Tag Archives: worrying

Alarm bells in the U.S.

Alarms are ringing as negative trends come together in a perfect storm. Is the United States sleepwalking into economic and geopolitical decline?

By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large

WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) — Gen. David Richards, the British chief of staff, in the understatement of the week, says the strategic landscape is “worrying” and the outlook “bleak.”

The United States as the world’s strongest geopolitical player has become ungovernable, saddled with a dysfunctional Congress. House and Senate together, with 535 members, maintain 250 committees and subcommittees and micromanage muscular government decisions into unworkable policy directives.

No fewer than 108 committees have oversight jurisdiction on Homeland Security.

The latest book of Edward Luce, the Financial Times’ chief U.S. commentator, and former FT Washington bureau chief (2006-11), is titled, “Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent.”

America, he says, is sleepwalking into economic and geopolitical decline.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/de-Borchgrave/2012/05/29/Commentary-Alarm-bells-in-the-US/UPI-42381338299783/#ixzz1wIdSUlVl

The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

A question of accountability

By Raza Rumi

The inevitable has happened. An assertive judiciary has convicted the prime minister even if the punishment was token — awarded for non-compliance of court orders. The prime minister’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, has objected to the judgment saying that the punishment awarded was beyond the scope of his original indictment. There are multiple legal questions surrounding this decision and only the full judgment will clarify matters. However, it is the political ramifications of judicial assertion, which are of import in today’s Pakistan.

The PPP’s victim card — of being wronged by the establishment and the courts — is not entirely unfounded. Yet, this Supreme Court is not the court of the past. The lawyers’ movement (2007-9) allowed for an unprecedented populist backing to the courts and now many vested interests and groups deem the courts a natural ally in their own quest for independence, leverage and profits.

Public officials must be held accountable for their transgressions. This is vital for effective governance as well as for building legitimacy of democratic institutions. In purely technical terms, the Court’s decision is a welcome one. No longer can the executive be allowed to trample on judicial orders. After all, a letter to the Swiss authorities seeking the reopening of a case against President Asif Ali Zardari may have averted the crisis. Presidential immunity in the international and domestic laws is a given. However, in hindsight, this was a great opportunity for the PPP to underscore the fact that it is always the victim of selective accountability.

The cases against President Zardari and twice-elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were registered by their political opponents, i.e., military-backed arbitrary presidents; and the main opposition party, which till 1999 was on the right side of the establishment. This context cannot be divorced from the legal aspects of the case. That said, at the end of the day the courts decide on issues of law and fact. The truth is that the Pakistani state has used cases against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades. This is why the perception within the PPP support base especially in Sindh (and now southern Punjab) is that the court’s verdict is not a ‘fair’ one given that other political parties and state institutions have gotten away with far worse.

As for the Supreme Court, it has done its job according to its interpretation of the Constitution and law. That, however, will not prevent the PPP from using the conviction to ramp up its support, especially with the next election around the corner.

Moving on, the role of some TV channels and anchors in acting as lawyers, judges and prosecutors has been most worrying. Legal issues require informed debate and political commentary requires objectivity. Both were missing before and after the Supreme Court verdict. This brings us to the vital issue of accountability of the new players in the power game.

The higher courts are accountable via the Supreme Judicial Council. The latter’s record has not been encouraging, as far as holding members of the superior judiciary accountable is concerned. Similarly, the media — or large segments of it — acts as if it is not accountable to any authority.

Continue reading The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

Pakistan: bombs, spies and wild parties

By Declan Walsh

Even before you reach Pakistan there’s reason to fret. “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing shortly, inshallah,” says the Pakistan International Airlines pilot, 10 minutes outside Islamabad. To the western ear this ancient invocation – literally “God willing” – can be disconcerting: you pray the crew are relying on more than divine providence to set down safety. But these days it’s about right – Pakistan, a country buffeted by mysterious if not entirely holy forces, seems to have surrendered to its fate.

Viewed from the outside, Pakistan looms as the Fukushima of fundamentalism: a volatile, treacherous place filled with frothing Islamists and double-dealing generals, leaking plutonium-grade terrorist trouble. Forget the “world’s most dangerous country” moniker, by now old hat. Look to recent coverage: “Hornet’s Nest” declares this week’s Economist; “The Ally from Hell” proclaims the Atlantic.

Continue reading Pakistan: bombs, spies and wild parties

Criticized at home, Pakistan army defends its lack of air response during deadly NATO attack

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Confusion and a communication breakdown prevented Pakistan’s airforce from scrambling to defend troops on the ground during the deadly NATO bombing last weekend of two border outposts, the military said Friday, responding to rare domestic criticism of the powerful institution.

The attack killed 24 Pakistani troops and pushed already strained ties between Washington and Islamabad over the future of Afghanistan close to rupture. Islamabad has closed its eastern border to NATO supplies traveling into landlocked Afghanistan and said it is reviewing its cooperation with Washington.

Thousands of Islamist extremists took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, some shouting they would join the army in a battle with the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. The chants were a worrying sign for the West, reflecting how the anger over the incident is uniting hard-liners and the military.

Others rallied against the country’s already weak government for its alliance with Washington.

The Pakistani military, which eats up most of the country’s budget and is accountable to no one, has said Saturday’s border attack was an “act of deliberate aggression” that went on for close two hours. It has also said that Pakistani commanders contacted and pleaded with coalition commanders to stop firing.

NATO and U.S. officials have disputed that account, which has triggered uncomfortable questions in this South Asian country over why Pakistan’s own fighter jets and helicopters stationed close to the border did not take off to defend the ground troops during the attack.

The military has said troops did fire back at the NATO choppers when they attacked.

A Pakistani military statement on Friday said the response could have been more “effective” if the airforce had been called in, but this was not possible because of a “breakdown of communication” and confusion at “various levels” within the organization. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Source – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/criticized-at-home-pakistan-army-defends-its-lack-of-air-response-during-deadly-nato-attack/2011/12/02/gIQAkQaYJO_story.html

via » Siasat.pk

When a Titanic sinks, the elite in their luxurious rooms also go down with the ship

A tale of two societies – Dr Haider Shah

Incidents of cruelty and inhumanity occur all over the world. What is worrying in our case is the lack of social interest in following up such stories and making sure that the perpetrators are brought to book and the victims receive justice …

Read more » Daily Times

While the Security Establishment is blowing up money on F-16s and tanks, here is the current status of Education in Pakistan

Pakistan plans to buy more F-16s

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is trying to purchase used F-16 fighter jets from the United States to enhance its air capabilities, diplomatic sources told.

“We will take as many as they are willing to give,” said a diplomatic source when asked how many of these aircraft Pakistan was seeking.

In 2006, the US Congress agreed to give Pakistan 28 F-16C/Ds under its EDA or excess defence articles initiative. Fourteen of these aircraft have already been delivered. …

Read more : DAWN

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While the Security Establishment is blowing up money on F-16s and tanks, here is the current status of Education in Pakistan – Click here