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Insecure democracy: by By Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi,Express Tribune, Jan 26th, 2015.

The writer is an independent political and defence analyst.
A large section of the politically aware and active populace of Pakistan expresses disappointment at the performance of the elected government, especially when it comes to the delivery of basic services to people. Such discontent was expressed during the PPP rule (2008-2013) but it seemed to have deepened during the PML-N rule. The non-availability of petrol on top of electricity and gas shortages has increased frustration and anger at the societal level. If these trends are not reversed, the long-term sustainability of democracy will be jeopardised in Pakistan.
This alienation is in sharp contrast to the pro-democracy disposition of the politically aware and active population in 2007-08. By 2007, the civilianised military regime of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf had run aground in terms of governance and political management. General (retd) Musharraf’s political blunders, like the attempt to remove the Chief Ju....... Read more

January 26, 2015   No Comments

Pushing hate to the margins: Editorial in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2015.

The two lead stories, one on page nine and the other on page 13 in the Friday edition (January 23, 2015) of this newspaper, uncovered a spine-chilling, ugly truth about hate literature, its clandestine and not-so-clandestine sources and its extensive outreach with telling effect. Since no official monitoring mechanism is known to have been put in place ever to do content analysis of such literature, one suspects that the actual list of publications spreading hate is much longer than has been reported and their sources more widespread. Most of these publications are being produced by sectarian groups, seminaries, militant organisations and banned outfits. There are said to be as many as 82 sectarian groups, with 22 being violent and five having working relationships with militant outfits.

However, the main sources identified as responsible for the publication of such literature are the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Sipah-e-Sahaba and Imamia Student Organisation. Ac....... Read more

January 26, 2015   No Comments

Irregularities In NA-122: edit in the Nation, Jan 25, 2016

The Inspection judge of a local commission, Ghulam Hussain Awan, appointed by an Election Tribunal (ET), has submitted his report to ET Judge Kazim Ali Malik regarding the irregularities found in NA-122 polling stations. National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq defeated PTI Chairman Imran Khan in NA-122 during the 2013 general election, and it is one of the four constituencies shortlisted by the PTI for investigation to serve as a sample to determine whether rigging took place in the elections. The local commission claims to have discovered 519 discrepancies from both sides: the record of PTI Chairman Iman Khan shows that 275 counterfoils of his votes are without thumb impressions whereas 232 counterfoils found in the record of Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq do not carry thumb impressions. Furthermore, the commission found 23,639 unsigned and 3,642 invalid ballot papers.
Although the ET is yet to complete its work and give a final verdict, both parties – the PML-N and the PTI – are cl....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

The polio front: edit in the News, January 25, 2015

Pakistan’s bloody war against polio continues along the same patterns seen last year, with terrorists unleashing fury on health workers attempting to deliver polio drops to children and on those deployed to protect them. On Monday last week in Karachi, a city that has seen attacks on polio workers before, a policeman was shot as he accompanied an anti-polio team into the Orangi area of the Sindh capital, where a four-day localised drive was planned. The constable was shot by two motorcyclists who drove past the vaccinating team. The campaign in Sindh was resumed Thursday after a three-day gap. The attack that caused this disruption mimics those seen in 2014, when at least 65 health workers were killed in different parts of the country by terrorists in an attempt to prevent the vaccine reaching children.
The fact that 297 cases of polio were recorded in the country that year, nearing it’s own record of 299 in 1998, is of course directly linked to these attacks. They are intend....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

Punjab comes first?: edit in Daily Times, January 25, 2015

A review of the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism by the Prime Minister’s Office has claimed that the province of Punjab is ahead of the rest of the country in taking anti-terror steps such as cracking down on militants and initiating the debate on how the media should ethically cover banned organisations and terror groups. If correct, this is a development that must be appreciated, but this is hardly the right time or the right situation to dole out congratulations. First of all, the release of this report will rekindle the suspicion people have had all along: the PML-N federal government is just too Punjab-centric. It remains under the stewardship of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, a province that is the home base of the incumbent PML-N government. It has often been reported that Punjab houses a large percentage of terrorists, particularly in the south of the province, giving them safe havens from which to ....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

Stop the blame game on petrol: Editorial in The Express Tribune, Jan 25, 2015.

