven tussle between Mr. Zardari and Justice Chaudhry, with the prime minister caught in the middle.

“The court has been gunning for the prime minister for a long time,” said Najam Sethi, a veteran political analyst. “Clearly there is a lot of politics in this.”

The order left Pakistan in a state of constitutional uncertainty, with the cabinet effectively dismissed. The court instructed Mr. Zardari to “ensure continuation of the democratic process” — words widely interpreted as an order to arrange the election of a new prime minister.

Legal experts said Mr. Gilani cannot appeal the decision but he may continue in an interim role until his successor is chosen. ….

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/world/asia/political-instability-rises-as-pakistani-court-dismisses-prime-minister.html?_r=2

Questions Surround New Supreme Court Order Disqualifying Prime Minister

The Supreme Court of Pakistan removed the Prime Minister in what is known as a “short order” – essentially a court order lacking a full explanation. These orders often begin, “For reasons to be recorded later…” – a practice that seems the beg for abuse and controversy – and then proceed directly to ordering some specific action on the part of an individual or institution. In this case, though, the specific action was not given until almost two months later – and made retroactive.

On April 26, the Supreme Court issued an order “for the reasons to be recorded later” that found then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani “guilty of and convicted for contempt of court.” The Supreme Court did not declare the Prime Minister disqualified from office and sentenced him to a symbolic detention of about 30 seconds.

The Supreme Court having chosen not to disqualify the Prime Minister, the issue was then taken up by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, who ruled that Mr. Gilani was not disqualified. That was last month.

Today, nearly two months after the Supreme Court issued its controversial conviction, a new short order, “for reasons to be recorded later,” was issued by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – this time declaring that “Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)…on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgement of this Court dated 26.4.2012…”

This raises several very interesting questions. If the Prime Minister was disqualified pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order on April 26, why did they wait until June 19 to say so? Some have suggested that the Supreme Court was giving the Prime Minister the opportunity for appeal, but this is doubtful for a number of reasons: One, the Supreme Court could have declared the Prime Minister disqualified and then stayed the order pending appeal. But more to the point, to whom would the Prime Minister have appealed? The original order was given by a 7 member bench of the Supreme Court – there was no higher authority to appeal to.

Then there is the matter of the ruling by the Speaker of the National Assembly. If the Supreme Court had determined that Mr. Gilani was disqualified as of April 26, why did they allow Dr. Mirza to proceed with deliberations and a ruling on Mr. Gilani’s status as parliamentarian? If the Supreme Court believed that Dr. Mirza did not have the authority as Speaker of the National Assembly to issue such a ruling, why did they not issue an injunction stopping the Speaker from carrying out the act?

While these questions remain unanswered, at least until the Supreme Court delivers more than the two pages made available today, they suggest very troubling possibilities. By allowing Mr. Gilani to continue serving as Prime Minister for months, the Supreme Court has created a policy nightmare for Pakistan. Making the disqualification retroactive to April 26 means that any decisions made by the government since are effectively nullified. Pakistan has, essentially, been operating without a government for over 8 weeks.

Moreover, by allowing the Speaker of the National Assembly to deliberate and issue a ruling without comment, only to nullify that decision weeks later, the Supreme Court has undermined the authority of parliament and created confusion about fundamental issues of separation of powers and constitutional authority. What government official can now carry out their duties without the fear of Supreme Court action if the Chief Justice does not like the outcome.

This gets to what is perhaps the most troubling question of all – would the Supreme have issued this new order had the Speaker of the National Assembly herself disqualified Mr. Gilani? In other words, is Pakistan’s Supreme Court acting pursuant to due process or desired outcomes?

Courtesy: http://americansforpakistan.com/2012/06/19/questions-surround-new-supreme-court-order-disqualifying-prime-minister/

Via – Twitter

Nawaz Sharif calls for Pakistan to unilaterally abolish visas for Indians

Pakistan should unilaterally abolish visa regime with India, says Nawaz Sharif

LAHORE: Main opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has said that Pakistan should unilaterally abolish the visa regime with India immediately as people-to-people contacts can accelerate the bilateral peace process.

Sharif urged the government of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to “step forward and take the initiative of abolishing the visa regime” to facilitate the people of both countries.

He made the remarks during an interactive session with an Indian trade delegation at his residence in Lahore last night.

“Pakistan should move ahead with the decision of abolishing the visa regime unilaterally even if India hesitates to reciprocate the initiative at this point in time.

“I believe India will be forced to follow suit once Pakistan breaks this barrier. In my opinion, this step can go miles in bringing these two nuclear powers closer,” Sharif said.  …

Read more » The Economic Times

Via – Twitter

How to say yes to online censorship

By Jahanzaib Haque

Excerpt;

….. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) must issue a list of the blocked websites with explanations for who blocked the site and for what reason, under which law, along with the length of the ban. No ban should be put in place without court approval and due discourse with independent entities set up to safeguard the rights of the citizens. Any ban on a site should be preceded by a prior warning sent to the webmaster, possibly including a two/three strike system. A notice of an implemented ban should be sent to the site owners and announced publicly and there should be a clearly established system for challenging the ban.

