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Posts from — May 2015

The time has come: by Ikram Sehgal in Daily Times, May 21, 2015

The writer is a defence analyst and security expert
When pushed into a corner, desperate people resort to desperate measures. In a macabre confirmation of the success of the ongoing Karachi operation, terrorists carried out a heinous attack against the Ismaili community on May 13, 2015, leaving at least 45 dead. Speaking fluent Urdu and wearing police uniforms, the attackers of the ill-fated bus left leaflets at the scene with derogatory remarks, condemning the Ismailis as “apostates”. Jundullah, which only last November announced its allegiance to Islamic State (IS), claimed responsibility for the atrocity.

Building on their phenomenal success in Swat and FATA, the armed forces turned their attention inwards, helping the law enforcement agencies target terrorists and their infrastructure, deeply embedded in the vast urban hinterlands of Pakistan. Addressing a recent seminar in Karachi, Corps Commander Karachi Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar said, “The Karachi operation will be taken to its logical conclusion” by “not sparing terrorists, their facilitators, target killers and extortionists, white collar terrorists and their facilitators, and logistics providers will also be eliminated.” He reiterated a well-known truth: “The Sindh police and administration should be free from political interference and hiring should be apolitical and merit-based. Law and order problems have been complicated by political and administrative inefficiency.” In this telling public statement, Naveed Mukhtar emphatically called the politicians and government “incompetent and failures”. He said: “We are living in defining times and failure is not an option. We must act decisively and wholeheartedly to translate our policies into meaningful and coordinated tangible measures that can lead to a stable environment secure from fear, extremism and militancy with a firmly established writ of state and rule of law.”

“Almost every political party uses militant muscle in Pakistan as a self-defence mechanism to fend off its opponents,” said my article ‘Diversionary tactic backfires’ (Daily Times, May 7, 2015). It also said, “Harbouring of militants for enforcing their own version of the law is illegal but that is how feudals stay in power. While the MQM, PPP and ANP are the normal ‘suspects’ for having militant wings in Karachi, did Gullu Butt of Model Town fame appear out of thin air? As a weapon of offence and/or of subjugation to keep the party’s recalcitrant in line, it crosses the failsafe line into criminality. Such criminals depend upon their political bosses to keep them out of jail and, even if they are incarcerated, to be provided with five-star comfort. Potentially they are a sword of Damocles over the heads of their political bosses if they turn state witness, e.g. Saulat Mirza, Zulfikar Mirza and the rumoured 1,500 page statement given by Uzair Baloch to the Dubai police.”

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Pakistan army, General Raheel Sharif, described the surge in operations against terrorists and criminals as apolitical, across the board and focused on achieving peace in the country. Noting that RAW was whipping up terrorism in Pakistan, he vowed to take all measures to eradicate the scourge. Our intelligence agencies seem to finally comprehend the nature of the hybrid warfare being conducted against Pakistan.

The PPP chief, Asif Ali Zardari, claimed that he was “completely satisfied” with the performance of his Sindh chief minister, Qaim Ali Shah, ruling out both the latter’s resignation and the imposition of governor’s rule. “Sindh has never been more peaceful during any of the military regimes,” he said. Commenting directly on Naveed Mukhtar’s statement, Zardari added that “military officials were trained to be aggressive”. This reaction from the PPP was to be expected because it is bracing itself to be held accountable after the MQM. The PPP cannot wish away the People’s Amn Committee (PAC). Can the allegations of the ultimate insider, Zulfikar Mirza, once an all-powerful home minister in Qaim Ali Shah’s cabinet, be brushed aside? In overseeing PAC’s adding to Karachi’s violence, where did Mirza’s instructions come from? The sustained interrogation by the Rangers has uncovered a wealth of information implicating many across the political hierarchy (and the country’s elite) divide. Almost all the ruling politicians in Sindh know that they have repeatedly crossed the line into criminality.

