Tag Archives: questionable

Pakistan: Army’s questionable decisions

By Editorial

The carefully constructed veneer of neutrality that the army leadership had constructed through much of the national political crisis instigated by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri has been torn apart.

Also Read: ISPR statement reactions: Balanced, ominous – hedged?

First, came the army’s statement on Sunday, the third in a series of statements in recent days on the political crisis, which quite astonishingly elevated the legitimacy and credibility of the demands of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and their violent protesters above that of the choices and actions of an elected government dealing with a political crisis.

Consider the sequence of events so far. When the army first publicly waded into the political crisis, it counselled restraint on all sides — as though it was the government that fundamentally still had some questions hanging over its legitimacy simply because Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri alleged so.

Next, the army crept towards the Khan/Qadri camp by urging the government to facilitate negotiations — as though it was the government that was being unreasonable, and not Mr Khan and Mr Qadri.

Now, staggeringly, the army has ‘advised’ the government not to use force against violent protesters and essentially told it to make whatever concessions necessary to placate Mr Khan and Mr Qadri.

It is simply extraordinary that it is the PAT and PTI supporters who want to break into and occupy state buildings, but it is the government that has been rebuked.

It’s as if the army is unaware — rather, unwilling — to acknowledge the constitutional scheme of things: it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around.

The government has already issued its order: invoking Article 245.

On Saturday, as violent thugs attacked parliament, it was surely the army’s duty to repel them.

But the soldiers stationed there did nothing and the army leadership the next day warned the government instead of the protesters — which largely explains why the protesters were able to continue their pitched battles with the police and attacked the PTV headquarters yesterday.

If that were not enough, yesterday also brought another thunderbolt: this time from within the PTI with party president Javed Hashmi indicating that Mr Khan is essentially doing what he has been asked and encouraged to do by the army leadership.

It took the ISPR a few hours to respond with the inevitable denial, but a mere denial is inadequate at this point. The functioning of the state stands paralysed because a few thousand protesters and their leaders have laid siege to state institutions.

Where is the army condemnation of that? Would the army allow even a handful of peaceful protesters to gather outside GHQ for a few hours?

The army is hardly being ‘neutral’. It is making a choice. And, it is disappointing that choice is doing little to strengthen the constitutional, democratic and legitimate scheme of things.

Read more » Dawn, September 2nd, 2014
http://www.dawn.com/news/1129263

Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions. In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight. Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007. Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited to part-time work, millions have been foreclosed out of their homes. Those who retain jobs suffer declining real wages, fewer benefits, reduced job security, and more work. This year of “austerity” began with an increase in the payroll tax rate for over 150 million wage-and-salary earners from 4.2 to 6.2 per cent (a 48% increase from 2012) — a far more significant tax event than the trivial — but wildly hyped — increase of taxes on those earning over $450,000 annually from 35 to 39.6 per cent (a 13% increase from 2012). Austerity deepens as Republicans and Democrats negotiate merely details of their agreements to cut government spending on social programs helping working people.

Between the crisis and today’s austerity policies lie the bailouts — a bought government’s program to aid mega-finance and other large corporations with unlimited funds unmatched by anything comparable for the mass of working people and smaller businesses. The bailouts worked for them, for the large corporations who secured them for themselves. For that reason, “recovery” blessed them while it bypassed everyone else. Now austerity policies shift onto the general population major portions of the costs of the crisis and the bailouts. The situation is so bad and US government complicity with capitalists at the people’s expense so exposed that the capitalist system is becoming questionable. Criticism challenges the last half-century’s treatment of capitalism as the absolutely best possible economic system, beyond any need for discussion or debate, justifiably implanted around the world by military force, etc.

First of all, this deep and long crisis undermines decades of confident assurances and predictions that another deep capitalist depression was no longer likely or even possible. Capitalism’s inherent instability overwhelmed and thus proved the futility of efforts to prevent its crises. Moreover, both conventional and extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies failed repeatedly to bring Europe, Japan, and the US out of the crisis. Central banks, international agencies, and national executives charged with economic responsibilities have, since 2007, spoken with assurance and met often, posed for media photos, puffed and threatened, made a few last-minute, stop-gap agreements, resolved to meet again and do more at the next meeting. However, the crisis continued for most people. In many places it has gotten much worse. All this challenges glib notions that capitalism’s highest authorities have the system “under control.”