As yet, the PTA and the government have made no overtures to suggest they want to be held accountable or want to develop a system after consultation with the citizens they serve. Till they do, the ongoing and upcoming censorship of the internet in Pakistan must be fought tooth and nail.

Read more: The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2012.

Panetta Sets End to Afghan Combat Role for U.S. in 2013

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year. ….

Read more » The New York Times

A letter to Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton to show deep concern over the safety of former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madame Secretary:

We are writing today to express our deep concern over the safety and well-being of former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. It has come to our attention that Ambassador Haqqani is under intense pressure in Pakistan, including possibly threats to his life, over the so-called “Memogate” affair.

Questions have been raised about the manner in which this case is proceeding against Ambassador Haqqani and whether due process of law is being followed. Internationally recognized human rights defender Ms. Asma Jehangir recently quit as Haqqani’s lawyer, citing her lack of confidence in the judicial commission established by the Pakistani Supreme Court to investigate the case. Because of her doubts about the commission’s impartiality, Ms. Jehangir refused to appear before it.

Ms. Jehangir described the Supreme Court decision to admit the memo petitions as a “black chapter” in the judiciary’s history and further noted her concern that Ambassador Haqqani could be picked up by Pakistan’s intelligence services and intimidated, and even possibly tortured, into providing a statement that suits their interests. In this context, the fact that Haqqani was forced to surrender his passport, despite returning to Pakistan voluntarily to face the charges, is particularly troubling.

The case against Haqqani follows an ominous trend in Pakistan. The assassinations of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad this past year have created a culture of intimidation and fear that is stifling efforts to promote a more tolerant and democratic society. Significant segments of the Pakistani media have already judged Haqqani to be guilty of treason, which could inspire religious extremists to take the law into their own hands as they did with Taseer and Bhatti.

While we, as individuals, may not have always agreed with Ambassador Haqqani’s views, we regarded him as an effective presenter of Pakistani positions in the Washington context. In keeping with its traditional support for human rights and its deep interest in a firmly democratic Pakistan, the U.S. government should do all it can to ensure Haqqani receives due process without any threat of physical harm.

We commend the State Department for its statement on Friday calling for fair and transparent treatment of Ambassador Haqqani in accordance with Pakistani law and international legal standards. We would urge the U.S. government to continue to weigh in with key Pakistani leaders and to make appropriate public statements to ensure that Husain Haqqani is not physically harmed and that due process of law is followed.

With High Regards,

Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Brookings Institution

Ms. Lisa Curtis, Heritage Foundation

Mr. Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute

Mr. Toby Dalton, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. C. Christine Fair, Georgetown University

Dr. Robert M. Hathaway, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Mr. Michael Krepon, Stimson Center

Ambassador Dennis Kux, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Ambassador William B. Milam, Woodrow Wilson International Center

Dr. Aparna Pande, Hudson Institute

Dr. George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Mr. Bruce Riedel, Brookings Institution

Ambassador Howard B. Schaffer, Georgetown University

Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer, Brookings Institution

Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum, Middle East Institute

cc.

The Honorable U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden

The Honorable U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta

The Honorable U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon

The Honorable Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency David H. Petraeus

January 7, 2012

Courtesy: http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/282550/letter-to-secretary-of-state-hillary-rodham.pdf

News adopted from Bolta Pakistan Facebook page.

Of memogate and precedence – By Waris Husain

As Habib Jalib said, “How can this desert be called a rose garden? How can I write a silver lining of this cloud? We have inherited this grief from the past, how can I write this grief anew?”

Critics argue that the Supreme Court’s decision to continue its probe of Memogate is a replay of past judgments which legitimised the will of the military over the people’s civilian government. Others contend that the will of the people demands that Zardari and his cohorts be punished in any manner for corruption, and the Supreme Court’s decision is one step in that political fight.

Though the Supreme Court judges and the Lawyer’s Movement acted as a political force to remove Musharraf, they should reexamine their roles in the battle for constitutional supremacy today. The Court has a valid interest in applying the rule of law equally to all, including Presidents and former Ambassadors, but they must also recognise the context of that judgment. The law, unlike politics, is powerful only when it follows precedent, and the precedent being set by the court today is quite a dangerous one for the future of civilian-military relations.

The Supreme Court’s order calls for a three judge panel to collect evidence and present findings within one month. In the Order, the Supreme Court stated that it was protecting fundamental rights recognised in Articles 9, 14, and 19A of the Constitution. These articles protect the right to due process, dignity of man, right to information of matters of public importance.

Continue reading Of memogate and precedence – By Waris Husain

Turkey’s former military chief arrested over alleged anti-government plot

By Associated Press

ISTANBUL — A former Turkish military chief suspected of leading an Internet campaign to stir revolt was jailed Friday in a sweeping investigation of alleged conspiracies to topple a civilian government that has stripped the armed forces of political clout.

