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Showing posts from January, 2010

Of ethics and hypocrisy

In the land of the ‘pure’, hypocrisy reigns supreme. A glaring example of this is Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan’s recent and not-so-recent antics. The law minister was able to get his own high-rise plaza exempted from scrutiny. Not only did he get illegal paper-work done to show his three-storey building as a two-storey building, he also papered over the fact that the building was being used for commercial purposes and was not a residential building as he had claimed in the official documents. Not only is Mr Sanaullah Khan a member of the ruling party in Punjab, the PML-N, he is also the provincial law minister. If the law minister himself is breaking the law, how can the government of Punjab have the moral authority to ask the citizens to follow the rule of law?

With the Punjab chief minister’s drive against ‘illegal buildings’ and the Punjab government on a rampage against high-rise commercial plazas, the omission of Mr Sanaullah’s own property is a grim reminder of the do…

Farewell, Comrade Basu!

“Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves” is an adage that best describes veteran communist leader of India, Jyoti Basu, who passed away on January 17, 2010. He was 95 years old. Even in death, the great leader proved that he was a people’s man through and through. Mr Basu’s body will be donated for medical study and research while his eyes were donated to an eye bank right after his death.

While pursuing a law degree in Britain, Jyoti Basu developed an interest in Marxism. Upon his return to India, instead of practising law, he joined the Communist Party of India (CPI). He earned the respect of the party as well as the people by his dedicated work for people’s rights. He soon joined politics and was elected to the Bengal Provincial Assembly in 1946.

When the CPI split in 1964, Basu joined the CPI (Marxist) and was the last surviving member of the party’s first politburo. The split in CPI took place after differences between China and the Soviet Union emerged. The…

A regional solution

Just days ahead of the London conference on Afghanistan, a meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan took place in Islamabad. The timing of this trilateral meeting is of utmost importance. The purpose of the London conference is to set an agenda for bringing peace in war-torn Afghanistan with the help of the regional players and the international community. The conference is being touted as one of the most important agenda-setting ones for the future of Afghanistan.

Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan’s trilateral meeting is significant as it is very rare to have these three neighbours sitting together. The foreign ministers discussed the situation in Afghanistan and agreed on a joint framework to meet the regional security challenges. The declaration said that any regional or international conference on Afghanistan should “acknowledge the salience of our trilateral engagement and cooperation for achieving common objectives and lasting peace and stability in A…

Follies of the past

A US delegation led by the Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, met President Zardari in Lahore. The president took up serious issues with Holbrooke keeping in view present and past circumstances in the region. Of great significance was President Zardari’s mention of fighting a ‘rival ideology’ in the past along with the US and the West. The reference was obviously to the Afghan communist regime and the ensuing battle between the mujahideen and the communists after the Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in support of their co-ideologists. President Zardari told Holbrooke that it was because of the Afghan jihad that militancy rose in Pakistan. Though this is certainly not something new for the Americans, the president’s reminder about the West’s role in general and the US’s role in particular in leading to the rise of religious extremism in this region is noteworthy. The covert support of the US for the jihadis in the Afghan war is no secret. It was a policy of…