Tag Archives: term

Efforts to unseat elected govt through courts is ‘Contempt for Voters’ – Guardian Editorial

Pakistan politics: contempt for voters

Legality of supreme court’s move to unseat democratically elected government before its term is highly debatable

The national reconciliation ordinance was a dirty deal, brokered by the Bush administration, between Pakistan’s then military ruler Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. It allowed her to return from exile and take part in elections in exchange for the dropping of corruption charges against her husband Asif Ali Zardari and other officials. The constitutional court was right to declare it unconstitutional two years later in 2009 and, it could be argued, equally right to demand the current government’s full implementation of the court’s decision.

The court is trying to do this by requiring the serving prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, to write to the Swiss authorities asking them to reopen a corruption inquiry against Mr Zardari. This the prime minister refuses to do on the grounds that Mr Zardari, who is now president, enjoys executive immunity from prosecution both inside and outside the country. The immunity the president enjoys while in office has not been the issue in the court, only Mr Gilani’s failure to comply with an unimplementable order. Yesterday he was charged with contempt, a move which could lead to his dismissal from office. If the legality of the court’s move is debatable, the politics of it are extremely murky.

First the timing. Having sat on this issue for three years, the supreme court are only now moving against Mr Gilani, who has become Pakistan’s longest serving prime minister. He was also the only one to be have been voted unanimously in power by parliament. Why now? With elections coming up in March 2013 which the leading party in the coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party, could very well win, this is an attempt to stop the civilian government from consolidating its power. In past eras this would have been done by tanks and generals. Today, it is been done by using supreme court justices as proxies. That may be called progress, but the manoeuvre to unseat a democratically elected government before its term is up remains the same.

Further, no domestic proceedings are being brought against President Zardari. They want a foreign government to do their work for them. Nor is any politician in Pakistan in a rush to challenge the rule of the executive immunity from prosecution for the simple reason that in power they would be sure to benefit from it as well. Once Mr Zardari loses office, fairly and at an election, he will lose that immunity and it is entirely right that he should have to account for allegations that he received kickbacks in a court of law. But that is not the purpose of yesterday’s contempt hearing. It is to sow political chaos and Mr Gilani is right to resist it. If he is convicted and forced from office, he will become a martyr in his party’s eyes. This will only propel his career forward.

Courtesy: Guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/13/pakistan-politics-contempt-voters?newsfeed=true

via » WICHAAR.COM

In India the Army Chief is disowned by the Supreme Court

Age row: ‘Graceful’ end to dispute with the government, says Army Chief

By Nitin Gokhale, A Vaidyanathan and Sidharth Pandey

New Delhi: The Army chief’s decision to take the government to court over his age turns out to have been a huge miscalculation. The Supreme Court today sided with the government, forcing General VK Singh to withdraw his petition by lunch time. His lawyer said the dispute ended “gracefully” and restored “the honour and integrity” of the chief. Many dismiss that assessment as heavily spin-doctored, and say General Singh may quit before his term expires at the end of May.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/age-row-graceful-end-to-dispute-with-the-government-says-army-chief-175282&cp

Sindh – American Flood Assistance Already at Work

More than 50,000 families reached in Sindh

Islamabad, September 13, 2011 (press release)– In response to the Government of Pakistan’s disaster declaration on September 9, the United States has immediately begun providing a broad range of assistance to Sindh communities affected by this year’s floods, including food supplies for more than 50,000 families, and safe drinking water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and basic health care for thousands more.

“Assistance provided by the United States will help thousands of flood-affected families attend to their immediate needs over the next few weeks,” said Andrew Sisson, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development Mission.

This support is part of the broader U.S. Government commitment to assisting the people of Pakistan by supporting long-term development in times of immediate crisis. It will be delivered by local and international organizations specializing in relief work.

