Tag Archives: Turmoil

IMF Warns G-20 of Deflation Risk, Emerging-Market Turmoil

By Sandrine Rastello

Risks of prolonged market turmoil in emerging markets and of deflation in the euro area are threatening the world’s improved economic prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF, in a staff report prepared for central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of 20, said the recovery is still weak and “significant downside risks remain.” A January global growth forecast of 3.7 percent for this year, from 3 percent in 2013, hinges on recent market volatility from Turkey to Brazil being short-lived, according to the report.

“Capital outflows, higher interest rates, and sharp currency depreciation in emerging economies remain a key concern,” according to the report prepared ahead of the G-20 Feb. 22-23 meeting in Sydney. “A new risk stems from very low inflation in the euro area, where long-term inflation expectations might drift down, raising deflation risks in the event of a serious adverse shock to activity.”

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-19/imf-warns-g-20-of-risks-of-deflation-emerging-market-turmoil.html

Commentary: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world

By Xinhua writer Liu Chang

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.

Emerging from the bloodshed of the Second World War as the world’s most powerful nation, the United States has since then been trying to build a global empire by imposing a postwar world order, fueling recovery in Europe, and encouraging regime-change in nations that it deems hardly Washington-friendly.

With its seemingly unrivaled economic and military might, the United States has declared that it has vital national interests to protect in nearly every corner of the globe, and been habituated to meddling in the business of other countries and regions far away from its shores.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders.

Under what is known as the Pax-Americana, we fail to see a world where the United States is helping to defuse violence and conflicts, reduce poor and displaced population, and bring about real, lasting peace.

Moreover, instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.

As a result, the world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites, while bombings and killings have become virtually daily routines in Iraq years after Washington claimed it has liberated its people from tyrannical rule.

Continue reading Commentary: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world

Sindh after the SPLGA

By Naseer Memon

Impregnated with ethnic strife, the Sindh Peoples Local Government Act (SPLGA) created an unprecedented anti-PPP sentiment in its stronghold, Sindh. Proceedings of the Supreme Court, hearing a petition seeking annulment of the law, were indicative of an inclement outcome for the government. The recent experience of by-elections also sent waves of consternation in the ruling camp as its candidates faced pillories from opponents and disgruntled masses on the same law. All these factors constrained the PPP to cajole its ally to rescind the politically incendiary law. The belated adieu by the MQM to the government is viewed as an overtly cosmetic move under a premeditated script. On the day that acting governor of Sindh, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, signed to repeal the SPLGA, the Karachi Stock Exchange recorded bonanza business — unimaginable if it was not a mock war between the two parties. Nevertheless, the interment of a divisive law averted a lurking ethnic frenzy in the province, already mired with unremitting violence, especially in Karachi.

In the presence of this law, the next general elections could have been a nightmare for the PPP in Sindh. Although the opposition has been disarmed of its would-be most popular slogan of divisive law, the lacklustre performance of the PPP during the past five years has sufficiently exasperated its voters. Rampant corruption, brazen violation of merit in postings and transfers, displacement of several million flood affectees, substandard quality of social sector services, ubiquitous lawlessness, shabby infrastructure and scruffy towns can provide ample ammunition for the election campaign of opposition parties. For the PPP, the past platitude of victimisation and martyrdom of the Bhuttos has lost its lustre to fascinate the masses this time. Portending this ominous fact, the party has embarked upon a medley of actions, including cajoling feudal lords in Sindh.

Continue reading Sindh after the SPLGA

Pakistan turmoil deepens as court orders PM’s arrest

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik & Matthew Green

ISLAMABAD | Agency: Reuters – Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister on Tuesday in connection with an alleged corruption scandal, ratcheting up pressure on a government locked in a showdown with a cleric who has a history of ties to the army.

The combination of the arrest order and a mass street protest in the capital Islamabad led by Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri raised fears among politicians that the military was working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader.

“There is no doubt that Qadri’s march and the Supreme Court’s verdict were masterminded by the military establishment of Pakistan,” Fawad Chaudhry, an aide to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, told Reuters. “The military can intervene at this moment as the Supreme Court has opened a way for it.”

