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Pakistan: a culture of intolerance: By Sajjad Ashraf in Asia Times Online

The writer, a former Pak diplomat, is an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,   Singapore.

Pakistan’s impoverished and peaceful Christian community has endured mob rampages, blasphemy charges, and was largely spared the ravages of suicide bombings, till last month. Suicide bombings on September 22 at Peshawar’s All-Saints Church, which is designed like a mosque to reflect inter-faith harmony, killed 83 worshippers and injured more than 125, bringing to focus how the danger minorities face in the militancy raging across Pakistan. With almost a bomb a day since Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government took over in June, the church was indeed a soft target.

Since independence in 1947 minority numbers have fallen from about a quarter of Pakistan population to 3.7%. Most Hindus and Sikhs moved to India following ethnic riots at the time of partition. Many still do. The separation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, where Hindus form....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Doing things by halves: by Malik Muhammad Ashraf in the Nation, Oct 16

The writer is a freelance columnist.

Had the military adventurers heeded Quaid’s words about democracy and allegiance to the constitution quoted by General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani while addressing the 128th passing out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy, the country would not have been where it stands now.

Casting a glance on the past mistakes, he urged the military leadership to support and strengthen democracy in the country and also impliedly advised them to owe allegiance to the elected leadership and follow their decisions. His backing of the proposed dialogue with the Taliban has removed apprehensions in certain quarters regarding any rift between the civil and military leadership will regards to dealing with the menace of terrorism in the country. Brushing aside the notion that recourse to dialogue with TTP was a sequel to failure of the military operation, by quoting successes of military operation in Swat and other tribal areas, he made it abundantly clear t....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

The state of our confusion : op-ed by Harris Khalique in The News, Oct 16

The writer is a poet and author based in Islamabad.

The state of our confusionStates are as viable or unviable as their institutions hold them to be, regarded as artificial or as natural as their citizens view them to, and as successful or unsuccessful as their public servants and entrepreneurs make them. Pakistan, in its present form and shape, is viable if our civilian and military leadership sets its domestic and international priorities right. It will be seen as a natural country if it functions for all and services its citizens without prejudice. It will be successful if it offers well-being, decent living, law and order and social stability.

Things are never in black and white. No nation-state is natural, for that matter. If Bengalis, Keralites, Haryanvis, Tamils and Maharashtrians can all be Indians, then Punjabis, Baloch, Pakhtuns, Seraikis and Sindhis are far less different from each other in ethnic, linguistic and cultural terms. Every state is a project in huma....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Need to rethink policing: by TARIQ KHOSA in Dawn, Oct 16

The writer is a retired police officer.

THE public is beginning to realise that the police force cannot deliver what it promises.

In Police for the Future, David Bayley asserts that dependence on law enforcement for crime-control exposes the police, as well as the criminal justice system, to being scapegoated. Inflated expectations lead to the loss of trust and credibility. Crime cannot be prevented exclusively through law enforcement; the police force constitutes a band-aid on cancer.

What should societies do to prevent crime? What should the police do? We cannot rely solely upon the police force to save society from crime. No single institution can do that. At the same time, we must charge the police with taking the lead in exploring what must be done. In institutional terms, that is the essence of policing.

Can this be done? I think so. Established in 1861 on the Irish Constabulary model, the police force in Pakistan has been a coercive instrument of the ....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Opposition leader: PTI mulls coup against PPP’s Khursheed Shah

By Zahid Gishkori  in The Express Tribune, Oct 16

ISLAMABAD:  Whether they like it or not, the destiny of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) seems perpetually linked to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Sindh’s leading urban party spent the last five years being the difference between the PPP-led government and a lost majority. And now, the PPP would need MQM’s support once again – this time to hold on to the office of the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly in the face of a new contender: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Imran Khan’s party may have fallen well short of forming the government, finishing third in terms of seats, but the party now has its sights set on spearheading the opposition – a position currently held by the second largest party in the National Assembly, PPP.

Chairman Imran Khan is vying for the office of Leader of the Opposition, according to PTI sources – a desire that has apparently gained momentum after the PPP....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

PML-N internal discord keeping NA committees dormant

By Tanveer Ahmed in daily times, Oct 16

ISLAMABAD: The internal strife in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has blocked functioning of the standing committees of the National Assembly, despite the passage of over four months since the new House was sworn in.

