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CNN sees some positive things happening in Pakistan

What’s working in Pakistan

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

(CNN) — Pakistan can’t get no respect.

In 2007, Newsweek published an influential cover story proclaiming it “the most dangerous country in the world.”

The bill of particulars for this indictment typically includes the inarguable facts that the Taliban is headquartered in Pakistan, as is what remains of al-Qaeda, as well as an alphabet soup of other jihadist terrorist groups.

And in 2011, it became embarrassingly clear that Pakistan had harbored Osama bin Laden for almost a decade, even if unwittingly, in a city not far from the capital, Islamabad.

Leading Pakistani liberals are routinely assassinated by militants. Two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed when she returned from exile in 2007.

Around three years later, the governor of Punjab was shot to death by one of his own bodyguards because he had the temerity to suggest, correctly, that Pakistan’s onerous blasphemy laws tend to penalize its tiny Christian minority. The governor’s assassin was feted as a hero by many Pakistanis.

Pakistani scientists have proliferated nuclear technology to the rogue state of North Korea. And Pakistan now has the fastest-growing nuclear weapons program in the world.

Pakistan is also routinely gripped by Sunni-Shia violence, has a serious secessionist movement in the vast gas-rich province of Baluchistan and its financial capital, Karachi, is one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

Add to this toxic brew the fact that Pakistan operates like a tea party paradise; only about 2% of the population pays income taxes, as a result of which the government doesn’t do much of anything for anybody.

Lengthy power cuts are hollowing out Pakistan’s already weak economy, which, at its present 3% growth rate, cannot possibly sustain Pakistan’s youth bulge.

But there is another side to Pakistan that suggests some underlying strengths that don’t make quite as good copy as the Taliban marching towards Islamabad, as they did in 2009.

Those strengths are Pakistan’s maturing institutions.

Pakistan has a largely ineffectual state, but it has a vibrant civil society that picks up at least some of the government’s slack. The private Edhi Foundation, for instance, runs a fleet of 1,800 ambulances and a slew of other welfare services for the poor across Pakistan.

As a result of this strong civil society, Pakistan had its version of the Arab Spring long before the wave of demands for accountable governments emerged in the Middle East. It was, after all, a movement of thousands of lawyers taking to the streets protesting the sacking of the Supreme Court chief justice by the military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 2007 that helped to dislodge Musharraf from power.

Pakistan has a vibrant media. A decade ago, there was only Pakistan TV, which featured leaden government propaganda. Now there are dozens of news channels: many of them conspiracist and anti-American, but many of them also anti-Taliban and pro-democracy.

In the past year, the Supreme Court has taken on the IsI, Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency, successfully demanding that the organization produce prisoners who had disappeared for years.

In November, Pakistan agreed to a pact with long-time rival India granting India “most favored nation” trading status; something that would have been unimaginable a few years back. This important development was sanctioned by Pakistan’s powerful army, which is a significant player in the country’s economy and understands that one way out of Pakistan’s economic mess is to hitch itself to India’s much larger economy.

Continue reading CNN sees some positive things happening in Pakistan

An outrageous ban – The Express Tribune

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has banned Shezan drinks from subordinate court complexes on the basis that it belongs to  Ahmadi

By Editorial

Things in our country are really moving from the absurd, to even more absurd. And most frightening of all is the hatred that flows with this madness. The latest example of this comes at the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) — where lawyers following a campaign led by the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum — have banned the sale of drinks manufactured by the Shehzan Company from canteens at all subordinate courts on the basis that it is an Ahmadi concern. This action takes discrimination against the Ahmadi community to new heights. We can only wonder if the instigators of this plot imagine that sipping the ‘offensive’ drink will in some way contaminate their minds, or alter beliefs. Everyone, after all, has the right to follow the religious philosophy they adhere to — and no drink can alter this. The real aim, of course, is to attempt to hurt the economic interests of the Ahmadis — who have through the decades been subjected to violence in all kinds of different forums, whether it is through physical acts such as murder or other means intended to prevent them from occupying a place as equal citizens in society. The Shezan Company has also been targeted before, during mob violence and through other such means.

The LBA president has said that around 100 lawyers voted in favour of the decision. It is frightening that a so-called ‘educated community’ of professionals could take a decision such as this. The evil of ignorance has obviously sunk deep within our society, leaving scars everywhere. The knives which inflict these wounds are carried by groups dedicated to spreading intolerance and campaigning against the minorities. The Ahmadis, of course, draw the special wrath of the forces committed to acting against them. When professionals such as lawyers, who should know more about justice than most, join hands with them, we can only wonder about the future of our country and ask what grim abyss we are headed for. The direction we have set out in does not augur well for the coming years — with this move also certain to hurt Ahmadi lawyers who practice at lower courts.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.

 http://tribune.com.pk/story/335000/an-outrageous-ban/

Dirty Laundry – By:Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

I want to name names and point fingers, but I can’t. Honour among thieves and that sort of thing

I make my living off the evening news Just gimme something, something I can use, People love it when you lose They love dirty laundry …

Read more » Pakistan Today

In Unstable Fields

Comment by Omar Ali

The writer is a former Secretary of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (an agency no more capable than other arms of the Indian government, but thought in Pakistan to possess superhuman powers and very beautiful female agents who trap Pakistani patriots, or so we hope).  His views on things to come..

To read the article » In unstable fields by Vikram Sood » CLICK HERE

Via » Brown Pundits

Peace and politics under the praetorian shadow – I

– by Dr Mohammad Taqi

Under the praetorian shadow, not only peace in Afghanistan remained elusive but the blowback also ravaged Pakistan and weakened its moderate political forces

“In the summer of ‘96 we laughed. I can’t remember the sound. Before that September when the Taliban came we were no different than you.

Now we are the ghosts of Afghanistan the women and the girls of a whole country under house arrest.” — From Sue Silvermarie’s poem The Ghosts of Afghanistan.

The events of the last few weeks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, though deeply disturbing and tragic, have helped clarify several things. ….

Read more → Daily Times

Pakistan’s military and legislators plan peace talks with Taliban

– In the midst of bad and worsening relations with Washington, Pakistan considers new round of peace talks with Pakistan-based Taliban, arguing that ‘military solutions’ are making things worse.

By Owais Tohid

Excerpt;

……. But analysts believe that striking negotiations with Islamic militants will pose serious challenges. “We struck peace accords with militant commanders during the past and those blew up on our face,” says Peshawar-based defense analyst, retired Brig. Mohammad Saad. “Once you enter into negotiations, they [the militants] grow bigger than their size and start believing themselves as equal. The more the state talks to them, they will become a bigger problem in Pakistan.”

“Their agenda is different,” Brigadier Saad adds. “Their ideology is in clash with the norms and values of any modern civilized society.” …..

To read complete article → csmonitor