Gen. Ilker Basbug, 68, was the most senior officer to face trial in the anti-terror probes that began years ago, netting hundreds of suspects, many of them retired and active-duty military officers. The government casts the inquiries as a triumph for the rule of law and democracy, but suspicions of score-settling, long imprisonments without verdicts and other lapses have tainted the legal process.

The investigations serve as a pivotal test for Turkey’s ability to put its own house in order even as it seeks a higher profile in a turbulent region where the Turkish brand of electoral politics and Islam-inspired government is viewed by some as worthy of emulation.

Perhaps most notable about Basbug’s arrest was the muted public response in a country where civilian leaders were once beholden to the generals, and any hint of conflict stirred fears of a coup. The power balance shifted in the past decade as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan undermined the premise that the military brass were the untouchable guardians of secularism, as enshrined in the constitution. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Marvi Sirmed remembers the day they killed Benazir Bhutto

BAAGHI: Remembering Benazir Bhutto, personally! – By Marvi Sirmed

One wonders what potent challenge she posed to the establishment that they had to invest all their might, money and resources to gather all the opposing political parties on one platform against BB’s PPP

“Is she okay?” I was screaming at the top of my voice on the phone with my husband while madly driving towards General Hospital, Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. “It is over, Marvi,” my husband cried and the line disconnected. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan, had paid the highest price anyone could ever pay for continuing to engage with people and carrying on with the democratic process.

It has been four years since BB, as she was commonly called, has left us but there has not been a single moment in the crisis-ridden politics of Pakistan that she was not missed. Without going into the achievements and failures of her governments, I just want to remember her as she was — a strong leader with a political vision not paralleled by any living politician. The struggle that she chose for herself when she was just 23 years of age was not an ordinary one. At a broader level it entailed dealing with an all-powerful military dictator, being imprisoned and later exiled, losing family, organising the most popular political party of the country during the worst times of persecution, etc.

At a personal level it posed many additional challenges to a young Pinky. Her being a woman never hindered her; so much so that when the forces opposing her tried to use her biology against her, she turned it around. When she was expecting Bilawal, they announced elections around the dates they thought she would be in maternity. I cannot forget her coming to the political rallies with her intravenous drip in her hands. She later wrote in her book, Daughter of the East: An Autobiography, that Begum Nusrat Bhutto, her mother, had advised her to never let her physiological issues come in her way. When she was expecting Bakhtawar during her premiership, the crisis was once again carefully chosen to coincide with the dates of her delivery. She did not make herself absent from her office for more than 48 hours.

All through her political life, she struggled against the hegemony of the oppressive deep state that used every jape that they could, and from right-wing rhetoric that was nauseatingly misogynist and anti-people. From scandalous attacks on her character, assaulting family, facilitating all odd political characters of the country that had only one common thread among them — hatred of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Bhuttos — the establishment put to use every antic. What they could not do was separate BB and the people. When I was growing up, I did not understand the love people had for her. I was in high school when BB came to power for the first time. I did not even pass my higher secondary when her government was dismissed on charges of corruption. Like every youngster, I hated corruption but was amazed to see people from the lowest of the lower strata who were crazy for BB and her PPP. In an industrial exhibition in Lahore, I met an artisan woman selling her handmade fans. She had woven BB’s picture on one of the hand-fans. She broke into tears while telling me how every cruel oppressor in this country has joined hands to bring BB down.

At the Lok Virsa last year, I met a family from southern Punjab who had brought their snakes and were showing snake tricks to earn meagre money. One of their children was wearing a locket bearing BB’s picture. The woman of the family was swearing against Musharraf, the army, feudals and extremists who had snatched their beloved leader. The anger in her voice was so intense that I for once thought she must be a blood relative of BB. She was not.

I recall women of my own family when BB took oath as the prime minister in 1988. My family, being a landholding Punjabi orthodox religious family, has been strongly against a progressive and socialist Bhutto. The men in our family frequently borrowed right-wing arguments against a woman head of the government being un-Islamic, while equally conservative and religious women including my grandmother vociferously confronted the argument. It was amazing to see these women drawing power from a woman prime minister with whose political views they did not even agree. Our village women, very conservative in religious and cultural views and who were made to believe that the PPP was an anti-religion party, could not help loving BB. Women, I can still remember, got new dreams of playing a powerful role in society.

Her struggle did not end when her party came to office in 1988. Seeking office was incomplete without power, which still rested with the all-powerful establishment that had delayed nominating her as prime minister despite her party’s clear majority. They did never rest after that. One wonders what potent challenge she posed to them that they had to invest all their might, money and resources to gather all the opposing political parties on one platform against BB’s PPP. Her clear-headed vision that led the country throughout the years of crisis distinguished her from the rest of the lot who started appearing pygmies in front of her.