Thousands of followers of Qadri camped near the federal parliament cheered as television channels broadcast news of the Supreme Court’s order to arrest Ashraf on charges of corruption, who took over in June after judges disqualified his predecessor. Pakistan’s powerful army has a long history of coups and intervening in politics.

These days it seems to have little appetite for a coup but many believe it still tries to exert behind-the-scenes influence on politics. The ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party has weathered a series of crises with the judiciary and military over the last few years and hopes its parliamentary majority will help it survive until elections are called within a few months.

Continue reading Pakistan turmoil deepens as court orders PM’s arrest

The Washington Post – Pakistan’s Supreme Court sets collision course with new prime minister

By Richard Leiby

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan–Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday demanded that the nation’s brand-new prime minister follow an order to reopen a long-dormant corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, setting up the likelihood of a continuing constitutional crisis.

The court last week disqualified from office Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s longest-serving prime minister, whom it convicted of contempt in April because Gilani refused to follow the same order.

The ruling party replaced Gilani with a former federal energy chief, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who has already indicated he will not comply with the order and who faces his own set of corruption charges in a separate case before the high court.

Some political and legal observers have accused the court, headed by populist, corruption-battling chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, of working to destabilize an already-shaky civilian government. Ashraf and his predecessor maintain that the constitution grants the president immunity from prosecution, but the court has consistently ruled otherwise, saying no one is above the law. …..

Read more » The Washington Post

Ashley Tellis: Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan – Rawalpindi refuses to see the writing on the wall.

Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan

By: Ashley J. Tellis

Pakistan’s Enduring Aim

Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has had one simple strategic goal on its western frontier: ensuring that Afghanistan remains a stable but subordinate entity deferential to Pakistan’s sensitivities on all matters of national security. Such deference was sought for a host of reasons. Islamabad wanted a guarantee that Kabul would not reignite the dispute over the countries’ common border (the Durand Line) and would not seek to mobilize the region’s Pashtun populations in support of either absorption into Afghanistan or the creation of a new nation. The Pakistani leadership also aimed to ensure that Afghanistan would not enter into close geopolitical affiliations with other, more powerful countries, such as the United States or India, in order to increase Kabul’s autonomy from Islamabad.

Amid the chaos that emerged after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan settled on supporting the Afghan Taliban as its strategic instrument for securing Kabul’s compliance with its objectives. Although the Taliban were not always dependable surrogates on these matters, they appeared better than other Afghan rivals, and hence Islamabad—despite its denials—has stuck by them to this day.

Whatever the intended benefits of this strategy, it has alienated both the broader Afghan populace and the government in Kabul, which now views Pakistan as a habitually hostile neighbor. It has also undermined the U.S.-led international stabilization effort in Afghanistan, as well as hopes for a peaceful security transition—not to mention infuriating Washington, which now views Pakistan as a perfidious partner. And it has provoked heightened regional rivalry involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Iran, India, the Central Asian republics, and Russia, all of whom are determined to prevent a Pakistani-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Worst of all, Islamabad’s strategy promises to fundamentally undermine Pakistani security. Every one of the three possible outcomes of the Afghan security transition leaves Pakistan in a terrible place.

Destined for Failure

Read more » http://m.ceip.org/publications/?fa=48633

For the good of democracy – By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.” — Gilbert K Chesterton

At a juncture when the propinquity of a truly democratic order was almost being taken for granted, Pakistan suffered the biggest disaster since the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. A three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who has vowed to protect democracy, sacked a democratically-elected prime minister on a matter of constitutional interpretation.

The sacked man, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and his party accepted the ruling with grace and nominated another candidate. But the day the prime ministerial nominee, Makhdum Shahabuddin, was to file his nomination papers, an anti-narcotics court issued a non-bailable warrant for his arrest, on a case that had been pending for weeks. Imagine, a court waking up on that precise day. The powers that be in the Islamic republic do not seem to care much for democracy. I have previously expressed hope in the growth of democracy and the institution building process. With the prime minister removed through an undemocratic, albeit legal method, that optimism cannot be sustained. It is clear that this is not the case of institutions clashing over boundaries, but disputes concerning other matters. Of course, the ruling party, too, is responsible for this sorry tale.

