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The army chief, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, recently invited a team of journalists for a briefing, ostensibly to dispel rumours about the military standing in the way of the next elections. But alongside, he took the opportunity to seriously question the capacity of the politicians to handle affairs of the state, particularly their inability to resettle Swat after the army operation, the Hazara killings in Balochistan and the issue of terrorism in the country. The general also took a dig at the Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim for failing to recognise the COAS after a two-hour-long meeting with him. The incident was clearly intended as a comment on the mental capacity of the CEC.
The meeting generated a lot of excitement. Some prominent journalists immediately eulogised the military commander’s sincerity in letting democracy thrive in the country. How serious the general is about democracy, however, remains to be seen. What this dialogue portends for the future of politics and the security of Pakistanis is a moot point.
If it were another country, the meeting would not even have taken place, let alone been reported on. One would like to remind the good general that in decent states, people usually do not remember the face or even the name of the army chief. And more importantly, the army chief calling journalists for a private, ‘chamber orchestra’ kind of meeting is a fairly sinister tool for intervention in politics. This is one of the many methods for derailing the democratic process. It started with General Musharraf, who was extremely fond of talking and would very often invite journalists and academics to “enlighten” them with his perspective on various national issues. General Kayani operates differently. He invites journalists and, reportedly, he sits there strategically dropping pearls of wisdom to set the tone for a debate. He launches an idea and then goes quiet. The moments of silence are filled allegedly by some of the “planted” minions in the meetings who then give interpretations of what they believe are Kayani’s thoughts. He offers no comments; he only runs rings of cigarette smoke around his captive audience.
Interestingly, he is not the only one who meets with journalists. The ISPR and the ISI have always had their own lines of communication with the media. This is not to trade any secrets, but to create a certain discourse that helps boost the army’s image vis-à-vis the politicians.’
Asma Jehangir blasts Pasha for meeting Mansoor Ijaz
ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had adopted a soft attitude towards the military leadership, the top spymaster came under intense scrutiny in the Supreme Court hearing a set of petitions in the memo case here on Tuesday.
“I called these petitions ‘benami’ (anonymous) because two of its respondents are the actual petitioners,” Advocate Asma Jehangir argued while alluding to Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha who are named as parties in the petitions.
In her usual assertive and hard-hitting style, Ms Jehangir, the counsel for former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, asked why one of the petitioners changed his mind two days after writing a letter to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and then filing petitions in the Supreme Court. …
Read more » DAWN.COM
Fascinating peek inside the latest Atlantic (in a cover story shared with sister pub National Journal) on the perilous security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Payoff grafs:
…instead of moving nuclear material in armored, well-defended convoys, the [Pakistani government] prefers to move material by subterfuge, in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic…according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, the Pakistanis have begun using this low-security method to transfer not merely the “de-mated” component nuclear parts but “mated” nuclear weapons. Western nuclear experts have feared that Pakistan is building small, “tactical” nuclear weapons for quick deployment on the battlefield. In fact, not only is Pakistan building these devices, it is also now moving them over roads.
What this means, in essence, is this: In a country that is home to the harshest variants of Muslim fundamentalism, and to the headquarters of the organizations that espouse these extremist ideologies…nuclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads. And Pakistani and American sources say that since the raid on Abbottabad, the Pakistanis have provoked anxiety inside the Pentagon by increasing the pace of these movements. In other words, the Pakistani government is willing to make its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists simply to hide them from the United States, the country that funds much of its military budget.
The party of Imran Farooq, who has been assassinated in London, has a dark reputation that it has never left behind
by Declan Walsh in Islamabad
It is one of the great enigmas of Pakistani politics. For over 18 years the affairs of Karachi, the country’s largest city and thrumming economic hub, have been run from a shabby office block more than 4,000 miles away in a suburb of north London.
The man at the heart of this unusual situation is Altaf Hussain, a barrel-shaped man with a caterpillar moustache and a vigorous oratorical style who inspires both reverence and fear in the sprawling south Asian city he effectively runs by remote control.
Hussain is the undisputed tsar of the mohajirs, the descendents of Muslim migrants who flooded into Pakistan during the tumult of partition from India in 1947, and who today form Karachi’s largest ethnic group.
A firebrand of student politics, Hussain galvanized the mohajirs into a potent political force in 1984, when he formed the Mohajir Qaumi Movement – now known as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM. The party swept elections in the city in 1987 and 1988 but quickly developed a reputation for violence.
At early rallies Hussain surrounded himself with gunmen and urged supporters to “sell your VCRs and buy kalashnikovs”; violence later erupted between the MQM and ethnic Sindhi rivals and, later, against the army, which deployed troops to Karachi in the early 1990s. …
Read more → guardian.co.uk
Professor`s sacking brings students to streets
By Jamal Shahid
ISLAMABAD, April 4: Students of Bahria University on Monday protested against the unceremonious sacking of a professor.
Carrying placards with messages like “Save Bahria University from dictatorship” and “Oppression on campus,” the students chanted slogans against the university administration particularly its Rector Vice Admiral (retired) Mohammad Haroon for military style control and disrespecting the faculty member. …
Read more : DAWN
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
Niira Radia is Madam Power
by B. R. GOWANI
The elections, Western style, is the only criteria to be considered for any country to be qualified as a “democracy.” India, of course, has ritually held elections since its independence from Britain in 1947 and has called itself the “largest democracy.” But beyond that, the system is as rotten as it can be. The Transparency International’s 2010 report on corruption ranked India at 87th place out of 178 countries. The people in India don’t need any reports to tell them how corrupt the entire system is because they experience it everyday. On the other hand, corruption in nation’s upper echelon has been confirmed by the recent “Radiagate” scandal–India’s WikiLeaks.
While the United States is busy saving its face in the wake of the WikiLeaks’s release of the cables of US diplomats’ conversations around the world, some Indian politicians (in power and in opposition), industrialists, journalists, ministers, lobbyists, and others are trying to extricate themselves from the mess they’ve been plunged into due to the release of the telephone tapes of conversations between them and Niira Radia–probably the greatest lobbyist India has ever seen. It is alleged that she herself has accumulated a decent amount of money too; Rs.300 crore, i.e., over US$66 million.
Read more : Globeistan