Implicitly, at first, millions of people began to question whether capitalism does still “deliver the goods” as its defenders so long insisted. In the US, declining economic conditions for parents coupled with rising school debts and declining job prospects for their children suggest rather that capitalism “delivers the bads.” The widening inequalities of wealth and income that contributed to the crisis have in turn been further aggravated by it.

Continue reading Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

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

China’s ‘Bad Emperor’ Problem – Francis Fukuyama

For more than 2000 years, the Chinese political system has been built around a highly sophisticated centralized bureaucracy, which has run what has always been a vast society through top-down methods.  What China never developed was a rule of law, that is, an independent legal institution that would limit the discretion of the government, or democratic accountability.  What the Chinese substituted for formal checks on power was a bureaucracy bound by rules and customs which made its behavior reasonably predictable, and a Confucian moral system that educated leaders to look to public interests rather than their own aggrandizement.  This system is, in essence, the same one that is operating today, with the Chinese Communist Party taking the role of Emperor.

Continue reading China’s ‘Bad Emperor’ Problem – Francis Fukuyama

Chicago Tribune – 10 reasons why Pakistan should apologize to U.S.

By Malik Siraj Akbar

Pakistan‘sobsession with extracting an apology from the U.S. for airstrikes that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops last year seems dubious considering its own questionable commitment in the fight against terrorism.

Instead of jeopardizing U.S. efforts in South Asia, the Pakistani government should instead show courage by owning up to its destructive policies and apologize for its mishaps.

Here are at least 10 reasons why Pakistan owes the U.S. its deepest apology:

1. Osama bin Laden: On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed near the Pakistan Military Academy, the equivalent of West Point. Pakistan was receiving about $18 billion from the U.S. to dismantle al-Qaida, while bin Laden was living comfortably with his wives and children in Abbottabad. Instead of apologizing for its complicity or incompetence, Pakistan vigorously protested violation of its sovereignty by theU.S. military operation that killed bin Laden. In fact, Pakistan’s National Assembly offered religious prayers for bin Laden, and civilian protests across the country condemned the killing.

2. Doctor on trial: Last week, Dr. Shakil Afridi, a surgeon who helped the CIA locate bin Laden’s whereabouts under the cover of a vaccination campaign, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison and fined about $3,500. So, let’s get this straight. Pakistan publicly pledges to eliminate terrorism, yet punishes its citizens for helping to do so?

3. Embassy attack: On Sept. 13, 2011, well-equipped insurgents linked to the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban, attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, the then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said the network is a “veritable arm” ofInter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani spy agency. Instead of working to dismantle the terror network, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani complained that his country was being “singled out,” and that it was “neither fair nor productive.” Hence, the network continues to undermine coalition efforts in Afghanistan.

Continue reading Chicago Tribune – 10 reasons why Pakistan should apologize to U.S.

New York Times – How Pakistan Lets Terrorism Fester – By HUSAIN HAQQANI

ON the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last week, Pakistan was the only Muslim country in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered to show solidarity with the dead terrorist figurehead.

Yet rather than asking tough questions about how Bin Laden had managed to live unmolested in Pakistan for years, the Pakistani Supreme Court instead chose to punish the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, by charging him with contempt for failing to carry out the court’s own partisan agenda in this case, pressuring the Swiss government to reopen a decades-old corruption investigation of President Asif Ali Zardari. (Never mind that Swiss officials say they are unlikely to revisit the charges.)

In handing down the decision, one justice chose to paraphrase the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. He held forth in a long appeal to religious-nationalist sentiment that began with the line, “Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability, which are the essence of every religion.”

That a Supreme Court justice would cite poetry instead of law while sentencing an elected leader on questionable charges reflects Pakistan’s deep state of denial about its true national priorities at a time when the country is threatened by religious extremism and terrorism.

Today, Pakistan is polarized between those who envision a modern, pluralist country and those who condone violence against minorities and terrorism in the name of Islam. Many are caught in the middle; they support the pluralist vision but dislike the politicians espousing it.

Meanwhile, an elephant in the room remains. We still don’t know who enabled Bin Laden to live freely in Pakistan. Documents found on computers in his compound offer no direct evidence of support from Pakistan’s government, army or intelligence services. But even if Bin Laden relied on a private support network, our courts should be focused on identifying, arresting and prosecuting the individuals who helped him. Unfortunately, their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.