Given the nexus between corruption, organised crime and terrorism, those facilitating terrorism are all equally as culpable as those committing terrorism, regardless of whether they belong to religious factions, political parties or criminal gangs. Those providing political and legal support, and media space to criminals are also guilty. Can the media target any financial institutions for misdemeanours considering their large advertising budgets? Conversely, financial institutions can target anyone. Most corruption is politically facilitated, morphing into its own unique Karachi-specific version of organised crime. Without organised crime providing a platform, terrorism would not be possible. Moreover, it is now common across the world for terrorist attacks to be outsourced. That RAW has been engaged in terrorist attacks in Pakistan through proxies is not news, neither is the fact that those doing its dirty work belong to any one political party. The nexus of the resident evil with our external enemies has provided a convenient platform for terrorists of all kinds to operate.

The principles and standards for honesty and integrity must apply impartially because it is patently unfair to hold only civilians accountable and not target those in uniform. If we are to fight terrorism successfully, the principles and standards for honesty and integrity must apply impartially. When influence is combined with illegally acquired wealth, the power to subvert the course of justice multiplies. The present military hierarchy must sustain their excellent reputation, both professionally and personally, by holding the handful of crooks who besmirched the uniforms they once wore or may be wearing still accountable. The time has come to hold everyone engaged in criminal activities accountable.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/21-May-2015/the-time-has-come

May 21, 2015   No Comments

The fragile peace; by Dr Mohammad Ismail Khan in Daily Times, May 21, 2015

The author is assistant accountant general, Peshawar
There was relative calm for a few weeks. This let up in terrorist incidents made us believe that we had overcome the menace of terrorism. The leadership, both khakis and civvies, were over the moon for bringing back some semblance of normalcy to the war-torn land. However, all this was merely a lull before the terrorists struck again on May 13, 2015, in Karachi. This time, the targets were the innocent men and women of the Ismaili community. As failure is always an orphan and success has many fathers, a blame-game ensued to fix responsibility for the security lapse. The sequel of such terrorist incidents has become too predictable in our country.

Condemnatory statements as usual poured in from all quarters and the opposition tried to extract maximum mileage from this dastardly act of terror. The next day was declared a national day of mourning. The Station House Officer (SHO) and Deputy Superintendent Police (DSP) were suspended for negligence. The military and political leadership, as usual, resolved that the blood of innocent civilians would not go waste. The perpetrators were warned of dire consequences by members of our wartime cabinet. For a befitting reply, many meetings were called. Committees of all hues and colours were constituted to round up the perpetrators. This time around, we credulous beings were once again informed that the involvement of a foreign intelligence agency could not be ruled out. God forbid, if terrorists had access to the media they would simply have retorted: “Put up or shut up.” What a mockery we have made of this war against terror.

Beyond any doubt, militancy cannot be uprooted overnight. It is a long drawn out war and this terror will haunt us for quite some time. However, statesmanship, courage and vision, needed in time of national crises, especially when the state is at war, are simply missing from the equation. A few days back, when Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid criticised the seminaries, he earned the ire of the clergy. They challenged his religious credentials and put his life in jeopardy with absolute impunity. The response of the government was to quickly brush the matter under the carpet to avoid the wrath of the clerics.

This policy of appeasement pursued by the state vis-à-vis the clergy has landed us in our present morass. These committees and meetings are too little, too late. Unless the bull is taken by the horns, we cannot reclaim peace. The clergy are free to brainwash our children and openly instigate violence in this wretched land. The clerics have unbridled freedom of expression no matter how venomous their speeches are. Their absolute freedom, supported by the state, is the real existential threat we face. We are paying with our blood for this policy of appeasement. Unless this march of insanity in the name of religion is checked, peace will remain an unfulfilled dream for a long time to come.

The crisis begs for a charismatic leader but we are not fortunate enough in this regard as well. Great leaders like Lincoln, Bismarck, Churchill, Ataturk and De Gaulle were all the products of crises. They steered their nations through troubled waters with the sheer strength of their courage and clarity of their vision. Our politicos are content with constituting committees, chairing meetings and issuing condemnatory statements. Can we assume that they do not know the outfits responsible for preaching religious and sectarian hatred? Is it rocket science to understand where they are getting the funds to run their sectarian franchises? Does it require the brain of a genius to know how many banned organisations are still operating here with absolute impunity? How much more unity and all parties’ conferences do they need to muster enough courage to take tough decisions?