Earlier this week, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi went on national television and admitted that he was responsible for the recent petrol crisis. We would welcome the Nawaz Administration for having at least one cabinet member own up to his mistakes, were it not for the blame game being played out between three ministries and their respective staff. It is becoming increasingly clear that the finance ministry, the petroleum ministry and the water and power ministry do not get along very well. Unto itself, that is not a problem. Intra-cabinet rivalry is common and can even be a healthy force spurring ministers to perform at their best. Bureaucratic turf wars are also par for the course. But when they begin to affect the government’s ability to respond to a severe crisis that has brought the nation’s largest province to a grinding halt, they stop being fun and start becoming petty.
It all started on January 18 when Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan admitted that ....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

Ghost Teachers: edit in the Nation, Jan 25, 2016

Education has always been low in the pecking order of Pakistani politics. Like an invalid on a wheelchair, education reform is rolled out periodically, shown to people, and then rolled back into the depths of its hiding place. Successive governments have failed so spectacularly that Pakistan is in a dire educational crisis at the moment. Pakistan has almost 5.5 million children in the 5-9 age bracket who are not in school, the second highest number in the world. The country also had the third highest number of illiterate adults in the world. Furthermore, it scores low on enrolment, dropout rates, academic performance and literacy indices. Unsurprisingly, very little is to be expected from the government’s decision to launch an “education emergency”, apart from the fact that at least the correct vernacular is being used for the situation’s gravity.
The government plans to hold an enrolment drive and increase the education budget to 4% of the GDP, but recent reports show th....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

Commission confirms irregularities in NA-122 record

LAHORE – After completion of cross-examination on the commission’s report in NA-122, the election tribunal on Saturday asked the counsel for National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to produce eyewitnesses and supporting evidences against the alleged rigging in the constituency on next hearing.
As the proceedings commenced, Ghulam Hussain Awan, who heads the commission, recorded his statement before the tribunal, confirming that he found many irregularities in the record of NA-122. Awan told the judge that the polling staff did not perform their job efficiently and committed many irregularities.
He further stated he found many polling bags with broken seals and ballot papers of different colours during the inspection. Awan said now the decision was up to the election tribunal.
The single-judge election tribunal, comprising Kazim Ali Malik, was hearing the case of the alleged rigging in NA-122 on a petition filed by PTI Chief Imran Khan, challenging victory ....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

Sharif not ready to pay for someone else’s misdeeds : by INAMULLAH KHATTAK in the Nation, Jan 25, 2016

ISLAMABAD – One of the main reasons behind the refusal of the government to form judicial commission (JC) on the terms proposed by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) for probing rigging allegations is that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not want to be punished for the wrong committed by polling staff.
Highly-placed sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) confided to The Nation that PTI wanted to send the whole system packing by demanding ‘peculiar’ terms of references (ToRs) in the proposed formation of the judicial commission for probing rigging allegations in 2013 general elections.
While the government side during the hectic negotiations with the PTI over ToRs of the judicial commission agreed that by-election would be held on constituencies where any irregularity is found by the commission, the PTI wanted to wrap the whole National Assembly in case the commission finds rigging in 148 constituencies.
Asad Umar, who was one of the key members of ....... Read more

January 25, 2015   No Comments

Maulana Aziz delivers another Friday sermon over the phone: by Ikram Junaidi in Dawn, January 24th, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Haunted out of the Lal Masjid by civil society’s legal action, Maulana Abdul Aziz reappeared there on Friday – but in virtual form.

Maulana sahib delivered his sermon to the Friday congregation by telephone. That delighted his supporters in the congregation but alerted his detractors.

“How can a person who has warrant of arrest against him use the microphone of the Lal Masjid which is run by the government,” asked Jibran Nasir, the moving spirit behind the civil society campaign against the Maulana.

“We are considering filing a petition in the Islamabad High Court to stop him from using the microphone of the mosque,” Nasir told Dawn.

“It seems the police are not willing to arrest Maulana Aziz.”

Indeed, his telephoned Friday sermon strengthened the rumours, circulating since he disappeared from the mosque over a week ago, that the administration has confined him to his house. Civil society activist Shan Taseer said that t....... Read more

January 24, 2015   No Comments