My last meeting with her was in November 2007 when she calmly heard our criticism on various recent decisions that we thought would give a lease of life to a dictator. How patiently she heard, how diligently she took notes and how sagaciously she responded to every single concern of ours. When she arrived in October 2007, she had changed in many ways. One could see the strength of her resolve seeing a sea of people ready to sacrifice their lives for her. Despite strict security warnings, she would not stop from going to the hospital to visit the survivors of the October 18 terrorist attack on her rally.

Prior to that, she was the only leader among the entire bunch of expedient politicians of Pakistan who spoke openly against terrorists and their apologists. She was the only leader who tried to lead people’s opinion against the militants who had forced the tragedy of Laal Masjid (Red Mosque), instead of criticising the military action against the militants or terming the Laal Masjid militants as ‘innocent students’ like almost every politician did.

The unusual courage she displayed was not without a vision of possible consequences. She knew the price she might have to pay. Nothing deterred her. She went on and lived up to every challenge. And boy, what a life she lived! Salutes to a leader par excellence, to a woman with unfathomable courage and resolve, to a politician of exemplary vision, to a committed democrat who never failed the test of pragmatic and inclusive politics. Rest in peace BB. Pakistan misses you.

The writer is an Islamabad-based commentator on counterterrorism, social and political issues. She can be reached at marvisirmed@me.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/marvisirmed

Courtesy » Daily Times

Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have reached an all-time low. The Khyber Pass is closed to NATO cargo, U.S. personnel were evicted from Shamsi airbase and Pakistani observers have been recalled from joint co-operation centres.

Much more importantly, senior officials in Washington now know that Pakistan has been playing them false since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and understand that Pakistan was sheltering Osama bin Laden a few hundred yards from its version of West Point. The recent shelling of Afghan troops inside Afghanistan by the Pakistani army, and the NATO counterstrike, cleared in error by Pakistan, has further embarrassed the Pakistani military.

Continue reading Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Memogate: Two psychopaths a ‘new threat’ to Pakistani democracy? – by Shiraz Paracha

Excerpt;

…. Mansoor behaves like a psychopath and has been intimidating Pakistani politicians and military leaders, who always look towards Washington for support. Mansoor cashes on their weakness and makes exaggerated claims about his connections and influence on the Hill. Benazir Bhutto was bitten by Mansoor Ijaz’s inflated claims and was thus very sceptical of Mansoor.

Mansoor criminal-minded business associates made tones of money through questionable business deals. Interestingly, Mansoor uses his Muslim and Pakistani background to promote his business and career interests in the United States. Precisely on these grounds, he acts as a friend of Israel and his role suits Zionist lobbies. Mansoor is also a self-appointed flag carrier for American crusaders. Mansoor’s ideas and plans often hurt Pakistan, yet he wants to be loved and appreciated in Pakistan. Thanks to some Pakistani media outlets, Mansoor gets out of the proportion attention in Pakistan where the majority of the public is unaware of his real motives and agenda. ….

…. Upon my return to Pakistan when we published our interview with Mark Segal, Benazir Bhutto’s spokesperson Farhat Ullah Babar called and congratulated me on having an interview with Mark Segal, this time I was sadly surprised. The point is that in Pakistan exaggeration and distortions about people and events are common.

Now, Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz are central in the so-called memo scandal. The memo that was allegedly written back in May could be a new excuse to justify the dismissal of the civilian government in Pakistan as some forces have been trying to windup the fragile democratic process in Pakistan.

The timing of the leak about the alleged memo to a U.S general is interesting. Rather than questioning the role of the Pakistani military in bringing troubles for Pakistan, some Washington-based Pakistani journalists like Shaheen Sehbahi always blame President Zardari. ….

…. Some Pakistani generals groomed and harboured bin Laden and others calling them Pakistan’s strategic assets. Such generals should be brought to justice, not an elected President and the civilian government. Pakistani generals have been violating the constitution and have no regard for the law. They disobey and disrespect elected representatives of people. Instead of exposing misdeeds of the military, the Pakistani media support and strengthen generals’ wrongdoings.

In such an environment trivial matters and non-issues become serious threats for the future of democracy. Now an alleged personal and unofficial communication between two individuals is presented as another reason for derailing democracy in Pakistan. Can two rightwing psychopaths be a threat to democracy? One wonders for how long such nonsense will continue in Pakistan?

To read complete article » LUBP

http://criticalppp.com/archives/63301

We are the 99 per cent Occupy Wall Street is a peaceful stand against the big American rip-off. Support it and regain your dignity

– by Mark Ruffalo

I have spent the last two days at the Occupy Wall Street gathering. It was a beautiful display of peaceful action: so much kindness and gentleness in the camp, so much belief in our world and democracy. And so many different kinds of people all looking for a chance at the dream that America had promised them.

When people critique this movement and say spurious things about the protesters’ clothes or their jobs or the general way they look, they are showing how shallow we have become as a nation. They forget that these people have taken time out of their lives to stand up for values that are purely American and in the interest of our democracy. They forget that these people are encamped in an urban park, where they are not allowed to have tents or other normal camping gear. They are living far outside their comfort zone to protect and celebrate liberty, equality and the rule of law.

