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Posts from — January 2013

State of the nation: op-ed by Ikram Sehgal in the NEWS, Jan 3

The mobs venting their anger on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on Dec 27, 2007, let loose an orgy of riot and mayhem. Many took to the business of violence not only for looting and pillaging to enrich themselves but to take out their frustrations on those perceived to be living a life better than theirs. Anarchy threatened to engulf the entire land. We were in a state of shock; the state was in dire peril.

Instead of only lamenting his wife’s death, Asif Ali Zardari peremptorily silenced the secessionist cries threatening to undercut the unity of the federation and took control of the PPP.

Superbly street smart in the political sense, Zardari ran rings around everyone, ultimately taking oath as the president of Pakistan. This was perhaps his finest moment but there was no way he could have done all this without the tacit understanding of the Pakistan Army.

As he settled into the trappings of his office, Zardari’s true self emerged, the restoration of the chief justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court (SC) made him into a wounded soul. Given the time and space, he countered, by sustained muckraking, the country’s two major institutions – the superior judiciary and the army.

Nothing tangible ties him to the proxies he used. He countered Pir Pagaro’s recent Hyderabad show that gathered Sindhi nationalist and various other dissident elements under one banner by unleashing his ultimate weapon, son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Bilawal’s maiden political speech at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh evoked flashes of Benazir at her best; it roused the PPP faithfuls. As much as many may love to hate Bilawal’s father, they truly loved his mother.

Heeding the warning signals set off by Imran Khan in October 2011, Mian Nawaz Sharif got down to grass roots politicking in earnest, winning back the ground (and some) PML-N had lost in Punjab because of political complacency. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Amir Muqam rejuvenated the party from virtual extinction.

Asif Zardari fouled up politically by putting Manzoor Wattoo to head the PPP in Punjab, following by a rather desperate move of attempting to restore the equilibrium in southern Punjab, and installing non-PPP Nawabzada Hassan Mehmood as governor!

The PML-N may likely emerge as the largest party in the land (but without absolute majority), mostly at the expense of the PPP, one can understand why Mian Nawaz Sharif wants an early election. He must however change his simplistic mind block about the men in uniform. Ousted by Musharraf, he carries a grudge against the whole army. The irony, a majority of the rank and file would prefer him to Zardari anytime, but they get turned off by his constant berating.

The massive turnout for Imran Khan and Maulana Tahirul Qadri’s in Oct 2011 and Dec 2012 respectively in Lahore underscored the craving in the mass national psyche for drastic change across the body politic of Pakistan, but what change? To replace one face with another or to bring in genuine reform?

The Qadri promise for a march on Islamabad to forcibly pressurise a democratically elected regime may be “unconstitutional”; but has the present democratic regime ruled the country according to the constitution? How long before the common citizen emulates the attorney general’s atrocious behaviour in court, symbolising the utter contempt of the government towards the SC and the rule of law.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Fakhruddin Ebrahim is already into doublespeak. He came out strongly for delimitation in Karachi as per the SC ruling, only to reverse his opinion two weeks later. Aside from anomalies in the electoral rolls and the requirement of delimitation across the country, what about the economic and political uncertainties? Can the CEC guarantee controlling the forces that would be unleashed in a national political campaign?

Democratic dispensations require the electoral process, with anarchy as a consequence in today’s circumstances? A watershed in the history of united Pakistan, the Nov 13, 1970 cyclone took almost three million lives in the coastal belt, exacerbating the feelings of discrimination among the East Pakistanis. Still going the Awami League’s way, the vote would not have been so overwhelmingly lopsided. Once the elections took place in such adverse circumstances, the federation was as good as gone.

For the first three years of his military rule, professionally competent Musharraf certainly ran an excellent civil administration; the cruel paradox is that in the exercise of his military functions, he failed to deliver, primarily by not keeping to the merit system of promotion. In contrast Kayani concentrated on the welfare of the soldiers and revived the merit system.