They are more informed than us ordinary beings but they do not want to take any risks. They are lesser beings and are therefore meant for lesser things. They know the art of political wheeling and dealing. They are the masters of real politic but not wartime leaders. Extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary measures. However, extraordinary measures can only be taken by extraordinary leaders. After every terrorist incident, the Prime Minister (PM) declares a national day of mourning. We have enough moaning and mourning; this practice should be withheld for a while. In a war, it is courage, not mourning, that counts. Had the PM addressed a public rally the other day right in Karachi, the fear the terrorists want to instil in the minds of Karachiites would have been mitigated considerably. Oh, I may be asking for too much.

The meeting of the apex committee has already taken place. Now, a few foot soldiers of sectarian outfits will be rounded up or killed in the next few days or weeks. The news of their arrest and killing will be flashed in the media to sooth the strained nerves of the people in general and the bereaved community in particular. This is our way of fighting a war and therefore our peace will remain fragile forever.http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/21-May-2015/the-fragile-peace

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Economic growth — missing the mark: Editorial in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2015.

The Pakistani economy has been projected to have a growth rate of 4.2 per cent for the outgoing fiscal year, which ends on June 30, meaning the government has missed the ambitious target of 5.1 per cent it had set itself. According to a provisional reading of the growth in GDP, the country was just marginally ahead of its performance last year but well short of the target. However, the projections remain largely in line with what the IMF, the ADB and the World Bank had predicted for Pakistan. The announcement of a 4.2 per cent growth rate does not come as a surprise. The growth is higher than what Pakistan had achieved in the last few years and is due in part to the perception of a pro-business government in place. There is no doubt that the Nawaz Administration has always tried to instill confidence in the business community — maybe a few select sectors to be more precise — and managed to help the capital markets’ performance as well. It was also largely to its advantage that global crude oil prices slumped over 50 per cent during the outgoing fiscal year, helping the country’s businesses to flourish to some extent. This also gave an opportunity to the government to reduce discount rates, with the inflation rate recording one low after another, benefiting highly leveraged companies as well.

However, we need to take a look at the larger picture. More than two-thirds of the growth came from the services sector, including telecommunications and banking. Growth in industrial and agricultural sectors could not catch up. Historically, Pakistan has never been a manufacturing country and therein lies the problem. While we can sit back and celebrate the growth in services, what is actually needed is the utilisation of the current favourable scenario to promote the manufacturing sector. Exports have failed to rise the way they could have and constant changes in policy is a huge impediment. All sectors, including automobile, textile and agriculture, have lamented the frequent changes in policies as the core reason for their lack of growth. The power crisis is another cliched reason but a major one nevertheless. The government needs to identify the problems impeding growth in various sectors and then develop the political will to eradicate them; otherwise, the Pakistani economy reaching its true potential will remain a dream. http://tribune.com.pk/story/889571/economic-growth-missing-the-mark/

May 21, 2015   No Comments

One more tax: edit in The News, May 21, 2015

Rs100 billion – this is the amount of useless taxes that will be added to the burden of taxpayers in Pakistan after parliament approved the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) Bill, 2014, on Tuesday. The GIDC is a controversial tax that had been imposed by the PPP in 2011 to cover the cost of building the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline. The tax has become redundant as the PML-N government has decided against going forward with the Pak-Iran gas pipeline. However, the government has still insisted on collecting the tax through an ordinance in September 2014 which was extended by parliament for another six months. The Rs100 billion that has been collected in GIDC for 2014-15 is lying in a separate account. Ideally, the amount should have been returned to consumers since the ‘infrastructure development’ that it was supposed to fund is no longer going ahead. In order to get the bill approved before issuing the federal budget for 2015-16, the PML-N government summoned an emergency session of parliament. The bill was approved amidst uproar by opposition parties, including the PTI, the MQM and the Jamaat-e-Islami. The PPP played a double role. It led the critique of the bill, calling it ‘dictatorial’, ‘a conspiracy to weaken the federation’ and a ‘damaging piece of legislation’ before deciding that it would be ‘hypocritical’ to oppose a tax they (the PPP) had imposed in the first place.