In Islamabad’s drawing rooms, it is being speculated that a government of technocrats backed by the army will soon be installed through a soft coup. Those who make these claims, carry a list of candidates for each ministry. Another theory is that the judiciary-executive tussle will result in the announcement of early elections and when the assemblies are dismissed, names in the aforementioned list will be adjusted in the caretaker cabinet, which in time, will be granted two to three years of extension. As the sacking of a prime minister and embarrassing an elected government by asking it to write a letter against its own head of state can be considered akin to protecting democracy, there is little doubt that this would also strengthen democracy.

Change may come in any shape, but if it comes through any means other than fresh elections, it will be detrimental. And change will definitely come. But let us fix responsibility for any undemocratic development. It should be remembered that the current democratic dispensation was founded on an intricate masonry of checks and balances. One function of the independent judiciary was to protect democracy. While it might have protected it from a military takeover, it has not been able to protect it from its own wrath. You can foresee the entire system collapsing. Some would say that the protectors of the Constitution have plunged the nation into another crisis-ridden bog.

If any undemocratic change comes, our armchair theoreticians assure us, it will not be limited to the cabinet and parliament alone, but will affect the judiciary as well. Perhaps, our judicial custodians have forgotten that they are part of the very democratic order that their recent verdicts seem to have so negatively impacted.

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.

Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

By M Ilyas Khan

The political pantomime played out in Pakistan over the past few years is degenerating into farce.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court terminated the career of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani – disqualifying him from office on the basis of a contempt of court conviction linked to his refusal to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari.

Two days later, a lower court issued a warrant for the arrest of Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a member of Mr Gilani’s party, just hours after he was nominated as his possible successor. Uncanny timing, some might say.

Late on Thursday night Mr Shahabuddin was still closeted with senior colleagues at the president’s house – but whether he will be a free man come morning remains to be seen.

Many in Pakistan see these developments as signs that the skirmishes between the judiciary, the military and the civilian government are now erupting into all-out war.

This is all happening at a time when the country can least afford it – relations with the West are at an all-time low, the economy is heading for disaster and people are battling severe power and fuel shortages.

To compound matters, nuclear-armed Pakistan – which is known to have promoted armed militant groups over the past two decades – has steadily been losing territory to these groups in recent years. That’s a major issue for its neighbours and the wider world.

But instead of dealing with the big problems, Pakistan’s power elite have other fish to fry.

Military role

A major part of the problem lies in the traditional domination of the military in Pakistan, and the fact that the judiciary has supported successive attempts by the generals to cut the politicians down to size.

The civilians have rarely held the reins of power, and when they have, they have always had the military establishment to contend with.

Accusations of corruption are a time-tested tool to beat the civilians with, and corruption cases lodged against them during the country’s 64-year history literally run into the hundreds. Few of those cases have ever been resolved.

But they have been successfully used to bring every single civilian government down well before the end of its constitutional five-year term.

The present administration is the longest-serving civilian government Pakistan has ever had – it is just over six months short of reaching the finish line.

If it does, it will set a new precedent – and this is an unsavoury proposition for the establishment for two reasons.

First, prolonged civilian rule is likely to permanently dent the political influence of the military, and thereby the massive business and real estate empires it has acquired.

Second, while Pakistan’s military and civil bureaucracy are dominated by Punjab province, the country’s largest vote-bank, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has its roots in the southern province of Sindh, the country’s main source of revenue and home to a distinct linguistic group that detests Punjab’s domination. So while the establishment is generally sceptical of politicians, it has been almost intolerant towards the PPP.

Judicial activism

The military is widely accused by Western powers of playing a double game in Afghanistan and lost credit in the eyes of many Pakistanis when US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in a secret raid on Pakistan’s soil.