With almost all the present senior military leadership today seeing active combat in counter-insurgency in Swat and Fata, the army has radically changed, far different from what the COAS inherited in 2007 – and Kayani deserves credit for it. In contrast to Musharraf, however, Kayani needs to exercise more control over his siblings.

The best joke of 2012 is the finance minister being tasked to extol the Pakistani masses about the great “economic successes” achieved by the PPP government. The proposed “tax amnesty scheme” to legalise black money symbolises the inherent criminality in our system, need one mention the reason why? The PM could chip in with his many ‘successes’ as federal minister of water and power, making electricity into an ‘endangered species’. The minister for petroleum could tell us why stopping gas to fertilizer factories required importing urea fertilizer with precious foreign exchange, forcing increase in fertilizer prices for the farmer, and subsequently the price of wheat. The roti in PPP’s slogan roti, kapra aur makaan is costing the common man more, which means he should forget the dream of a makaan (house) of his own.

Can anyone outdo our interior minister Rehman Malik expounding upon his ‘great’ successes in ‘controlling’ the law-and-order situation? Maybe one day in the week can be set aside for him to tell the truth.

Tempered by internecine internal conflict, the army is convinced about the necessity of democratic dispensation and constitutional rule that does not give licence to run riot and give the most corrupt critical appointments.

A rot destroying the credibility of each and every institution in the country has set in. Does the letter of the constitution carry more weight than the spirit in which it was made and the morality that it embodies? Far more dangerous are the constant economic downslide and the energy shortages affecting both the manufacturing and services sectors. One can keep borrowing from banks and printing money, what happens when the money has no value?

While the army is not going to step in at the drop of a hat and certainly not without judicial direction, there is always a limit to patience, how much more will their patriotic responsibility be tested?

Incidentally, do we have the time to exercise more patience? http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-152205-State-of-the-nation

January 3, 2013   No Comments

The real challenge: by I.A Rehman in DAWN, Jan 3

THE most critical challenge Pakistan faces in 2013 is the test of the 65-year-old Pakistani nation’s capacity to ensure a credible general election and a normal transfer of authority to the parties/coalitions commanding majorities in the national and provincial legislatures.

That a transfer of power should take place this year is not in doubt; what needs to be guaranteed is that authority will be passed to those who win the polls. This because two possible developments that could thwart or disrupt the electoral process are being openly discussed among political observers and commentators.

The first scenario runs like this: the law and order situation continues to worsen and the people become more restless because of electricity/gas/water shortages and other economic difficulties and the caretaker prime minister petitions the Supreme Court to order the postponement of elections and sanction the creation of a Bangladeshi-type interim regime, and the court obliges him. Result: no election in 2013.

This theory has no legs to stand on. It is not impossible that the caretaker prime minister may come under pressure from powerful, anti-democratic forces, whose advice in favour of deferment of elections may not be based on a fair assessment of the situation on the ground. In fact they may not bother the interim head of government. There are quite a few glorified touts that have made public interest litigation a farce. One of them or any citizen could be persuaded to seek the judiciary’s intervention.

But the plot runs aground there.

Regardless of what the critics of the direction judicial activism has taken may say the judiciary is unlikely to fall into the anti-democratic forces’ trap. The superior courts may have now and then transcended their jurisdiction to take the institutions of state to task but they cannot deprive the people of their most fundamental right to choose their rulers. Whether they choose good rulers or bad ones is nobody’s business so long as elections are held in accordance with the law.

It is wrong to seek the judiciary’s intervention in a political matter that patently lies outside its jurisdiction. Besides, no court will be able in the foreseeable future to renege on the judiciary’s commitment to resist any extra-democratic dispensation, be it a military rule of Pakistani brand or the Bangladeshi model, both total failures.

The other scenario is that the militant organisations that have finally proclaimed their resolve to destroy Pakistan’s democratic experiment, and decimate all political elements committed to its continuance, will create a law and order crisis of so great a magnitude that elections will not be possible at all.

