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Showing posts from April, 2010

Left fortunes

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif raised a very important question while addressing the International Literary and Cultural Conference in Lahore the other day. He pointed out that inequitable and unjust distribution of resources has brought Pakistan to the present pass. Questioning the silence of the intellectuals who had vowed to bring a revolution in the 1970s, he asked the audience, “Where have those left-wing revolutionaries gone?” This is a very valid question and one that we must reflect over.

The world today is in the clutches of strong imperialist forces, the US being the ringleader. When the entire world was hit hard by the recent global recession, everyone started to question the viability of capitalism. It has exposed its limitations as well as its cruel nature, which had been predicted by revolutionary thinkers centuries ago. In the words of Karl Marx, “Apr├Ęs moi le deluge (After me, the deluge) is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation.” Exper…

Where terrorists walk free

One of the founding members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the notorious sectarian outfit, is reportedly going to be set free soon after 13 years. Malik Ishaq, self-confessed hitman of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who himself admitted to a local Urdu daily in October 1997 that he had been “instrumental in the killing of 102 people”, will be a free man if reports are to be believed. The plight of Fida Hussain Ghalvi is even worse than those hundreds of people’s families who have been killed by Malik Ishaq himself or at his behest. Ghalvi lost 12 family members when Ishaq and his seven allies attacked a majlis. Mr Ghalvi has been persistently fighting for justice since the last 13 years. In an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Mr Ghalvi recounted the hardships he has had to face in pursuing this case. From death threats to living a life in isolation, this journey has been an extremely painful one. The news of Ishaq’s release has obviously come as a shock to Mr Ghalvi and many others. It just go…

The sectarian monster

On Friday, we saw Quetta as the scene of a sectarian killing first and then a follow-up suicide bombing. Gunmen killed Arshad Zaidi, a banker, as he was coming out of his office. He was the son of the chief of the Shia Conference Balochistan. Mr Zaidi’s body was taken to a hospital where hundreds of people, including a local parliamentarian and dozens of journalists, reached after hearing the news of this targeted killing. At least 11 people, including a journalist, were killed and dozens more were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the hospital. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. We witnessed a similar modus operandi in Karachi after the attack on the Chehlum procession followed by an attack at the Jinnah Hospital where the injured were taken. It seems as if the sectarian monsters have found another way of inflicting maximum damage.

Like the rest of Pakistan, the scourge of sectarianism has not left Balochistan untouched. Sectarian attacks…

Much more to do

The government and all the political parties in parliament have achieved a historical breakthrough with the passage of the 18th Amendment Bill in the National Assembly. As soon as the Senate passes the Bill, it will become an Act. The Bill has been welcomed by almost all quarters of society. The euphoria surrounding this Bill is justified but it would not be wrong to say that much more needs to be done before it can actually be a cause for real celebration. The government will have a momentous task after the passage of the Bill. According to a news report published in Daily Times, 40 of the 47 subjects in the Concurrent List are to be handed over to the provinces before June 30, 2011, the deadline set in the package.

The framers of the 1973 Constitution had pledged to do away with the Concurrent List after 10 years and implement the clauses dealing with provincial autonomy. That pledge remained unfulfilled and, resultantly, a strong anti-Centre sentiment exists among the smaller provi…

A new beginning

Prime Minister Gilani congratulated the nation on the passage of the 18th Amendment Bill and praised the armed forces for supporting democracy and not interfering in political matters. Apparently, the military establishment has taken a backseat for a change and given enough space to the politicians to settle affairs. This is indeed a turning of the corner as far as civilian-military relations are concerned and a break from the past practices of the military establishment. Two years ago, Prime Minister Gilani had rightfully said that today’s world calls for a new and balanced relationship between the civilian and military institutions, based on mutual respect and dignity. In Pakistan’s context, redefining the contours of the civilian-military relationship is of utmost importance, considering that the country for the most part of its existence has remained in the throes of undemocratic rule because of the conflict emerging between the political and military class. This paved the way for…

Bhutto: a controversial legacy

April 4, 2010, marks 31 years to the day when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged at the behest of a military dictator. Bhutto founded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 1967. The party’s doctrine to date is: “Islam is our faith; democracy is our politics; socialism is our economy; all power to the people.” ZA Bhutto will be remembered for giving a new direction to Pakistani politics by adopting a pro-people discourse of roti, kapra aur makan. This slogan touched a chord with the masses and still reverberates, albeit much more feebly, across the country. The PPP started as a left-leaning political party but somewhere along the line the party lost its way. Whether it can go back to its roots is a question that remains unanswered.

ZA Bhutto has left a controversial legacy. That he was one of the most charismatic and popular leaders of Pakistan cannot be denied. His popularity came about because he gave voice to the masses’ aspirations. Bhutto made the public aware of their rights; with the…

Historic national consensus

In a landmark move, the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms has finally reached a consensus on the draft 18th Amendment bill on March 31. Senator Raza Rabbani, who headed the all parties constitutional reforms committee, handed over the draft to Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza on Thursday. Senator Rabbani said that despite differences of opinion, the members of the committee have proved that “as people’s representatives, they are capable of achieving anything for the sake of the nation”. Dr Mirza was hopeful that the two houses of parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate – would soon pass the bill. She said that the political leadership has proved that parliament is supreme. It would not be wrong to say that this consensus has been the most historic one to date since the 1973 Constitution.

The draft bill would have been finalised on March 25 had it not been for the PML-N’s blunder. Mian Nawaz Sharif’s u-turn earned him a lot of criticism from all the …