But its diminishing ability to openly control Pakistan’s politicians has been more than offset by what some analysts describe as the judiciary’s increased ability to encroach on the administrative sphere.

This has led to a number of fierce battles between state institutions in recent years which are a distraction from the main challenges.

Since 2009, when judges sacked by the Musharraf regime were reinstated by the present government, they have shown an appetite for pursuing long-standing corruption cases against President Zardari.

Mr Zardari spent eight years in jail because of them, without being convicted in a single case.

That led to the Supreme Court’s dogged pursuit of Prime Minister Gilani and his conviction in April.

The Supreme Court also responded with alacrity late last year in investigating a controversial memo which invited the US to help avert a possible coup in Pakistan after Bin Laden’s death.

The “memogate” affair had the potential to drag in President Zardari but has led only to the dismissal of Pakistan’s then ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani. Top military leaders showed a keen interest in the case and participated in initial hearings, but gradually pulled out when questions were raised over their own political role.

Most recently, the country was stunned to find its bulwark against corruption – Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry himself – implicated in allegations of bribe-taking levelled against his son. They both deny any wrongdoing and an investigation has been ordered.

Continue reading Pakistan’s ruinous political farce

Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

Having already ousted one prime minister this week, Pakistan’s courts on Thursday sabotaged the appointment of a replacement by ordering the arrest of the man nominated to take up the job.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

The extraordinary move deepens the sense of political crisis in a country already reeling from an Islamist insurgency, economic woes and crippling power shortages.

Mahkdoom Shahabuddin, who most recently served as Textiles Minister, was due to be voted into office by parliament on Friday, replacing Yousuf Raza Gilani who was disqualified by the Supreme Court earlier this week.

Mr Shahabuddin was selected by President Asif Ali Zardari after two days of talks as the man best able to keep his coalition government alive until elections due early next year.

But no sooner had his name been announced than an arrest warrant was issued for his alleged role in a corruption scandal involving controlled drugs.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior figure in Mr Zardari’s Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP), said the arrest warrant was the latest attempt by unelected judges to bring down the government.

“This has been going on for one and a half years,” he said. “If they really believe he is involved why have they waited until today to issue an arrest warrant?”

Party leaders were meeting on Thursday night to select an alternative candidate. Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja Parvez Ashraf, both former ministers in Mr Gilani’s cabinet, filed nomination papers for the post ahead of Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Pakistan’s civilian government, military and judiciary are locked in a three-way tussle for supremacy.

Continue reading Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

“First the military used to carry out coups and now the judiciary has overthrown an elected PM” – Hasan Askari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari hoped on Wednesday to nominate a new prime minister following a night of crisis talks after the Supreme Court disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt.

The move could ease uncertainty in a country that is increasingly trying US patience over al Qaeda-linked havens, struggling with a Taliban insurgency and heading deeper towards a financial crisis that could force it back to the IMF.

The court ruling effectively dissolved the cabinet and unless the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its fractious coalition members agree on a replacement prime minister, could bring elections forward to later this year.

Ahmed Mukhtar, until recently defence minister and now minister for water and power, is thought to be the most likely candidate, favoured for his experience and unflinching loyalty to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who has made international headlines for her beauty and designer handbags, has been apparently ruled out for inexperience.

“The process of consultation is continuing. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has made up its mind to elect a new prime minister rather than confront the court and create constitutional deadlock,” a government official told AFP.

Zardari was to present “three or four names” to coalition party leaders late Tuesday to try and find a consensus, said the official.

Aside from Mukhtar, other strong candidates were Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the textiles minister, and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the commerce minister.

“If all the coalition parties agree on a name, then the PPP is expected to announce the name for new prime minister on Wednesday,” the official said.

The nominee would then need to be approved by parliament, where the PPP-led governing coalition has a majority.

The crisis is the worst in a showdown between the judiciary led by the popular, anti-corruption campaigning chief justice, and the government which waited till March 2009 to restore independent judges sacked under the military.

The Supreme Court convicted Gilani of contempt on April 26 for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen multi-million-dollar graft cases against Zardari.