This threat cannot be taken lightly. An increase in violent attacks on state institutions, security personnel and individuals suspected of adherence to democracy, from the assassination of Bashir Bilour to the execution of 21 Levies near Peshawar, has already been recorded. Such incidents are likely to increase until election day and may continue even afterwards.

No effort to go ahead with the democratic agenda in these circumstances will bear fruit without a broad consensus on the need to hold elections this year. These elections are necessary to complete the task of realising Pakistan’s destiny as a modern democratic state. Each time this process has been disrupted the state and the people both have suffered grievous harm. Now Pakistan is much too weak to afford a relapse into authoritarianism.

A departure from the democratic system at the present moment in time will be a much bigger disaster than was the case earlier on because today a more conscious citizenry, a largely free media and an assertive judiciary promise democratic governance a much better environment for its sustenance and defence than it ever had.

Today it is possible to say that whichever party/coalition comes on top after the polls, it will not be able to do what it may like however corrupt it may be. If the system is undermined at this stage the state will be thrown back many decades and the process of democratisation will have to be started from scratch.

The weaknesses of democracy are known, not only in Pakistan or South Asia and the Muslim world, but also in countries where this system has taken root. But the alternative to even an imperfect democracy will be worse because neither military despotism nor a theocracy can meet the demands of the multi-national federation that Pakistan is and it can only survive as such.

This formulation must be endorsed by all the parties that are planning to take part in the coming elections. Any party that does not subscribe to democratic ideals has no moral right to demand seats in legislatures. A natural corollary is that the political parties excluded from the hit list announced by the militants should have the decency to declare their faith in democracy. If they remain silent over the killing of leaders and workers of parties targeted by militants or do no more than offer fateha for the deceased, they will invite indictment for hypocrisy.

The militants’ threat can be met if it is realised that while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is formally responsible for holding free and fair elections this task is also the responsibility of political parties and the people at large. Massive public participation in polling alone can deter the extremists from carrying out their nefarious designs.

The ECP also will do well to repose more trust in the people than in any state institution. One was not surprised by the army chief’s assurance of help in the election process; what did surprise many was the request the chief election commissioner made to him.

The army, like any other state institution, is not required to guarantee fair elections; it is only expected to avoid interfering in the electoral process. The army’s help can be sought for maintaining order, and that too from a distance. The presence of any troops/Rangers inside polling stations cannot be permitted as it will vitiate freedom of voting. As for security needs, the armed forces are always available to the civil authorities, including the ECP.

It is also necessary perhaps to moderate official and public expectations from the coming elections. The objective of a fair poll should be pursued with realistic assumptions. The days of an ideal election are still far away and one should aim no higher than a reasonably fair electoral contest because it is not possible to guarantee a level playing ground to candidates with modest resources. Likewise, those elected this time again are unlikely to match public expectations of competence and integrity, because the condition for that, namely a social revolution, is yet to be met.

Tailpiece: Seen in Karachi last week on a white-washed wall near the stadium was a several yards long declaration: “Hamein manzil nahin rahnuma chahiye (sirf) Altaf”. It could be read in two ways: i) We don’t care where we are going, we only need a pathfinder, says Altaf; ii) We do not need a destination/goal, we need a leader, only Altaf. So much for democracy!http://dawn.com/2013/01/03/the-real-challenge/

January 3, 2013   No Comments

Deweaponisation — our only option

By Naeem Sadiq in The Express Tribune, Jan 3

The writer is a health, safety and environment consultant

“Violence — and the threat of it — is a pre-political manner of communication and control, characteristic of undemocratic organisations and hierarchical relationships. For the ancient Athenians who practiced an incipient, albeit limited form of democracy, violence was characteristic of the master-slave relationship, not that of free citizens”. — Firmin DeBrabander, Professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College, Baltimore

While the polio vaccine may prevent future crippling disabilities, the more urgent problem for Pakistan is to manage its already deranged section of society. In a span of 24 hours, six female health workers were shot dead by second-century zealots armed with 21st-century weapons. A massive proliferation of firearms has reduced Pakistan to a society where the pressing of triggers has replaced logic and dialogue as the preferred mode of conflict-resolution. The government stands dysfunctional and helpless — its role limited to announcing compensations for the victims, almost like a sordid incentive for an untimely death.