The drama in the National Assembly was followed by the adoption of a resolution against the GIDC bill in the Sindh Assembly, which is controlled by the PPP. The controversial bill has already faced a number of legal challenges, the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan having ruled against the collection of the tax in the absence of any legislation. One report has suggested that over 4,000 consumers filed cases against the cess while a number of businesses made their opposition clear. The PTI and MQM have correctly pointed out that the tax should have been discussed in the Council of Common Interest and that the central government was interfering in provincial affairs. The JI referred to the fact that some members of the government had conceded that the tax had been imposed due to a commitment to the IMF. If true, the true cost of the IMF bailout is now becoming clearer – taxes being collected under one head and being spent under another. The government claims that the cess will help meet the gap between gas demand and supply and fund a number of gas import projects. It has promised parliamentary supervision of its disbursal. However, these vague statements are belied by the fact that there are no gas infrastructure projects in the pipeline. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-8-319288-One-more-tax

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Security for policemen ; Editorial in Dawn, May 21st, 2015

ACROSS Pakistan, police officers — especially those involved in sensitive counterterrorism work — are at particular risk of falling to the assassin’s bullet. This is especially true in Karachi, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the killings of men in uniform are nothing new.Yet, these incidents, especially when they go unpunished, demoralise the force and embolden the militants.Many a fine officer has gone too soon, and on Wednesday another name was added to the growing list of policemen targeted by militants.DSP Bahadur Khan, associated with the counterterrorism department of the Peshawar police, was shot early in the day and succumbed to his wounds, while his killers managed to flee.As per reports, the banned TTP has claimed responsibility for the killing. On Tuesday, a police constable in Mingora was also killed; some media reports have suggested that the TTP may have had a hand in that crime as well.

The counterterrorism department is a relatively new addition to the Peshawar police structure and is said to be delivering strong results.Over the past few months, a number of wanted men have been picked up by the department, and there were intelligence reports that militants would target the police. The murder of the DSP may well be a reaction by militants to proactive counterterrorism action.While the military is confronting militants in the battlefield, the police have an equally difficult job when it comes to protecting urban spaces from the terrorist threat.Therefore, the state needs to examine how it can improve security protocols to better protect police officers, especially those involved in counterterrorism work. Whether it is through providing them additional security, restricting their movements or through other tactical and operational procedures, police forces countrywide need to reassess ways to protect those on the front line of the fight against militancy. In general, the police are a demoralised force. When active officers are easily targeted by militants, motivation levels drop even further, which is why security procedures for the men in uniform need to be reviewed. http://www.dawn.com/news/1183171/security-for-policemen

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Hit-List : edit in The Nation, May 21, 2015

Deputy Superintendent Bahadur Khan was shot dead by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Peshawar on Wednesday. Most recently in Karachi, there was a bloodbath. Peshawar and Karachi are strongholds of insurgents, little did we realize that they would become the twin cities of terror. DSP Bahadur Khan was on his way to drop his daughter to school, when motorcycle-riding gunmen opened fire on him. His daughter survives him, but the fact is that ordinary life in Pakistan has been hijacked by terrorism. Victims don’t even have to unequivocally offend religion to die now, it could be anything, so as citizens, we cannot protect ourselves anymore; we are at the mercy of these men on bikes with guns. Coincidentally, DSP Bin Qasim Abdul Fateh Sangri was shot dead in Karachi, on May 1, again by the TTP. “DSP Fateh was number 37 on our hit-list,” was the statement by the TTP spokesperson, Muhammad Khorasani.
How long is this hit-list and who else is on it, only time will tell. But lets look at what ensued after the December 16 APS attack. Nine Military Courts were set up to function for two years by passing the 21st Amendment to the 1973 Constitution and amending the 1952 Army Act. They were seen as a dangerous option, with the risk of miscarriage of justice. But while analysis of the courts was in depth, and rightly so, there was no significant public pressure for action to be taken against militants like Hafiz Saeed (who has a bounty on his head and is still allowed rally’s and conferences), and his allied brethren Ludhianvi of Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) (proscribed under Pakistani law for spreading sectarian hatred against Shia Muslims), and Lakhvi (of Mumbai attack fame). Yet we are apologists for madrassas, for the violence of the TTP and its like and continue to blame the US and RAW for the acts of these people. When it was suggested that `a fifth military coup’ may have silently taken place with the unanimous consent of the National Assembly at the time Military courts were established, religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JuI) chimed in! Maulana Fazlur Rehman denigrated the government’s “non-serious attempt to convert an Islamic state into a secular one”. Because that is our biggest problem, that we are becoming secular! Is that why there are hit-lists? Is that why the TTP and Jundallah are racing to taking responsibility for any killing they can use for their fear-machine? http://nation.com.pk/editorials/21-May-2015/hit-list