It is a thing of beauty to see so many people in love with the ideal of democracy, so alive with its promise, so committed to its continuity in the face of crony capitalism and corporate rule. That should be celebrated. It should be respected and admired.

Their message is very clear and simple: get money out of the political process; strive for equality in taxation and equal rights for all regardless of race, gender, social status, sexual preference or age. We must stop poisoning our food, air and water for corporate greed. The people on Wall Street and in the banking industrial complex that destroyed our economy must be investigated and brought to justice under the law for what they have done by stealing people’s homes and savings. ….

Read more → guardian.co.uk

No justification for military takeover, says Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association

– No justification for military takeover, says Asma

By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: One of the country`s most prominent human rights activists has expressed her serious concern on the poor performance of the federal and provincial governments, but has warned against this being used as a pretext by the extra-constitutional forces to derail the democratic process.

Asma Jehangir, who is also the president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), told Dawn that under no circumstances issues like the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi or elsewhere could provide justification for any kind of military intervention. However, her fear was that “if civilian governments do not put their house in order, they would soon be sent packing”. In any case, she said, such a move would be disastrous for the country, and could result in more bloodshed and anarchy.

Commenting on a recent media report of possible differences among the top military commanders, with some suggesting a possible take-over, ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Judiciary vs the executive in Pakistan and the US

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

In Pakistan, like the US, the judiciary was always considered subservient to the governments whether headed by the civilians or by the military. No one, before Chief Justice Chaudhry, had the guts to stand up to a head of the state

Contrary to slogan of PPP leaders and many others, Pakistan’s judiciary is acting very prudently as it carefully makes its steps in the continuously evolving situation. The Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, seems to understand the evolutionary process that Pakistan is going through. As a matter of fact, the judiciary is mindful of the way the judicial power has been invoked by courts in the US and Europe throughout the 19th century. Therefore, at the end of the day, Pakistan’s judiciary will have the last laugh if it sticks to the path it has taken. ….

Read more →Wichaar

The arrest of Dr Fai, may appear as isolated legal action of the US government but the scratch below the surface is just the beginning of the US retribution against Pakistani actions

On the course of retributions

By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM

The arrest of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, and arrest warrant of a Pakistani national, Zaheer Ahmad, may appear as isolated legal actions of the US government against its citizens for unauthorised lobbying for Pakistan. However, scratch below the surface and it becomes clear that this is just the beginning of the US retribution against Pakistani actions.

The matter has been brewing and coming to the boiling point since Raymond Davis’ arrest and then jailing of those who helped the US in nabbing Osama bin Laden. In recent days, the US media has been reporting that the US is pressuring Pakistan for the releasing of Dr Shakil Afridi who was reported to be arrested for undertaking a fake vaccination campaign to get blood samples of bin Laden’s kids for DNA match.

Every Washington circle that had anything to do with Pak-American-Kashmir affairs was well aware of Dr Fai’s activities in the community, think tanks and on lobbying with Congress and Senate members. Most activists among the Pakistani-American community have been speculating about Dr Fai’s connection with Pakistani government and/or Inter Services Agency (ISI). Therefore, the allegation of having received about four million dollars from Pakistan and making over four thousand phone calls to his alleged handlers from ISI will not be totally perceived as concocted charges even among Pakistani expatriates. Pakistan embassy’s claim that Dr Fai is not a Pakistani citizen—he came from India and sought amnesty in the US—is not going to lessen the impact of such a damaging development.

Dr Fai’s activities on the Capital Hill and his arrangements of large and expensive conferences involving key people from Pakistan and India were quite open. It can be safely assumed that he was giving heart burns to Indian diplomats and lobbyists and they must have been pressurising the US government to rein him in. However, the US had chosen to look the other way for a decade and never bothered with his activities. But, now the parameters have changed. Probably because the US wants to send the message that it has some options to retaliate in Pakistani style as well.

It is well known that Pakistan has its own human intelligence assets in the US. Of course such assets must be a fraction of what a sole world superpower, the US, would have in Pakistan. The US financial power to buy human assets in Pakistan, Europe and from the rest of the world cannot be matched by a poor developing country. Nonetheless, the party with meager resources gets hurt more when mutual retributions occur.

Before Dr Fai’s arrest Washington’s diplomatic circles were subtly pointing out for such retribution. According to very reliable sources, the US side was arguing with Pakistani diplomats that millions of Pakistani-Americans live in America—some of them are Green Card Holders and technically, Pakistani nationals—and the US issues hundreds of thousands of student, visiting, business and work visas to Pakistanis while Pakistan is raising questions about a few hundred visas.