Freedom and the right to life, liberty and speech are often the first victims in an armed society. Girls in Swat erased Malala’s name from their school walls, not because they respected her any less, but because they did not wish to be killed by the fanatics. Pakistan has chosen to be a violent society where private militias patronised by political parties, religious fanatics and criminal gangs actually call the shots. The control of towns and cities seems to be with the groups that own the most weapons.

The word ‘gun control’ is not part of our vocabulary. No one really knows how many licences were issued or to whom. Each time, the figures are different and there is a footnote of missing records. The Supreme Court in its suo-motu case 16/2011 concluded that the federal government had issued 46,114 licences of prohibited bore and 1,202,470 licences of non-prohibited bore during the past five years. Not to be left behind, the Sindh government admitted to having issued another 400,000 gun licences. The Sindh minister for food declared that his assets include an armoury of weapons costing Rs7.5 million and an expense of Rs2.5 million for the bullets consumed.

Weapons are also a key component of the class struggle in Pakistan. The rich and the powerful wish to have an exclusive ‘right to kill’. While Article 9 of the Constitution provides the right to life and liberty to every citizen, it is defeated by the hugely discretionary Arms Ordinance 1965. Using this law, the powerful and influential receive hundreds of licenses for prohibited and non-prohibited bore weapons. Their abhorrence for any form of arms control is thus well understood. This forces the lesser citizens to resort to unlicensed weapons, which are easily and freely available.

No peace is possible in Karachi or elsewhere if we continue to advance our reasoning through the barrel of a gun. While peaceful political solutions are pursued, it is inconceivable that peace can be sought without eliminating the primary tool that is used to manufacture violence. No citizen, regardless of his rank or status, rich or poor must be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon of any bore — licensed or otherwise. Providing security is the responsibility of the state and it must not be sublet to private armies.

The reforms for peace must begin by repealing the discriminatory and discretionary Arms Ordinance. No one should henceforth have the authority to issue any licence to anyone. The already issued licences for all kinds of weapons must be cancelled. A ‘Deweaponisation Commission’ should be established to create and implement a phase-wise deweaponisation strategy to take back all weapons from every citizen of Pakistan. Weapon smuggling, transporting and selling must be eradicated. The private weapon manufacturing factories can be regulated and placed under strict government controls. Their stocks can be purchased by the government and sold for export purposes only. A nationwide database of weapons must be created to record every weapon manufactured, stored, transported, sold, exported, etc to create traceability for every serial number.

Banning all guns is absolutely necessary but not sufficient. We need a fundamental transformation in the way we live our lives, teach tolerance in schools and our leaders should make less militant appearances. If we value freedom and wish to remain free citizens, we must be willing to chart this difficult course.


January 3, 2013   No Comments

What if Fakhru Bhai resigns, or the caretakers are forced out?

by Shaheen Sehbai in the NEWS, Jan 3

DUBAI: Although Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has denied that he was resigning, at least not as yet, PPP insider and former law minister Dr Babar Awan has raised this prospect in all seriousness, quoting confidential information that he had received from his sources. Dr Awan has claimed that the resignation had been written and could be presented at any time if Fakhru Bhai got angry, tired or felt helpless.

This raises a serious question, which needs an urgent and credible constitutional and legal explanation. What will happen if the CEC resigns, or his aging health is unable to take the stress and strain of a highly demanding job, in 11,000 volts situation with hounds, wolves and crocodiles hovering all around him?