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Is Zardari on counter offensive?: by Mazhar Abbas in The News, May 21, 2015

ISLAMABAD: It appears the PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari is in a counter offensive mood, giving clean chit to the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah by reposing confidence in him, asking him to continue and ruling out any change in Sindh.

Is he apprehending something unusual in the coming weeks or months in Karachi in particular? Will he get the required political support from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?Is this reaction to some of the major decisions taken during the extraordinary visit of Army Chief General Raheel Sharif along with intelligence chiefs to Karachi last week?

It appears the former president is not very pleased with the rising influence of the establishment and its taking charge of the “law and order” and the Sindh Home Ministry.

The changing mood of the former president came days after some startling disclosures were made by the Corps Commander Karachi Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar in his speech about the prevailing situation in this mega city, loopholes and nexus between “crime and politics,” with the government losing influence to control the situation.

Now, whether his counter offensive would work out or not would be interesting to watch, but he has now decided to play a more active role and will make more and more public appearances.

Mr. Zardari knows Karachi can be in turmoil if anything happens to Altaf Hussain. So, he may use his political clout and back the MQM in order to save his neck, too. Mr. Zardari showed sign of nervousness when indirectly he expressed his reservations about some of the remarks of Gen. Naveed without realizing that it came after some important decisions taken in high-level meetings of the Army Chief General Raheel during his two-day visit to the city in the light of reports of Intelligence agencies, which also includes some major corruption cases.

Talking to journalists in Islamabad, Zardari tried to give a strong message to the establishment in this manner. (1) Chief Minister of Sindh will neither resign nor replaced, (2) No to governor’s rule and for this he took shelter behind the 18th Amendment, (3) he is not scared of any “magic wand,” and (4) aggressive style is part of the corps commander’s training. What does it mean? Has Mr. Zardari tried to dispel the impression that what Gen. Naveed said was just a style carrying no substance? (5) Dr Zulfiqar Mirza is speaking on behalf of “someone else.” What does it mean as Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has also made similar remarks? Who is this someone else?

Therefore, it is clear that Mr. Zardari and his government in Sindh is in no mood to change its style of government. Differences may come on surface when the “screening” in the Sindh police starts and over the formula of fresh appointments and training.

Mr. Zardari’s message to the PPP workers that his son and party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached Dubai and is coming back to lead the party along with his sister Assefa is a move to raise the moral of party workers.

Mr. Zardari has already developed a long-term understanding with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has lot to do in “handling” the establishment and Imran Khan. The PPP will not create any hurdles in government’s legislation in the Senate while the PM has assured him of no interference in Sindh. However, the issue which is still causing concern is the reopening of pending cases against him. Prime minister and interior minister’s differences on “Mr. Zardari” and on some other matters still persist.

We may see a more aggressive Zardari in the coming days and weeks but his main target will not be the PML-N or Nawaz Sharif but the PTI. He will continue to remain soft on the MQM, as he may need the powerful urban-based party in case his tension increased with the establishment. By patting the back of Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Mr. Zardari now wants him to put his foot down and take a position as “chief executive” in case his power is challenged.