Already, USAID-funded food packages have reached 23,000 families in seven districts of Sindh (Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tando Muhammed Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Tharparker, Umarkot, and Hyderabad). This assistance was delivered by the International Organization for Migration. USAID also paid for nearly 60 trucks to deliver relief to affected areas and 1,000 plastic tarpaulins for shelter, and is financing other efforts to coordinate relief activities.

In the coming days, U.S.-funded relief supplies, including shelter materials, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene provisions will be provided through the Rural Support Programs Network, a Pakistani non-governmental organization. The United States is also contributing funding for 26,000 food packages to be distributed by the World Food Program.

The U.S. has also provided funding to the Agha Khan University’s mobile health unit, which is providing health care to affected communities in to Badin District. Additional U.S.-sponsored medical teams will begin working in other heavily flooded areas within the next several days. These health services are crucial in preventing and treating diarrhea, malaria, and other diseases that typically follow floods.

Courtesy- Information Office, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Islamabad, Pakistan

http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/

Via → Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, September 13, 2011.

Why to blame MQM, when PPP leadership is there for capitulation to preserve their narrow personal short-term interests and has nothing to do with the welfare of the people

– Potters’ wares – by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Watayo Faqir is to Sindh what Mullah Naseerudin is to Turkey, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Once someone informed Watayo that his mother had gone crazy and was writhing in the dust in the city centre; knowing his mother acted oddly at times he was nonetheless surprised. Reaching home he inquired; she replied that having seen a rupee coin in the path and thinking that if she picks it up someone would claim it, the best way was to act crazy and pocket it without anyone suspecting. Watayo said, “I knew my mother would not be all that crazy without a very good reason.”

What the PPP leadership terms as the policy of reconciliation is in fact a policy of capitulation for preserving their narrow personal short-term interests and has nothing to do with the welfare or benefit of the people in general and Sindhis in particular. But then nothing better can be expected from people whose politics are based on self-interest.

National interest and preservation of democracy is mendaciously bandied about as the reason behind the vacillations, oscillations, dithering and capitulation of the PPP, which would shame even the most brazen politician of any country, to appease the MQM. The sole purpose behind these brazen transmogrifications is the self-interest of the elite of these two parties who do not even bother to ask their colleagues’ opinions. Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Taj Haider and Nabeel Gabol have come out openly against this ludicrous pantomime. Naturally, no one from the MQM wants to end up in a gunny bag so there has not been a squeak from anyone; any way why would the victors complain?

The resentment amongst the people of Sindh is palpable and their anger at the PPP’s capitulation was expressed by the success of the strike called by the nationalist parties on August 8 and 13. Even PPP members have taken to the streets against the latest capitulation. This pusillanimous and chronic backtracking has made them an object of ridicule and derision for common people because those who forge and implement these preposterous decisions live in inaccessible mansions away from the grubby masses. This habitual volte-face along with the carefree attitude towards the views and problems of workers is isolating the PPP from whatever support that has survived.

The MQM is a different entity; it is ruled from London and only absolute submission is the rule — dissenters are meted out horrible punishments. It is a party that is based on terror, oiled by terror and thrives on terror. This is how this organisation is run and there is no other way for its survival. A quote by George MacDonald (1824-1905), a Scottish poet and author, fits to a T all fascist organisations and individuals. He says, “A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.”

The terrorism perpetrated after Zulfiqar Mirza’s statement left a trail of destruction in its wake because the call to teach him a lesson resulted in a score killed and properties and vehicles destroyed. This carnage was one of the sequels of the May 12 incident; there have been quite a few follow up episodes of that successful run of the show by the MQM during the Musharraf era. Oddly, no one is ready to blame the real culprits in Karachi.