The standing committees of the House were constituted around one and half months back. However, the simple formality of electing their chairman has not been completed so far despite the presentation of the names by the opposition parties. According to parliamentary sources, the lists of the government members of the House were finalised some time back by State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed.

However, some powerful ministers in the cabinet want their blue-eyed candidates to head some important committees and remove some of the names proposed by Sheikh Aftab Ahmed. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had particularly intervened when he proposed names of his own people to....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Aitzaz likely to replace Khosa as PPP general secy

By Kashif Hussain in Daily Times, Oct 16

LAHORE: The veteran Pakistan People’s Party leader, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, is likely to take charge of PPP secretary general in a couple of months, replacing the incumbent Sardar Latif Khoosa.

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, a seasoned democrat and famous lawyer with an appreciative political candidature have been deemed as the most suitable candidate for the office. An aide to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (late) as well as a proactive leader of Judges Restoration Movement, Aitzaz held the fertility to be the secretary general of PPP.

Sources told Daily Times that party’s high command has decided in principle to replace incumbent Sardar Latif Khosa with Aitzaz as the former had failed to reactivate the party and reunite the angry leaders and workers and ‘Jiyalas’ of the party. The party is expecting Aitzaz to heal the damage incurred especially during general elections on May 11 by reuniting the disgruntled groups in P....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Zardari to formally launch political activities tomorrow

by AMIR WASIM  in Dawn, Oct 16

ISLAMABAD: Five weeks after completion of his five-year term in the Presidency, Asif Ali Zardari is formally starting his political activities from Larkana with a meeting of the PPP leaders belonging to Sindh on Thursday (tomorrow), Dawn has learnt.

When contacted, spokesman for the former president Farhatullah Khan Babar confirmed that Mr Zardari had invited the office-bearers of the party’s chapters from various divisions in Sindh at a dinner in Larkana on Thursday evening.

Mr Babar said that Mr Zardari had invited the party members from Sindh only as it would have been difficult for the leaders from other provinces to reach Larkana on the second day of Eidul Azha.

He disclosed that Mr Zardari planned to either stay in Karachi or Lahore for a longer period after Eid to carry on his political activities.

Interestingly, Mr Zardari does not hold any elected office of the party at the moment as he had to quit his role a....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Despite its shrewdness, JUI-F is left high and dry ; by Tariq Butt in The News, Oct 16

ISLAMABAD: Despite his shrewd politics Jamiat Ulemae Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is prominent as the ruling coalition in Balochistan cleverly missed out his party when it expanded the cabinet with a considerable delay.

However, a smart politician like Mehmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) is having the best of time, first ever in his long political career with impressive democratic credentials.

His elder brother, Mohammad Khan Achakzai, is the governor Balochistan. His younger brother, Dr Hamid Khan Achakzai, has now been inducted in the provincial cabinet. He himself is the member of the National Assembly.

After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to assign the gubernatorial position to Mohammad Khan Achakzai a few months back, an exceedingly thrilled Mehmood Khan Achakzai declared that Balochistan would remain with Pakistan till the Day of Judgment.

Although Fazlur Rehman supports the federal ruling coalition, he....... Read more

October 16, 2013   No Comments

Understanding the world through our (new) textbooks

By Madiha Afzal in The Express Tribune, Oct 3

The writer is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“Pakistan is playing a very effective role against terrorism and extremism in the world.” This is one of “Pakistan’s contributions towards peace-keeping in the world”, a direct quote from the new Punjab Class 10 Pakistan Studies textbook, in a chapter on Pakistan in world affairs. This statement would be greeted with incredulity in the rest of the world. It is just one example of a distorted sense of the world, and of our place in the world, that is conveyed in our textbooks.

Overall, the two Pakistan Studies textbooks for Classes 9 and 10 for 2013-14, which follow the new curriculum, present a marked improvement over the corresponding one for Sindh (which I reviewed in my op-ed on September 1). Each chapter has much more substance, detailing actual historical events rath....... Read more

October 3, 2013   No Comments