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Showing posts from 2008

What is to be done…

As part of my morning regimen (read drudgery), I have been scanning half a dozen local English dailies for the last few hours. I find something in common in almost all the Editorial/Opinion pages of these dailies (including this newspaper’s). The subjects being discussed in editorials or opinion pieces are the same: Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf, deposed judges, democracy in Pakistan, ‘crises’ (which range from rising militancy to soaring inflation, from energy debacle to oil crisis, etc.) facing down the barrel, called, my country. Well, pardon me dear readers, but I will be committing the sin of touching upon the same topics, albeit a bit differently – which by the way sounds like a clichéd dialogue spouted by scores of pedestrian Lollywood movie producers/directors/actors/actresses, engaged in the lowly business of making a rehashed version of a gazillion Bollywood movies and then claiming, “Ismay kuch different dekhne ko milega public ko” (The public would get to see somet…

United Pakistan Muslim League?!

The ‘marriage of convenience’ between the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has ended up in divorce. The PML-N on Monday (August 25) formally pulled out of the coalition government. Their representatives will henceforth sit on the Opposition benches in parliament.

In a press conference at Punjab House, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif showed the media a copy of the agreement made with the PPP – on which the PPP later backtracked – outlining the steps intended to be taken for the impeachment of then president Pervez Musharraf and restoration of the deposed judges. Mr Sharif said that he was left with no choice but to snap ties with the PPP. “It was a tough decision which we had to take. We made many efforts to keep this alliance alive,” he said.

All eyes are now set on the presidential elections, scheduled for September 6. The PML-N has nominated Justice (retd) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui for the office of president while Mr Asif Zardari is the presidenti…

Raising their voice

‘Liberty, equality and fraternity’: the Dravidian Movement in South India

“We are fit to think of ‘self-respect’ only when the notion of superior and inferior caste is banished from our land” — Periyar Ramasami.

I visited India last year in November as a Panos fellow. The trip was quite memorable in itself, but one thing that left a deep impact on me was our visit to Anna Arivalayam in Chennai, the official headquarters of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). DMK is the ruling party in Tamil Nadu. A permanent exhibition depicting the entire history of the Dravidian Movement has been installed in Anna Arivalayam. The exhibition includes portraits of Dravidian stalwarts, scholars and leaders who inculcated the spirit of Tamil language and Tamil culture into the minds of the people; drawings and photographs of significant events that took place during the evolution of the movement; a mini-theatre has been set up where documentary films of Dravidian leaders, namely Periyar Ramasami, C.N. An…

Pak-India media: the barometer of development

If there is one barometer through which one could gauge the intensity with which the engines are moving towards acquiring the vision of ‘Shining India’, it is their mass media. Wilbur Schramm, the guru of mass communication, too emphasised that the mass media is reflective of a society’s level of development. Using this touchstone, it would be advantageous to compare the media of both Pakistan and India with regard to the quality, cost, readership/viewership, economics and the amount of freedom afforded them by the state to know at what level of development – political, social and economic – both states stand at present.

During my stay in India as a Panos fellow, it was quite amazing to see that an 84-page English newspaper costs Rs 2.50 in India, while a 20-page English newspaper in Pakistan costs Rs 13. It is quite another thing that the 84-page Indian newspaper is full of advertisements (nearly half of the pages carry advertisements), a lot of pages are filled with showbiz news (som…

Restoration of deposed judges: the fourth option

It is being widely debated these days how the deposed judges can be restored. Three options have been proposed till now. One, the deposed judges can be restored through an executive order; two, the National Assembly can bring about a resolution with a simple majority on this issue; and three, the issue can be resolved by making some constitutional amendments, for which a two-thirds majority of the parliament is needed.

These are the three options doing the rounds. Yet there could be a fourth option – that of a referendum, as suggested by a renowned politician and former parliamentarian, Haji Saifullah Khan, in an exclusive interview with Channel 5. A veteran politician, Haji sahab is one of those few parliamentarians who not only understand the Constitution and the law very well, but have deep knowledge of parliamentary practices too.

Haji Saifullah said when the 160 million people of Pakistan would vote for the restoration of the deposed judges, the judiciary would not only be indepen…

Saathiyon salaam hai…

The Community Development Exchange defines ‘community development’ as: “The process of developing active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect. It is about influencing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives…Community workers (officers) facilitate the participation of people in this process. They enable connections to be made between communities and with the development of wider policies and programmes…Community development expresses values of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning. Educating, enabling and empowering are at the core of community development.”

Community development, and struggle for the rights of the downtrodden that are embedded in Gandhinian philosophy have their manifestations in present day India. Mahatma Gandhi was a man of the masses – ready to take up the cudgels on behalf of …

Chiseling out rough edges

With the results of the February 18 elections out, Pakistan has entered a crucial phase of its transition towards democracy, that of forming stable governments both at the Centre and provinces and thereby help the country wriggle out of its many crises, ranging from flour and energy shortage to the militancy raging in the tribal areas and spilling over into settled areas of the country, especially in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Most important, however, remains the task of restoring Pakistan’s original Constitution and, subsequently, instituting a strong parliamentary system. Restoration of the sacked judges forms an essential part of this undertaking. This would of course require forcing the exit of President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, who can be rightly blamed for inflicting the most fatal wounds to Pakistan’s parliamentary democracy by ruling through a handpicked prime minister and a spineless parliament that functioned under the shadow of a constitutional amen…

Disturbing signs

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007. With her died the hopes of millions of Pakistanis. And like most people, her death has shaken me to the core, though I was not a great fan of her politics. Yet the uncertainty her death has generated looms over this country and bleeds the heart of every Pakistani.

The foremost casualty of this tragedy is the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), whose future hangs in the balance. The co-chairperson of the PPP, Asif Zardari, is a controversial figure due to many charges of corruption, etc., in which he was allegedly involved. After Ms Bhutto’s unfortunate death, controversy again enveloped Mr Zardari when he said that Benazir Bhutto’s ‘will’ would not be made public. What has made this statement come under scrutiny is that according to the ‘will’, Ms Bhutto appointed her husband Asif Ali Zardari as the party chairman. When this ‘will’ was read before the PPP’s Central Executive Committee, Mr Zardari refused to become the new chairman and ap…