The immediate remedy in the Constitution is appointment of a judge as acting CEC by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan but a permanent CEC would be needed to hold the elections any way.

At present when the government and the opposition is in place, the appointment of the CEC has to be done after consultations between these two sides. But once the parliament is dissolved, and a caretaker set up with no treasury or opposition present, who will appoint the CEC if he quits or is unable to perform his duties.

Likewise another key question is also being raised in some circles, after a direct threat by Dr Tahirul Qadri on Wednesday that he would also topple a caretaker government, which is put in place without the consultations and agreement of all stakeholders.

What he means is that if under any panic attack the present parliament is dissolved before its term expires on March 16 and the Government and Opposition put up their agreed person as caretaker PM, Dr Qadri will still continue with the Long March forcing even the caretaker PM to resign.

In that scenario who will appoint the next Caretaker and if a CEC is also not present, what does the Constitution suggest in such a scenario.

These two legal, but at the moment hypothetical questions, can become a real issue as both these possibilities have been mentioned in knowledgeable circles.

Fakhru Bhai is known to be a temperamental person who does not take any insult or undue criticism lightly. His role in the recent bye elections has been challenged and criticised by many losing political parties, including the PML-Q and he has also been put in place by Dr Tahirul Qadri who says the ECP has no constitutional mandate to bring any electoral reforms, as claimed by Fakhru Bhai.

On Wednesday Fakhru Bhai received another rebuke by the Defence Secretary at a top level meeting, the first serious gathering of all the key people who matter in holding the elections. Fakhru Bhai proposed that army jawans should be present in all polling stations but his proposal was instantly shot down and the Defence Secretary said army would be deployed only on sensitive polling stations. This would depress Fakhru Bhai’s enthusiasm to a dangerous level.

Likewise in another incident the ECP had to confront the NAB Chairman, Admiral Fasih Bokhari who took suo moto notice of the violation of the secrecy of the ballot paper in the no confidence vote against the Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly. NAB asked for a report from its Quetta chief and the ECP had to tell NAB that it was not its jurisdiction. But ECP itself did nothing.

The fate of a joint caretaker PM like Ishaq Dar of PML-N or Raza Rabbani of PPP, as being speculated by some sections of the media, has already been put in doubts by Dr Qadri who says no PM who is not a consensus candidate of all stakeholders will be accepted by him and the Long March or sit-in will continue.

With a paralysed Islamabad, the new CPM would find it hard to continue and may quit, or if forced to do so then what will happen and who will appoint a new caretaker chief executive?

In all these scenarios the role of the Supreme Court will attain absolute finality and the central position if the constitution is silent on any of these matters. Not even the president could dictate his choices unless the SC ratifies his decisions.

Legal experts are not clear and so is the Constitution. Veteran constitutionalist SM Zafar says the constitution is silent on the point as to who will play the role of Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition when National Assembly is not present.

“In my view, if CEC resigns in a situation when national assembly is not present, the Supreme Court would be asked to give advice as to what should be done as the constitution is silent,” Zafar said.

The SC may advise that the outgoing Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition may do so but in a situation when there is already a Long March against the choice of these two persons, this possibility is highly unlikely.

Apart from who will be the PM, another key issue that will, however, remain immensely relevant would be the agenda of the Caretakers? Will it be just the elections or would it include stopping the free fall of the economy, law and order and catching the thieves who may run after looting billions. This question will determine how long the caretakers will last.  http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19961-What-if-Fakhru-Bhai-resigns-or-the-caretakers-are-forced-out

January 3, 2013   No Comments

Person against whom action was ordered made PM: CJ

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Wednesday observed that the court verdict on Rental Power Projects (RPPs) was not being implemented, and the person against whom the action was ordered had been made the prime minister of the country.

A three-member apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, resumed hearing of the RPPs verdict implementation case.

The court reprimanded the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for not acting against the influential accused in the RPPs scandal.