A thinly veiled threat is that if Pakistan continues restricting movements of its diplomats and citizens, the US can do the same putting Pakistani diplomats’ work in jeopardy and creating problems for visitors. Technically, the US can cancel Green Cards on very flimsy grounds, through finding any trivial fault with application process, and send thousands of Pakistanis back home. It is not very likely to happen but if things get too far it is not out of question either.

If the US expands the scope of retributions the diplomatic make-up of staff at Pakistani embassy may change as well. Pakistan may not be able to appoint ranking officials from intelligence agencies as ‘head of community affairs’ or under other such covers. The set of military mission in the embassy may be realigned as well. Most of all, the US agencies, particularly tax authorities, can be used to scare prosperous Pakistanis, mostly physicians, who hold fund raisers for the US lawmakers and arrange their meeting with Pakistani diplomats and incoming Pakistani officials. Such moves will certainly hamper little efforts Pakistani-Americans make to provide bridge between the two countries.

If the negative perception of Pakistan further deepens, the US may not be able to use drones in Pak-Afghan border areas but it will hit Pakistan’s financial system with stealth bombers. Besides stopping the financial aid, the US can harm Pakistan’s foreign currency earnings by creating difficulties for transmitting the remittances of Pakistani expatriates. Presently, Pakistani expatriates contribute a significant portion of foreign remittances of Pakistan. Furthermore, it can issue guidance to donor agencies, European partners and other private financial institution to hold back on financial transfers to Pakistan.

A sketch of broad possible scenarios of US retribution–been started with Dr Fai’s arrest–is not to scare the new found patriotism in Islamabad. Patriotic feelings are very noble, worthy and respectable but one should know the cost as well. Before throwing stones at others while sitting in the glass houses, one should have thick tall walls to protect oneself. Are Islamabad and GHQ ready to build such walls if the US process of retributions expands? Does not seem like it.

Courtesy: → DAWN.COM

Civilian supremacy over military: a process, not a transaction – Dr Mohammad Taqi

In post-bin Laden Pakistan, a unique prospect exists for the civilian leadership to neutralise the establishment and literally reverse the power equation. Such a constellation of events does not happen often and the agents of the status quo are hard at work to quickly close this small window of opportunity

Wherever and whenever nation-states make the transition towards a democratic form of government, the question about civilian supremacy over the military is bound to come up. In stable western democracies, such as the US and Japan, both convention and the constitution provide well-established safeguards against the military’s encroachment on the civilian power to oversee and control it. But in budding democracies, and especially countries like Pakistan that go through praetorian autocracy and democracy in a cyclical fashion, the issue of civil-military balance of power remains highly complex, unresolved and pernicious.

It was this struggle for power that Samuel Adams — one of the US’s founding fathers — had warned against, in a letter to James Warren: “A standing army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the liberties of the people. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a body distinct from the rest of the citizens. They have their arms always in their hands…Such a power should be watched with a jealous eye.”

Standing armies have nonetheless become a norm and the citizens’ militias, looked upon favourably by Adams and the legendary Baloch leader Sher Muhammad Marri, as a bulwark against martial law, have survived just in theory. Since the Portuguese Carnation revolution of 1974, ironically led by the military, a series of new democratic dispensations — the so-called third wave democracies — have continued to grapple with the issue of consolidating civilian control over the military, as part of the overall cementing of democratic change. The quest for fledgling democracies has been not only to oust the military from power but also to prevent it from staging another outright coup d’état as well as an indirect intervention in or competition with civilian power.

In the political scenario evolving in Pakistan after the US took out Osama bin Laden, the security establishment has found its chokehold on power to be in mortal danger. The façade of the military’s organisation and invincibility, nay infallibility, has been lifted, tilting the balance of power against it internationally, but more importantly, domestically. It is this exposed domestic flank that is really worrisome for the establishment, as a potential civilian compact could emerge and dislodge it from the direct and indirect role of control over the state that it is accustomed to exercising. The Latin American and Southeast Asian models of the juntas defanged and sent packing by the united political elite are not completely lost on the Pakistani deep state. …

Read more: Daily Times

Myths Monsters and Jihad

Myths and monsters – by Nadeem F. Paracha

In spite of the gradual infiltration of ubiquitous religious symbolism and mentality in the social spheres of everyday life, Pakistan has managed to remain afloat as a pluralistic society comprising various ethnicities, religions and Muslim sects.

However, starting in the late 1970s, an anti-pluralistic process was initiated by the Ziaul Haq dictatorship that soon spiralled beyond mere posturing and sloganeering.

With the ‘Afghan jihad’ raging against the former Soviet Union, Zia, his intelligence agencies and parties like the Jamat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam started embracing a narrow and highly politicised version of Islam. This was done to radicalise large sections of Pakistani Muslims who had historically been part of a more apolitical and tolerant strains of the faith.

Most Pakistanis related to the shrine culture and the sufi traditions of the subcontinent, and thus, were least suitable to fight a ‘jihad’ that Zia was planning to peddle in Afghanistan at the behest of the CIA. Pakistanis’ beliefs were not compatible at all with this new strain of a political Islam. To compensate this ideological ‘deficiency’, the Zia regime (with American and Arab money) helped start indoctrination centres in the shape of thousands of jihadist madrassas.