Shah Sahab delayed his speech in the Sindh Assembly, which he wanted to make a day after the corps commander’s speech, as he wanted to take Mr. Zardari into confidence. His speech showed his regaining confidence. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who met him after several months (one-on-one), also opposed the resignation demand, though the two are still not on one page on many matters related to “Karachi Targeted Action.”

Although Shah Sahab received telephone calls from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Zardari over the arrest of four suspects in the massacre of 47 Ismaili Muslims, the fact remains that those arrested were just “facilitators” and not the assailants. It is certainly a development but it remains to be seen whether “right people” were arrested or not.

Similarly, he has now withdrawn his earlier stance on the involvement of Indian intelligence agency RAW in the incident and now believes there are still no evidences of its involvement. Perhaps, that is why Ch. Nisar too avoided putting direct blame on the RAW.

So far, the PPP has not opposed the paramilitary operation, crackdown on the alleged MQM militants or members of the Lyari gang war, but it may oppose any move which could lead to reopening of cases and fresh inquires, crackdown on corrupt officers in the Sindh and local government departments.

It may also be quite intriguing why all of a sudden the Federal Investigation Agency and Sindh police have stopped taking interest in the extradition of the main character of Lyari gang war Uzair Baluch. Will Uzair ever come to Pakistan again after some reports suggest he would mostly likely be handed over to Iran, as he is wanted in a case? So, there is a sign of relief for many if he does not come to Pakistan.

Mr. Zardari knows till the next general election Sindh is his last hope. He wants to make some inroads in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan while trying to regain thePPP position in the Southern Punjab.

Thus, his understanding with Nawaz is to give the PPP space in Southern Punjab and help counter the PTI. Sharif too is sacred of Imran Khan despite some setback to the PTI.

But, there is little the prime minister can do in case the establishment goes all out in Sindh against terrorists, criminals, militant wings of political and religious parties and most importantly crackdown on “corrupt officers,” which could lead to politicians.

The decisive phase can come after the Judicial Commission’s finding, which may set direction whether the government will get stronger or go home to get ready for the fresh polls. www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-319356-Is-Zardari-on-counter-offensive

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Bilawal coming next month to resume politics: Zardari

LAHORE – PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said that Bilawal was coming to Pakistan next month to resume political activities under his supervision.
In an interview to a local news channel, Zardari said that on his arrival in Pakistan next month, Bilawal would visit all the four provinces alongwith him and interact with party men.
To a question about Bilawal’s security, he said that security arrangements would have to be made during his movement which may be kept restricted at certain places depending on the situation.
When asked to comment on his earlier statement about Bilawal’s being an immature politically, Zardari said that he had infact stated that Bilawal would get mature with the passage of time.
“I would teach him politics”, he added.
Answering a question about Bilawal’s future political role, Zardari expressed the hope that he would contest the next general elections scheduled to be held in 2018.
He was confident that PPP would give a tough time to its political rivals in the four provinces.
To another question, Zardari predicted that no political party would be in a position to form government in the Centre on the basis of its own strength in the National Assembly as a result of 2018 elections.
He said he saw ‘reconciliatory’ government after the next general elections.
Zardari reiterated that his party was not interested in early polls as it wanted the present government to complete its tenure.
He said he had reservations about PML-N’s mandate but accepted the election results to keep the democracy on track.
To a question about MQM, he said that all the political parties including the PPP and the MQM had some rotten eggs which should be thrown out to clean the parties. Asked if the MQM should be disbanded in the wake of recent revelations by security agencies and the statement of Saulat Mirza, he replied that the political space vacated by the MQM would be occupied by non-political forces.
“Political parties should reform themselves but should not concede their space to non-political forces”, he remarked.
To a question, he said he believed in evolution rather than the revolution as the latter was a very dangerous thing.
About Zulfiqar Mirza’s allegations against him, he said that Mirza was only showing his character by stating things which had nothing to do with reality.
Zardari also disowned Ozair Baloch and Peoples Aman Committee, stating PPP had nothing to do with both.
He said he was not worried about it.
To a question about Pakistani IT firm Axact, Zardari said he was not aware of its illegal activities. He said the FBR and other concerned revenue departments should be asked about it.
“They should have investigated the matter in the past if they had any information about the scam”, he added.
On Economic Corridor project with China, he said that the work on the project started during PPP tenure and the first patch of the track was completed upto Attaabad Lake in Hunza.
“Such long term projects cannot be completed in the tenure of one government”, he said.
On Yemen crisis, he said that PPP was opposed to sending troops to Saudi Arabia because Pakistani forces were already over-stretched. Zardari, however, said that Pakistan could support Saudi Arabia by sending doctors, nurses, medicines, sugar and wheat for the war affectees.
He said that PPP stood for protection of territorial boundaries of all the Gulf States including Saudi Arabia.
He said that these countries were important to him as some three million Pakistanis worked in Saudi Arabia and around two million in other Gulf countries.http://nation.com.pk/national/21-May-2015/bilawal-coming-next-month-to-resume-politics-zardari