Gilani always insisted Zardari had immunity as head of state and that writing to the Swiss would be a violation of Pakistan’s constitution.

The new prime minister will also come under pressure from the court, for which analysts said Zardari was determined to appoint a loyalist and someone from the central province of Punjab to supplement his powerbase in the south.

Members of the government believe the court is trying to bring down Gilani and Zardari before February 2013, when the administration would become the first in Pakistan to complete a full five-year term.

The president, deeply unpopular among ordinary Pakistanis and nicknamed Mr 10 Per cent for alleged corruption, cancelled a visit to Russia to convene emergency talks with legal experts and party bosses to resolve the crisis.

The Supreme Court verdict was followed in hours by an announcement from the election commission that Gilani had been dismissed as an MP.

Senior PPP members also appealed for calm, a sign that the party preferred to elect a new prime minister than contest the court ruling.

Analysts warned it would be impossible to get parliament to overturn the court’s decision without the support of the main opposition PML-N party.

This is a destabilising move. It is a kind of judicial coup. First the military used to carry out coups and now it’s the judiciary which has overthrown a prime minister,” said political analyst Hasan Askari.

Read more » DAWN.COM

More of a political vendetta than a legal crusade – Los Angeles Times

Pakistan highest court ousts Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani

The ruling stems from a conviction involving a graft case against Pakistan’s president. It sets up a clash between President Asif Ali Zardari and the judiciary.

By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

ISLAMABAD, PakistanThe Pakistani Supreme Court ousted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday, leaving an important U.S. ally without a chief executive and setting up a showdown between the country’s president and judiciary that could lead to political chaos.

The ruling, triggered by Gilani’s contempt conviction in April for failing to revive an old corruption case against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, potentially sets up a constitutional clash between the judiciary and parliament, which is controlled by Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, and a fragile coalition of allied parties.

For now, Zardari’s party appeared to accept that Gilani and his Cabinet are no longer in government.

“Technically, after this Supreme Court decision, Gilani is no longer prime minister,” Qamar Zaman Kaira, a top party leader who up until Tuesday was information minister, said at a news conference. “And if the prime minister isn’t there, then the Cabinet is no longer there.”

Though Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is revered in Pakistan as a bulwark against corruption, many experts believe his pursuit of the graft case against Zardari may be more of a political vendetta than a legal crusade. ……

Read more »Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-gilani-20120620,0,2429553.story

One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

Whenever some of our preconceived myths are shattered by a stark, unyielding and yet truthful reality, we tend to revert to denial and a refusal to face up to the facts as they are

The Supreme Court’s short order in the Arsalan Iftikhar case absolving the Honourable Chief Justice (CJ) without any investigation or examination of any evidence in the underlying imbroglio is premature. It is in fact contradicted by the Supreme Court’s own statement in this order: “…the Supreme Court (SC)…cannot judge the guilt or innocence of the parties without evidence or trial…” So how is this ruling not applicable to the CJ, who is so intertwined in this scandal being the father of one of the main suspects, and whose judicial power is at the heart of this corruption scandal?

This is in way to imply that the CJ is guilty but there cannot be an exemption from inquiry and investigation along with other participants and witnesses, for possible criminal violations based just on mere words of one of the parties. Who is Malik Riaz to give a clean bill of health to the CJ? It is strange that the SC is relying on the good word of Malik Riaz whom the former considers to be an accused fit to be prosecuted for some serious criminal offences under Pakistan’s criminal laws.

To contend that the media is maligning the judiciary by highlighting this scandal is to blame the messenger and not the message. Let us not be sidetracked, for now at least, by corruption in the media, which no doubt prevails, but which is less important than the imperative of our judiciary to have an unassailable reputation and an image above reproach. Conducting a thorough probe or inquiry of all those allegedly involved, including the Honourable CJ, will clear rather than tarnish the judiciary’s reputation and remove the dark clouds hanging over our most esteemed institution.

The nation has a right to know answers to such vital questions as how long the CJ knew about his son’s involvement with Malik Riaz and how many meetings the CJ had with Malik Riaz before the matter was seized through a suo motu action. The only other acceptable alternative to such an inquiry would be for the CJ to quit honourably in the larger interests of the judiciary and the country.