During the hearing, the chief justice remarked that no action was being taken against the accused despite all the findings coming to the surface.

Justice Iftikhar said that facts against many ministers had surfaced but no one budged an inch, adding that the court had to issue a notice to NAB chairman for not implementing its orders. “It’s admitted that these persons are influential but let the system work,” he added.

The hearing was adjourned till January 21 due to the absence of Nepra’s lawyer.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19955-Person-against-whom-action-was-ordered-made-PM-CJ

January 3, 2013   No Comments

AT, PML-N to contest polls in Sindh with broader anti-PPP alliance

Hyderabad: The Awami Tahreek and PML-N on Wednesday reiterated to contest the general elections in Sindh with a broader anti-PPP alliance and said since the ruling PPP has done no appreciable development work during its five-year tenure, its leaders will receive poor response from the conscious voters.

In a joint press conference after their meeting at the Paleejo House, PML-N leader Liaquat Ali Jatoi and Awami Tahreek head Ayaz Latif Paleejo pointed out that leaders of both the parties discussed the possibilities of broader alliance and said all the political parties had already decided not to initiate talks with the PPP at any forum.

They expressed the hope that CEC would implement the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding verification of voters’ lists and delimitation of constituencies, especially in Karachi. They said it is must to remove the feelings of doubt among the politicians and make electoral process transparent.

Jatoi said the PPP had lost popularity and this definitely would benefit the nationalists and those were friends of Sindh. He said when Sindh was facing the worst law and order situation, kidnappings for ransom and anarchy, how it could be possible for PPP legislators to move to the people for votes.

People have been left at the mercy of criminals and corrupt bureaucrats and they are feeling unsafe even at their doorsteps, he said.

They expressed suspicion over the agenda of Tahirul Qadri with his long marches, saying he will not achieve success by working with any specific group.

Paleejo said Tahirul Qadri had sent an invitation to him but he clarified to them about his stand.

“We will not become a part of any such a move, which is still without clear agenda about the change in the entire system,” he said.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-152172-AT-PML-N-to-contest-polls-in-Sindh-with-broader-anti-PPP-alliance

January 3, 2013   No Comments

PML-N manifesto deferred again

LAHORE – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has once again deferred announcement of the Party manifesto for the next elections.

Highly reliable sources in the party say that the manifesto has been formally approved by PML-N leadership, whose announcement has been delayed for 10/15 days for the reason of delay in its printing as the finishing touches, correction and certain petty changes took time.

They say the manifesto will now be unveiled in between 15 to 20 January in Islamabad.

The PML-N manifesto was previously due on December 30th when the party celebrated its 107th Foundation Day but it was delayed to January 5 for certain reasons. Now the actual date of announcement of the manifesto will be decided in due course.

A Central committee headed by Sartaj Aziz, has prepared the manifesto with the help of experts in various sub-committees which are tasked with the preparation of various parts of the manifesto under respective heads.

The PML-N Manifesto has given focus to economic, energy and other challenges which at present were hampering progress of the country and had put even its sovereignty at stake.

The party firmly believes that without improving economic condition of the people by putting the economic development on fast track through positive and independent policies, the country cannot thrive but remain under threat from all sides. The manifesto which had been framed to the needs of the present day, gives special emphasis on peaceful condition in the country so that a conducive atmosphere for foreign and domestic investments could be secured.http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/lahore/03-Jan-2013/pml-n-manifesto-deferred-again

January 3, 2013   No Comments

Total confusion about future situation

By: Ashraf Mumtaz  in the Nation, Jan 3

LAHORE – The political situation is getting murkier and the holding of elections on time is becoming uncertain as Minhajul Quran Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri is ratcheting up pressure for the change of what he calls corrupt and exploitative electoral system.As of today, the Election Commission of Pakistan is taking necessary steps to ensure free and fair elections, but there are many who doubt that an elected setup will come into being once the present assemblies serve out their term. There are also others who think that the elections will be held on time, notwithstanding rumours to the contrary.The speculations about the future scenario are very conflicting.