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Officers from KP, Balochistan facing discrimination: ANP

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) secretary general Mian Iftikhar Hussain has accused Central Selection Board of meting out injustices to the officers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan working in District Management Group and Police Service Pakistan.

In a statement here, the ANP leader said the officers hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were faced with discrimination in promotion. He said in Central Selection Board majority of the members belonged to the Punjab province who influenced the decisions.

The ANP leader said other smaller provinces also had reservations over the decisions of the promotion board for ignoring the officials from these provinces. He said his party would take up the issue at every platform to address the injustice.

The ANP leader said opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah had also taken up the issue of the officials belonging to Sindh. He said the central selection board has ordered promotion of DMG and PSP officials which is unjustified and asked the government to establish a new board with equal representation from all the provinces.

Mian Iftikhar said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his speech at National Assembly had assured that he would discuss the issue with the opposition leader.He asked the prime minister to address reservations of the officers belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and provide them justice. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-319370-Officers-from-KP-Balochistan-facing-discrimination-ANP

Siraj accuses centre of denying rights to smaller provinces
PESHAWAR – Ameer Jamaat islami (JI) Senator Sirajul Haq on Wednesday said the federal government was denying the smaller provinces their lawful rights.
Addressing a big public meeting at Nowshera, he urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to limit his approach to the Punjab province alone because he was the chief executive of the entire country.
He said the narrow approach of the rulers was deepening the sense of deprivation among the smaller provinces. He said the rulers at the centre would have to shake off their biases and grant equal rights to other provinces.
The JI chief said that load-shedding was the biggest problem of KP due to which scores of factories and industrial units were laying closed and thousands of workers had been rendered jobless. Sirajul Haq said it did not make any difference whether the federal budget was prepared by Shaukat Aziz or Ishaq Dar because there was nothing for the poor in the document.“All the policies of the feudal lords and capitalists are aimed at benefitting the privileged,” he said.
He the poor never befitted from the huge loans drawn from the IMF and the World Bank.
These loans were devoured by the rulers while the man in the street had to pay off these loans.
The JI chief said the exploitative system that had been continuing in the country for the last 68 years had created much hatred and the gulf between the rich and the poor had widened.
He said that under the prevailing system, the sons of the rulers would become rulers while the children of the poor man remained deprived of the basic necessities of life.
Senator Sirajul Haq said the JI on coming into power would adopt poor friendly policies and grant interest free loans to the womenfolk, workers and kisans to improve their lot.
He, therefore, urged the masses to stand by Jamaat Islami for overthrowing the present system in which the corrupt politicians protected the corruption and misdeeds of one another.http://nation.com.pk/national/21-May-2015/siraj-accuses-centre-of-denying-rights-to-smaller-provinces

May 21, 2015   No Comments

Pakistan and the Rome Statute: by Yasser Latif Hamdani in daily times, May 18, 2015