Almost all of them were run by radical puritans. These were preachers and ‘scholars’ who had become critical of the strains of the faith that most Pakistanis adhered to. Accusing these strains of being ‘adulterated’, they advocated the more assertive charms of ‘political Islam’, of the likes recommended by Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb and Khurram Murad. …

Read more : DAWN

The self-centred beggar

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

It is only in the Pakistani media that violation of sovereignty is the focus of discussion rather than Osama’s comfortable living arrangement near an elite military academy. The rest of the world is focusing on Osama rather than the legality of the American operation in Abbottabad.

Probably it is a matter of taste that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani wanted to hear the same translated lecture from Chinese leaders that Senator John Kerry had given in Islamabad. Maybe it was easier in Beijing because Chinese lectures were (hopefully) directly translated into Urdu or Seraiki. President Asif Ali Zardari may have been given a similar dose in Moscow though the details of his achievements have yet to come out. Both had rushed to the Chinese and Russian capitals to prove their utility to the military brass after the embarrassing US operation in Abbottabad.

It is clear from the published reports that China has flatly told PM Gilani that it does not give budgetary support or cash transfers to countries. They promised some loans on favourable conditions, but this was then sent for approval to the Politburo of the Communist Party. This is an atypical Chinese diplomatic way of saying ‘no’ because such a loan could have been cleared quickly if need be. This simply shows that salvaging Pakistan’s economy is not a Chinese priority or that they take it as a waste of money.

The plan to rush to Beijing was as sane as not knowing that Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad near a military academy for the last five years. Probably, there is no method in Pakistan’s madness of decision-making processes. Idealising Pakistan’s strategic worth in global politics, Pakistan’s ruling elite is bereft of common sense. They thought once they announce to the Chinese and Russians that they are getting a legal divorce from the US, Beijing and Moscow would jump all around and shower Yuan and Roubles upon them. No one paused for a moment to think that both China and Russia, victims of jihadi terrorism, agree with the US on the point that terrorist networks must be rooted out of Pakistan. But we have become like street-beggars who develop a habit of asking every passerby for money.

Before PM Gilani had reached Beijing, a senior leader of the Chinese military had declared that his country will not confront the US over Pakistan. And why would China confront the US over Pakistan while its economic interests are heavily vested in the US? Moreover, has China ever confronted the US on any policy other than American policy regarding Taiwan? China has proved to be the wisest nation when it comes to its economic interests. They have economic interests in Pakistan as well but cannot lose the US market, which is their bread and butter. In addition, why would China confront the US for something which, ultimately, safeguards al Qaeda, the Taliban and other jihadi terrorist groups? It is only in the Pakistani media that violation of sovereignty is the focus of discussion rather than Osama’s comfortable living arrangement near an elite military academy. The rest of the world is focusing on Osama rather than the legality of the American operation in Abbottabad.

The Chinese know what the world is saying and are afraid to run into an embarrassing position if the US decides to bring its case against Pakistan harbouring terrorists to the UN. This is the reason that they told Mr Gilani:

One: Pakistan should normalise its relations with India, the US and the rest of the world. The Chinese were telling Pakistan that it is awfully lonely and cannot be supported just by Beijing if the rest of the world stands against it.

Two: the Chinese subtly chided Pakistan for not eliminating the madrassa networks that are producing terrorists. Privately, China has been asking Pakistan to take action against jihadi nurseries but this time they went public on this point.

Three: the Chinese told Gilani that the situation in Afghanistan is improving and Pakistan should not do anything that can stall it.

The Chinese have told Pakistan that they are on the same page as the US as far as the issue of terrorism is concerned and Pakistan should lower its obsession with India. Furthermore, the Chinese have advised that the US is going to be the only source of funds needed for budgetary support for Pakistan. China can invest in infrastructure projects but no cash transfers. Recent assignment of hydro projects to Chinese companies show that China is using its leverage to get better deals from Pakistan than it could if international bids were invited.

Continue reading The self-centred beggar

PPP, PML-N agree on process of dissolving HEC

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday decided to amend the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ordinance 2002, DawnNews reported.

Certain authorities of the commission will be devolved to provinces, while it has been recommended that the authority to verify degrees should be given to concerned political parties.

According to sources, the PPP and PML-N have agreed on the process of dissolving the Higher Education Commission. …

Read more : DAWN

Most of Pakistani diplomats are peeing in their pants, as to what kind of precedent is being set by their government in Lahore!

Sex, Rhetoric And Diplomatic Impunity

Islamabad is hard pressed to withdraw its ‘diplo-basher’. New Delhi is only too relieved.

by Seema Sirohi , Amir Mir

Even at the best of times, he is known to be acerbic and pungent as they come, his anti-India vitriol alarming to the uninitiated. But last month, Pakistan’s UN envoy, Munir Akram, directed his bile at his live-in girlfriend and in the process earned a big, black eye for his country. His dreadful conduct took the wind out of Pakistani sails as Islamabad began its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council—and just as it was gearing to deliver some good rhetorical punches there on behalf of the world’s Muslims.