While some insist that people will use their right to vote during the next few months, others say that the country is moving fast towards another military intervention. Both sides have arguments in support of their respective contentions.The sudden emergence of Dr Tahirul Qadri on the political scene after several years of absence and his contacts with various political forces give rise to assertions that the electoral process is going to be a casualty. And the support lent by two important allies of the government, the MQM and the PML-Q, to the agenda of the TMQ chairman strengthens this view.It is being speculated that the long march on Islamabad, scheduled for January 14, will aggravate the situation to an extent that a military intervention will become inevitable. The supporters of this theory argue that the army will never let the country drift into anarchy. They think that once the new setup takes over, steps will be taken to put the economy back on track, hold the corrupt elements accountable and recover the looted national wealth. It is said that details about the looted national wealth are already with the relevant authorities.

Political circles give tremendous importance to the MQM’s decision to support Dr Qadri’s reforms agenda. The MQM is a well-connected party and it takes calculated decisions, without taking any kind of risk.The PML-Q delegation’s meeting with Dr Tahirul Qadri and backing to his demands also raised many an eyebrows. Those knowing how ‘long armed’ and well-informed the Chaudhrys of Gujrat are can easily conclude that the TMQ is not alone in its struggle.The MQM’s decision to join hands with Dr Qadri is not without any reason. Analysts say that both the coalition partners are jumping out of the PPP’s ‘sinking ship’ because they have an idea of the shape of things to come.According to a knowledgeable source, the PML-Q and the MQM will move together and devise a joint strategy.

For the time being, the sources say, the two parties will stay part of the coalition, although after supporting Dr Qadri’s agenda there is no moral justification for them to do so.Many in the PML-Q believe that Dr Qadri stands no political future, but he is certainly a ‘spoiler’.Some in the PML-N think that the establishment is in contact with the Sharifs at certain level and discussing term of engagement with them. In their opinion the pressure being mounted through the TMQ and the MQM is aimed at bringing the Sharifs to terms.

The PML-N is determined to get the elections held on time, no matter what the price. The media persons are absolutely confused about the future situation.A TV analyst claims that the elections are likely to be held on May 6.If so, the assemblies will serve out their full term and cease to exist on March 16, as also claimed by various federal ministers.

There are conflicting reports about who would be the caretaker prime minister. While some journalists are of the view that both the PPP and the PML-N may agree to offer the mantle to Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid, some others think that PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar stands a greater chance. A columnist from South Punjab has given reasons that go in favour of the former finance minister, whose son is married to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s daughter.The PML-Q believes that more than 300 MNAs to be elected in the next elections will be the old faces.

However, they may reach the parliament on the ticket of parties other than the ones from whose platforms they had contested the previous elections.The independents will also be elected in large numbers and they will subsequently join hands with parties that serve their interests better.


January 3, 2013   No Comments

PPP, PML-N close ranks amid ‘political threat’: by Tanveer Ahmed in Daily Times, Jan 3

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have come closer in recent days following the entry of Dr Tahirul Qadri in the political arena, and both the parties have intensified their informal contacts on the setting up of a caretaker set-up prior to holding of general election.

According to sources in the two major political parties, leaderships of both have one common goal – to hold general elections as per schedule, and are working fast to achieve this. A PPP team comprising of federal ministers Khurshed Shah and Farooq H Naek is constantly holding informal talks with PML-N’s Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Asif, with the latter stressing on the former to announce the date for general elections immediately to allay uncertainty being created by some elements, which they have dubbed as spoilers for the democratic system of the country.

A central leader of the PPP also confirmed to Daily Times that such informal talks have been going on for the last few months. But they gathered pace in recent days in the backdrop of unfolding developments in the country, especially the return of Dr Qadri, who has vowed to launched a million march on Islamabad for electoral reforms before the elections. Both parties are now brainstorming on the caretaker set-up and there is a demand from the PML-N side that the caretaker set-up should be broad-based and incorporate people from different walks of life, irrespective of whether the caretaker prime minister is a political person or not.