The much flaunted powerbase and mandate have been acquired by sowing terror. All elections are massively rigged and manipulated and all parties practice it in places where they can cow the election staff. The MQM always boasts of a mind-boggling number of votes cast in their constituencies and this they do through fraudulently stuffing ballot boxes. The number of votes that the MQM claims cannot physically be cast in the limited time period and the cumbersome procedure that is required to cast a single vote. This rigging is done to lay claim to being the majority’s representative. This comes in handy to intimidate others into submission through threats. A heavy and unhindered presence of international observers during the elections could expose this mandate farce any day. …

Read more → Daily Times

The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

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Demanding Answers From Pakistan

By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

SINCE the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has behaved toward the United States as both friend and adversary — and gotten away with it. The latest evidence of its duplicity is the revelation that Osama bin Laden lived for years in a house near Pakistan’s national military academy and a local branch of its intelligence service without any evident interference.

Even before the American raid last week on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan had a huge credibility problem. It provides arms and safe haven for Afghan insurgent groups and pays their commanders to carry out attacks, but denies doing so.

Continue reading Demanding Answers From Pakistan

The myopia continues – Cyril Almeida

Excerpt:

…..  Well, no less a person than the American president has weighed in on what he thinks ought to be the fate of a piddling employee/contractor of the American government.

Whatever spurred those comments — he was asked a question rather than made a prepared statement — you can be sure the weight and might of the American state machinery will press very, very hard to ensure their president isn’t embarrassed by the self-righteous defiance of some judges and a few politicians in a country surviving on American handouts.

The Americans want their guy back and, by golly, they seem bent on getting their way. Which leaves our response.

By now the cat is out of the bag. When the interior minister, the ex-foreign minister and the all-powerful spy chief met to decide the fate of Raymond Davis, two of those gents were of the opinion that Davis doesn’t enjoy ‘full immunity’.

One of those two has now been fired by Zardari. The other, well, if Zardari tried to fire him, the president might find himself out of a job first.

Which leaves the obvious question: once the government had, surprise, surprise, screwed up, what did the self-appointed custodians of the national interest make of the situation?

Forget all that mishegoss about Vienna conventions and legal minutiae and the like. In its dealings with the US over the past decade, the security establishment’s concern for the letter of the law has been, at best, patchy.

Tongues are wagging in Islamabad that the calculus would have been far simpler: through a stroke of luck, the Pakistani state now has something the Americans desperately want back — Raymond Davis — so what will the Americans be willing to give in return?

The Davis incident has come at a time when by all accounts relations between the US and Pakistan were growing more tense, and worse was expected in the months ahead. All manner of American pressure was expected to be put on Pakistan to further US counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency goals in this country and across the border in Afghanistan.

Some believe the contours of the security establishment’s response had become visible in recent months: discreetly and indirectly encourage anti-American sentiment in the country as a bulwark against American pressure. If/when the Americans leaned too heavily on the security establishment here, the generals would be able to turn around and say, we can’t do what you want, the people won’t let us.

But long after Raymond Davis is back home in the US, hawking his talents in the lucrative private sector there, we here in Pakistan will still be stuck with the fallout.

The security establishment seems to view extremist sentiment like a faucet: turn it off, turn it on, leave it half open, depending on the need of the hour. But in the real world it doesn’t quite work like that.

Once released into society, the poison lingers on, its pernicious effects revealed years and maybe even decades later. Kind of what Pakistan looks like today, 30 years since Zia tried to Islamise this unfortunate land and her luckless people.

The recent evidence is just as harrowing. Hafiz Saeed was trotted out in support of the blasphemy laws, and everyone knows what that fire ended up consuming. Now the right-wing is up in arms again, demanding the head of Raymond Davis, arguing for a swap with Aafia Siddiqui, crying out for the lives of Pakistanis to be treated at par with American lives — with the security establishment passively looking on, possibly counting the benefits.

Who knows, the arrogant Americans may or may not get their way on Raymond Davis. The security establishment may or may not be able to wrest some compromises from the US in return for facilitating the release of Davis.

But Pakistani society will be uglier, more intolerant and a little more vicious as a result — and that surely cannot be worth whatever the short-term tactical advantage which may or may not be gained.

Read more : DAWN