In Pakistan, most of the debate about Bin Laden has centered on how and why America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by unilaterally carrying out an operation to kill him. There has been little discussion about whether the presence of the world’s most-wanted terrorist in a garrison town filled with army officers was itself a threat to the sovereignty and security of Pakistan.

Pakistanis are right to see themselves as victims of terrorism and to be offended by American unilateralism in dealing with it. Last year alone, 4,447 people were killed in 476 major terrorist attacks. Over the last decade, thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have died fighting terrorists – both homegrown, and those inspired by Al Qaeda’s nihilist ideology.

But if anything, the reaction should be to gear up and fight jihadist ideology and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in its name; they remain the gravest threat to Pakistan’s stability. Instead, our national discourse has been hijacked by those seeking to deflect attention from militant Islamic extremism.

The national mind-set that condones this sort of extremism was cultivated and encouraged under the military dictatorships of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988 and Gen. Pervez Musharraf from 1999 to 2008. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown up with textbooks that conflate Pakistani nationalism with Islamist exclusivism.

Anti-Western sentiment and a sense of collective victimhood were cultivated as a substitute for serious debate on social or economic policy. Militant groups were given free rein, originally with American support, to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later became an instrument of Pakistani regional influence there and in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan’s return to democracy, after the elections of 2008, offered hope. But the elected government has since been hobbled by domestic political infighting and judicial activism on every issue except extremism and terrorism.

Before Mr. Musharraf was ousted, a populist lawyers’ movement successfully challenged his firing of Supreme Court justices. The lawyers’ willingness to confront Mr. Musharraf in his last days raised hopes of a new era. But over the last four years, the Court has spent most of its energy trying to dislodge the government by insisting on reopening cases of alleged corruption from the 1990s. During the same period, no significant terrorist leader has been convicted, and many have been set free by judges who overtly sympathize with their ideology.

This has happened because the lawyers’ movement split into two factions after Mr. Musharraf’s fall: those emphasizing the rule of law and those seeking to use the judiciary as a rival to elected leaders.

Asma Jahangir, who helped lead the lawyers’ movement, has become a critic of the courts, accusing them of overstepping their constitutional mandate and falling under the influence of the security establishment. And Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented the Supreme Court’s chief justice during the lawyers’ showdown with Mr. Musharraf, is now Prime Minister Gilani’s lawyer in the contempt-of-court case – a clear indication of the political realignment that has taken place.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s raucous media, whose hard-won freedom is crucial for the success of democracy, has done little to help generate support for eliminating extremism and fighting terrorism. The Supreme Court, conservative opposition parties and the news media insist that confronting alleged incompetence and corruption in the current government is more important than turning Pakistan away from Islamist radicalism.

Continue reading New York Times – How Pakistan Lets Terrorism Fester – By HUSAIN HAQQANI

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

PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab said that Shah Mehmood Qureshi had ditched the party leadership and it was not the first time he had done so!

Loyalists open fire on Qureshi

By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: Former foreign affairs minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has no future in Pakistan People’s Party, Information Secretary of the PPP Fauzia Wahab declared here on Sunday.

“Serious disciplinary action will be taken against him (Mr Qureshi) for violating the party discipline and humiliating its leadership,” Ms Wahab said while talking to Dawn.

Former minister Raja Pervez Ashraf also criticised Mr Qureshi for allegedly trying to blackmail the party.

The information secretary said that Mr Qureshi had ditched the party leadership and it was not the first time he had done so.

She said that Mr Qureshi’s role as foreign minister over the past three years had been questionable, …

Read more : DAWN

Pakistan’s Road to Disintegration?

Interviewee:
Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Interviewer:
Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

In the first few days of this year, Pakistan’s coalition government was thrust into crisis after losing a coalition partner, and then a top politician–Punjab Governor Salman Taseer–was assassinated. A leading expert on the country, Stephen P. Cohen, says these incidents are symptoms of the profound problems tugging the country apart. “The fundamentals of the state are either failing or questionable, and this applies to both the idea of Pakistan, the ideology of the state, the purpose of the state, and also to the coherence of the state itself,” Cohen says. “I wouldn’t predict a comprehensive failure soon, but clearly that’s the direction in which Pakistan is moving.” On a recent trip, he was struck by the growing sense of insecurity in Pakistan, even within the military, and the growing importance of China. …
Read more : COUNCIL on FOREIGN RELATIONS