What could be more un-Islamic than a relationship outside wedlock which under Shariah is punishable by Taliban-style retribution?

Akram’s stars plunged precipitously as New York’s tabloids screamed details of Pakistan’s “diplo-basher” and “abuser”. The US State Department asked Islamabad to withdraw his diplomatic immunity so he could face criminal prosecution as a common man. The Pakistani establishment didn’t know what hit them, struggling, as they were, with other difficult aspects of their tortuous relationship with Uncle Sam—border shootings and bombs dropping from American planes. They didn’t need a new complication from one of their own. The famed corridors of the United Nations were suddenly abuzz with talk of Akram’s physical, not verbal, violence. …

Read more : OutLook

Injustices in Pakistan: Startling Disclosures of Federal Employment Figures

 

By Aziz Narejo

 

Sindhis and Baloch have been complaining about injustices to them since the inception of Pakistan. Be it the distribution of resources, apportionment in budget, provincial autonomy, water rights, share in economic development, expenditure in social sectors, education, health and infrastructure development, their involvement in the decision making process or their share in the military, the most powerful institution in the country, they are ignored everywhere. Their cries are never heard or even noticed at the highest levels.

It is even more unfortunate that the so-called human rights advocates, champions of the civil society, the ‘democratic forces’ and others proclaiming to be on the side of fairness in society also always ignore the voices from Sindh and Balochistan. After losing all the hope for any positive change, Baloch have finally decided to part ways with Pakistan. If it continues, Sindhis may have to make a decision too. …

Rea more : Indus Herald

How Democracy Can Work in the Middle East

By Fareed Zakaria

When Frank Wisner, the seasoned U.S. diplomat and envoy of President Obama, met with Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday, Feb. 1, the scene must have been familiar to both men. For 30 years, American diplomats would enter one of the lavish palaces in Heliopolis, the neighborhood in Cairo from which Mubarak ruled Egypt. The Egyptian President would receive the American warmly, and the two would begin to talk about American-Egyptian relations and the fate of Middle East peace. Then the American might gently raise the issue of political reform. The President would tense up and snap back, “If I do what you want, the Islamic fundamentalists will seize power.” The conversation would return to the latest twist in the peace process.

It is quite likely that a version of this exchange took place on that Tuesday. Mubarak would surely have warned Wisner that without him, Egypt would fall prey to the radicalism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Islamist political movement. He has often reminded visitors of the U.S.’s folly in Iran in 1979, when it withdrew support for a staunch ally, the Shah, only to see the regime replaced by a nasty anti-American theocracy. But this time, the U.S. diplomat had a different response to the Egyptian President’s arguments. It was time for the transition to begin. (Watch a TIME video on the revolt in Egypt.)

And that was the message Obama delivered to Mubarak when the two spoke on the phone on Feb. 1. “It was a tough conversation,” said an Administration official. Senior national-security aides gathered around a speakerphone in the Oval Office to listen to the call. Mubarak made it clear how difficult the uprising had been for him personally; Obama pressed the Egyptian leader to refrain from any violent response to the hundreds of thousands in the streets. But a day later, those streets — which had been remarkably peaceful since the demonstrations began — turned violent. In Cairo, Mubarak supporters, some of them wading into crowds on horseback, began battering protesters.

It was a reminder that the precise course that Egypt’s revolution will take over the next few days and weeks cannot be known. The clashes between the groups supporting and opposing the government mark a new phase in the conflict. The regime has many who live off its patronage, and they could fight to keep their power. But the opposition is now energized and empowered. And the world — and the U.S. — has put Mubarak on notice.
Read more: Time

Lack of common societal goals – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Sometimes it feels like Pakistan is beyond repair. Pakistan’s ruling elite is neither capable nor willing to take the Chinese or the western routes. But societies have a self-preservation instinct that can overwhelm present dysfunctional ideologies or identities. However, no one knows if Pakistan’s map will change or remain the same in this painful process.

Instead of being a melting pot, Pakistani society is more like a sieve through which unity and tolerance travel before reaching the people. India, despite having competent institutions, has struggled to become a melting pot as well. As Pakistan’s sieve filters out nationalism and unity, what reaches the public is a schizophrenic identity with various divisive paths — much like India.

Pakistan has not been a pot in which different ethnic, racial or caste groups submerged to give birth to a single national identity or collective societal consciousness. Instead, it has functioned as a sieve with several filtering holes of class, caste, ethnicity, linguistic grouping, tribal allegiances, etc. A poisonous mix of divisive identities comes out of the sieve. Then, another extra-fine filter of religion is put in, making the toxic mix into a lethal killer of collective societal thinking.

Continue reading Lack of common societal goals – Dr Manzur Ejaz