Continue reading One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

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

Democracy under threat

By: Asma Jahangir

THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

Continue reading Democracy under threat

Pakistan Supreme Court disqualifies prime minister

By Qasim Nauman

ISLAMABAD: (Reuters) – Pakistan’s increasingly assertive Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ineligible for office, plunging the country into fresh political turmoil during a crisis in relations with the United States.

In April, it found Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president.

“Since no appeal was filed (against the April 26 conviction) … therefore Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani stands disqualified as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament)…,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in a packed courtroom.

“He has also ceased to be the prime minister of Pakistan … the office of the prime minister stands vacant.”

But Fawad Chaudhry, a senior Gilani aide, said only parliament could dismiss the prime minister.

While the decision is a big blow to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), it is unlikely to lead to the fall of the unpopular government. ….

Read more » Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/19/us-pakistan-gilani-idUSBRE85I0KS20120619?feedType=RSS&feedName=pakistan&virtualBrandChannel=10165&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=59231

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s contempt conviction may worsen ties to U.S.

By: Farhan Bokhari

(CBS News) ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s pro-U.S. ruling coalition was thrown in turmoil Thursday after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was convicted on a contempt-of-court charge by the country’s Supreme Court.

Gilani was given a symbolic jail term lasting for less than a minute, but the verdict made it possible for him to lose his job as prime minister, according to analysts and legal experts.

“For reasons to be recorded later, the prime minister is found guilty of contempt for willfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court,” said Supreme Court Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk in announcing the verdict. The judge ordered Gilani to serve time “till rising of the court” – a term which means for the duration of the brief court hearing.

Western diplomats however warned that depending on the direction of future political events, fresh turmoil in Pakistan could further strain the country’s already troubled relations with the United States.

“As Pakistan’s political temperature rises, there are new dangers for Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.,” a senior western diplomat in Islamabad told CBS News after Thursday’s verdict on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to journalists. “As turmoil grows in Pakistan, it will be increasingly difficult for the government to be seen becoming more friendly towards the U.S.”

Continue reading Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s contempt conviction may worsen ties to U.S.

Indians & many in Pakistan also want President Zardari to act firmly against jihadis.

WELCOME MR PRESIDENT

By Vikram Sood

Benazir Bhutto made five pilgrimages to the Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the last being in 2005. She wanted to visit one more time in 2007 but this did not materialise. Instead, she went home to Pakistan to a tumultuous welcome but ultimately to become yet another Bhutto martyr. Her friends had cautioned her that her return to Pakistan could be dangerous for her but Benazir insisted that the country needed her. Quite apparently, there were powerful figures in her country who did not want her alive. So she became the fourth Bhutto to die a violent unnatural death.

Continue reading Indians & many in Pakistan also want President Zardari to act firmly against jihadis.

Bahrain Puts Pakistan on Front Burner: Pakistan Army Contingent Secretly Moved To Bahrain

Bahrain Puts Pakistan on Front Burner: II; Pakistan Army Contingent Secretly Moved To Bahrain to ‘Restore Peace’ & Protect Bahraini, Saudi & US interests

By Aijaz Ahmed

Although Pakistan has agreed to provide complete support for peace and security of Bahrain where political turmoil continues unabated, the decision might make it pay heavy price in terms of its good neighborly relations with Iran.

Pakistan has stood and will stand with Saudi Arabia

Read more : Indus Herald

Zardari in WikiLeaks – Nawaz Sharif is worst than Asfandyar Wali Khan for the GHQ?

Nuclear Fuel Memos Expose Wary Dance With Pakistan

This article is by Jane Perlez, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt.

….. “Kayani will want to hear that the United States has turned the page on past ISI operations,” it said. General Kayani was probably referring to the peace accords with the Taliban from 2004 to 2007 that resulted in the strengthening of the militants.

If the general seems confidently in charge, the cables portray Mr. Zardari as a man not fully aware of his weakness.