The PPP side is expected to announce the name of the caretaker prime minister by the end of January or in early part of February following the formal consultation with National Assembly opposition leader, which is a constitutional requirement under the 20th constitutional amendment. Sources in the PML-N said that this issue has also figured strongly in the meeting of the party held in Raiwind on Wednesday and party cadres agreed to enhance contacts with the ruling PPP.

The sources pointed out that both the parties have come closer because of recent developments, and are about to overcome some issues, like holding of national and provincial assemblies’ elections on the same day. The National Assembly is completing its term on March 16. However, the Punjab Assembly will complete its term on April 18, which had created some disputes between the two parties.

The PPP wants the election of national and provincial assemblies on the same day and has advised the PML-N, which is the ruling party in Punjab, to refer the matter to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for settlement.http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\01\03\story_3-1-2013_pg1_2

January 3, 2013   No Comments

MQM rebuffs govt request to end long march support

LONDON / KARACHI:  The government’s troubleshooter dashed to London on late Tuesday night to win back the support of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key ally in the ruling coalition, which has lent it support to a scheduled ‘million-man’ march of influential scholar Tahirul Qadri.

The MQM has joined hands with the Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI) in its push for sweeping reforms in the country before the next parliamentary election.

The party said that thousands of its workers will converge in Islamabad on January 14. On Tuesday, the MQM staged a huge gathering, dubbed as “Safar-e-Inqilab-e-Pakistan”, in Karachi which was addressed by Dr Qadri as well as MQM chief Altaf Hussain.

Alarmed by the development, the government sent its troubleshooter – Interior Minister Rehman Malik – to London to meet Altaf Hussain at the MQM international secretariat. Malik requested Altaf to reconsider his party’s support for the scheduled long march.

The MQM chief advised him to send a high-powered Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) delegation to Lahore to meet Dr Qadri in person to understand his reservations. “The delegation should directly ask Dr Qadri as to what type of reforms he wants,” Altaf was quoted as telling Malik in a press release issued in London.

The MQM chief, however, reassured that his party would not pull out of the ruling coalition. He also sought to quash rumours that the MQM wanted the elections delayed. Dr Qadri has vehemently denied these rumours on several occasions, added Altaf.

He said that the MQM and Dr Qadri have invited all other political and religious parties, including the PPP, to join the “Journey for Revolution”.

Kaira lashes out at Qadri: Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Wednesday that Dr Qadri should first clarify his position whether he would contest election or not.

Talking to journalists in Faisalabad, he said Dr Qadri had expressed his intention of not contesting the election so he was not a stakeholder in the democratic system.  Holding processions and debates is the constitutional right of every citizen, but no one would be allowed to breach law, he added.

Kaira said the government and the assemblies would complete their constitutional  term. The government will complete its tenure on March 16, which will be followed by the installation of a caretaker government as per the Constitution.

He said the election process would be completed within 60 days of the caretaker government and assured that the elections would be held before May 16.

Govt forms committee

Meanwhile, the government also constituted a four-member committee to woo its coalition partners and other political forces to start consultations on a caretaker government setup to hold free and fair election.

The committee, headed by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, will approach leaders of major political and religious parties in the coming weeks. Other members of the committee included senior PPP leaders Yousaf Raza Gilani, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Khurshid Shah.

“The committee members will ensure that parties resolve their grievances on a caretaker setup,” a senior PPP leader said, requesting anonymity.

Furthermore, at a meeting held at Bilawal House, President Asif Ali Zardari directed the federal law minister to finalise a date to dissolve parliament and the four provincial assemblies and fix the date for the upcoming general election.http://tribune.com.pk/story/488364/london-rendezvous-mqm-rebuffs-govt-request-to-end-long-march-support/

January 3, 2013   No Comments