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality
The Pakistani state should ratify the Rome Statute, which creates the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Even though Pakistan was one of the 120 states that had voted to create an ICC in July 1998, it has failed to either sign or ratify the Rome Statute. Perhaps it is time for the country to reconsider its stance. Given the increasing number of accusations against both state and non-state actors about human rights violations, the state’s legal system has often been found inadequate in dealing with either carrying out a free and fair investigation in the matter or has been rendered irrelevant.
A fair and impartial judicial process like the ICC has benefits not just for the alleged victims but for alleged perpetrators as well. It can separate the grain from the chaff and ensure that one gets to the truth behind allegations of genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity individuals or groups are accused of. The only people who are afraid of the ICC are those who have skeletons in their closet. India, for example, will never accept the jurisdiction of the ICC given its heavy handedness in parts of that country including Kashmir and Nagaland. Are we going to always merely follow India as we have always done or do we aspire to be a more humane, tolerant and progressive society than them? Perhaps that is the real problem. Perhaps everything we do is predicated on whether India has done it first. This approach has always hurt us. The basic structure theory that now plagues our constitutional thinking has been borrowed from India. Our notions of sovereignty and federalism are heavily influenced by the Indian school of thought both in law and foreign affairs. All in all, following India blindly has led us into a dark alley in all legal and constitutional matters.

The Rome Statute opens up a new vista. It defines crimes against humanity as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of the population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender or other grounds that are universally recognised as impermissible, or any crime within the jurisdiction of the court, enforced disappearance of persons, the crime of apartheid, other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. In this definition of particular interest to Pakistanis is the “persecution against any identifiable group”. The Pakistani state has often been helpless against systemic legal and social persecution against certain groups (like the Ahmedis) in the country. Having an overarching international statute governing the state will help the Pakistani state apply to the ICC to resolve issues it is either unwilling or unable to tackle on its own. As Pakistanis we need to face up to the reality: our human rights record is abysmal and we have willingly or unwillingly become party to some of the most outrageous crimes against humanity in recent times. By accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC, not only will we ensure that much of these wrongs are rectified but will also ensure that all accused have a fair shake when it comes to being adjudged for their crimes.

The advantages of signing on to the ICC for Pakistan far outweigh the disadvantages. No doubt, a number of individuals in Pakistan will become candidates for being tried for crimes against humanity as they rightly should. These may include people from various political parties to even individuals within Pakistan’s feared deep state. However, it will also mean that Pakistan’s institutions, both civilian and military, will have to hold themselves to a higher human rights standard than before. It will also allow Pakistan a say in the running of the affairs of the ICC including the appointments of judicial officers at court. Pakistan, it must be remembered, also contributes one of the largest contingents to peacekeeping missions around the world. Therefore, by not signing on to the ICC we are exposing our troops to its jurisdiction without having a say in how the court adjudicates such cases. Becoming part of the ICC gives a state added protection against aggression on its soil. The Palestinian Authority is the latest member of the ICC and the decision of the Authority to ratify the Rome Statute has been nothing less than a nightmare of the occupying power, i.e. Israel. Now Israel will have to think twice before carrying out the kind of attacks against Palestine that it did last year. The ICC has already begun looking into possible breaches by the state of Israel in Gaza. If Pakistan was a member of the ICC it could in theory bring a case against Indian shelling of villages along the Sialkot border for example.

The idea of a global human rights court like the ICC is the wave of the future. Sooner or later, try as the powerful offenders may against it, its jurisdiction will cover the entire world. All but 44 countries around the world have signed on to the Rome Statute. The 44 countries that have refused to either sign or ratify the instrument are amongst the worst offenders of human rights and international law. Do we as a nation wish to remain on that ignominious list of human rights offenders? No, we should ratify the Rome Statute and boldly say to the world that we have nothing to hide and that we will stand proud in the comity of nations as a responsible member, a member that respects human rights and that does its utmost to ensure that rule of law prevails in our borders. That is the Pakistan we must aspire to and that is the Pakistan we must have. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/18-May-2015/pakistan-and-the-rome-statute

May 18, 2015   No Comments