At one point he said he would not object if Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered in Pakistan as the father of its nuclear weapons program, were interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency but tacitly acknowledged that he was powerless to make that happen.

Mr. Zardari, who spent 11 years in prison on ultimately unproved corruption charges, feared for his position and possibly — the wording is ambiguous — his life: the cables reveal that Vice President Biden told Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain in March 2009 that Mr. Zardari had told him that the “ISI director and Kayani will take me out.”

His suspicions were not groundless. In March 2009, a period of political turmoil, General Kayani told the ambassador that he “might, however reluctantly,” pressure Mr. Zardari to resign and, the cable added, presumably leave Pakistan. He mentioned the leader of a third political party, Asfandyar Wali Khan, as a possible replacement.

“Kayani made it clear regardless how much he disliked Zardari he distrusted Nawaz even more,” the ambassador wrote, a reference to Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister.

By 2010, after many sessions with Mr. Zardari, Ms. Patterson had revised the guarded optimism that characterized her early cables about Mr. Zardari.

“Pakistan’s civilian government remains weak, ineffectual and corrupt,” she wrote on Feb. 22, 2010, the eve of a visit by the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III. “Domestic politics is dominated by uncertainty about the fate of President Zardari.”

That assessment holds more than eight months later, even as Mr. Obama in October extended an invitation to the Mr. Zardari leader to visit the White House next year, as the leader of a nation that holds a key to peace in Afghanistan but appears too divided and mistrustful to turn it for the Americans.

To read full article : The New York Times

Turmoil in Panjgur, Balochistan

Editorial: Turmoil in Panjgur

The political and security situation in Panjgur, a district located on the Iranian border, has turned very hostile and tense after the Frontier Corps (FC) shot dead Hussain Baloch, a young political activist belonging to Katagri area. Hussain was among hundreds of male and female protestors who demonstrated against the recent arrest of three Baloch leaders Dr. Abid Shah, Safeer Baloch and Abdul Sattar Paromi. …

Read more >> TheBalochhal

Pakistan in turmoil as court bans ex-PM

Sharif’s backers protest in streets after ruling bars him from office

by Laura King, Los Angeles Times

Islamabad- Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif may well be the most popular politician in Pakistan. So the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday that bans him from holding elected office has set the stage for what could be a bitter show-down between his backers and the already shaky government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Pakistan, which over the past 18 months has seen a grassroot uprising against long-time military leader [Dictator] Pervez Musharraf, the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and then the advent of civilian rule, appears ill-prepared for another prolonged period of political. turmoil. Islamic insurgents are gaining strength, and the economy is virtually on life support from international leaders.

Analysts characterized yesterday’s court ruling as a drawing of battle lines between Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples party and its one time ally, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim league- N. Two parties teamed in Feb 2008 to take on Musharraf, soundly defeating his party in parliamentary elections and ousting him from office six months latter. But having gained power, they fell out with on another.

Sharif’s supporters protested yesterday’s verdict, saying they do not recognize the legitimacy of the court. They repeated demands for the reinstatement of the former chief justice and other senior judges dismissed by Musharraf in late 2007 during a bout of de facto martial law.

“This is mockery of justice, mockery of democracy,” Ahsan Iqbal, senior leader of Sharif’s party, said of the ruling. “The decision has once again pushed Pakistan on the path of political confrontation and political instability.”

The former prime minister’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, was also disqualified by the court from holding office, in effect removing him from his position as chief minister of Punjab, the country’s most populous and affluent province.

Supporters of the Shairf pouredinto the streets of major cities, burning tires and chanting anti government slogans.

A firebrand populist, Sharif returned to Pakistan in late 2007 after nearly eight years in exile, foiling efforts by Musharraf to keep him away. Although Shairf’s party trailed the Pakistan People’s Party in the February 2008 vote, some commentators attributed that to sympathy over the assassination six weeks earlier of Bhutto, Zardari’s wife. Most public opinion polls suggested Sharif’s popularty has now eclipsed Zardari’s.

—-

Our source of above article Thursday, Feb 26, 2009, Toronto Star, page A13.