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Showing posts from May, 2010

Brutal assault on the Ahmedis

May 28th, 2010, will be etched in history as ‘Black Friday’ for Pakistan. On the day that the country was celebrating ‘Yaum-e-Takbeer’ to commemorate the 12th anniversary of Pakistan going nuclear, Lahore witnessed two deadly terror attacks against the Ahmediyya community. Terrorists carried out simultaneous attacks on the Ahmedis’ places of worship – Baitul Noor in Model Town and Darul Zikr in Garhi Shahu – during Friday prayers when thousands of Ahmedis had gathered there. It was surreal to see the images unfolding on our television screens when the terrorists went inside the two houses of prayer and unleashed their terror on the innocent worshippers. More than 90 people died while more than a hundred others were injured. The Punjab wing of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Wielding guns, wearing suicide vests and with hand grenades at their disposal, the terrorists launched well coordinated attacks subsequently leading to a standoff for…

Extraordinary times

Hafiz Saeed’s acquittal has not surprised many people but disappointment over the Supreme Court’s verdict can be acutely felt, more so in India than in Pakistan. “There is a sense of disappointment…especially when we regard Hafiz Saeed as one of the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attacks and he has openly urged jihad against India,” said Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao. The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Lahore High Court’s decision to free Saeed from house arrest by dismissing the appeals by the federal and Punjab governments. The court cited lack of evidence for dismissing the appeals. Saeed is the notorious chief of a banned terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), which is now working under the garb of a ‘charity organisation’ called the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). The acquittal not only points at the lacunae in our justice system but it also affects the Pak-India dialogue process.

It is apparent that since the prosecution’s case was rather weak, the court’s hands w…

Better sense prevails

Those who were waiting with bated breath to witness a showdown between the executive and the judiciary on May 25 were in for a disappointment. Law Minister Babar Awan appeared before a five-member Supreme Court bench that is overseeing the implementation of the NRO judgement. Mr Awan informed the bench that there has never been any case against President Zardari or late Benazir Bhutto in the Swiss courts. He informed the apex court that only investigations were conducted in a Swiss court against the president but there was “absolutely no case” against him. As for approaching the Swiss authorities, Mr Awan said there are “grey areas and legal intricacies” involved. What came as a surprise for everyone was the revelation that the bench had never summoned the law minister in the first place. The Supreme Court directed Mr Awan to submit a report within two weeks on the steps taken by the government to implement the NRO verdict. So, what could be the reason for this soft approach despite w…

Avoiding confrontation

Prime Minister Gilani has assured Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry that the PPP-led government respects the judiciary and will fully cooperate with the courts in all matters. The prime minister telephoned the chief justice and promised that the government would honour the verdicts of the judiciary. Chief Justice Chaudhry in turn assured the premier that the judiciary will work in accordance with the constitution. The prime minister does not want a collision between the executive and the judiciary, as it will only harm the democratic process. It must be said here that Prime Minister Gilani has tried to defuse tension between the judiciary and the government many a time in the past. The latest tension comes amidst speculations about what will happen when the federal Law Minister, Dr Babar Awan, appears before the Supreme Court on May 25. The apex court has summoned the law minister to hear the government’s stand on why the NRO verdict has not been implemented so far, the bone of contenti…

A case of skewed priorities

The federal government’s decision to raise the defence budget by 31 percent for the fiscal year 2010-11 comes as no surprise given the current circumstances. Pakistan is in a state of war. The terrorist networks are gaining strength with every passing moment, thus it is imperative that the defence mechanism be made stronger to counter terrorist threats. But the point worth pondering is, should the defence expenditure be increased at the cost of the social sector? Budget-making is indeed a difficult task, more so in a country like Pakistan with so many pressing priorities competing for scarce resources. Most of the national budget goes to defence and debt, and only a meagre allocation is made for the social sector.

For the most part of our history, we have followed an India-centric defence policy. Since India and Pakistan came into being, their relations have been marred by a hostile stance over a number of issues, Kashmir being the core issue. That left them with little choice but to…

A looming disaster

There have been voices emanating from Washington for quite some time now that Pakistan should launch a military offensive in North Waziristan, especially after Faisal Shahzad attempted to bomb Times Square. White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta were recently in Pakistan to discuss this issue, among other things. Pakistan’s foreign office responded by saying that “be it the tribal areas or any other part, Pakistan will proceed in accordance with its own priorities and plans”. It seems as if the US too has taken the same line now. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen maintained that it was up to the Pakistan Army and the government to decide the timing of the offensive since the military was already “stretched” by operations in other tribal areas.

The question on everyone’s mind now is when Pakistan will actually launch the military operation in North Waziristan. Of course we do not …

Face the music, Mr Musharraf

Prime Minister Gilani and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif have called upon General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to appear before the Supreme Court. They demanded that since the former president has decided to come back to Pakistan, he must appear before the apex court and face the music. In the not-so-distant past, ‘Go Musharraf go’ slogans were quite popular but now we are witnessing something quite the opposite. Not only does Mr Musharraf himself want to come back to Pakistan but his political opponents want him back as well, albeit for different reasons.

General (retd) Musharraf is planning a comeback to re-launch his political career. “Whenever the next elections are held, whether they are end-term or mid-term, I will return to Pakistan before that,” said the former president. In August 2008, Musharraf decided to step down from the presidency after his popularity hit rock bottom and all the houses of parliament (including the provincial assemblies) passed unanimous resolutions for him to dep…

Shocking revelations

An audiotape doing the rounds in the cyber world has taken the country by storm. One of the country’s top anchors and a prominent journalist, Hamid Mir, while talking to an alleged Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) member, made shocking comments about various things. A transcript of the conversation was published in Daily Times yesterday. The conversation took place a few days before Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI official, was killed last month by a militant group going by the name of the ‘Asian Tigers’. Some are speculating if Mir’s indiscretions played a role in Khawaja’s murder.

There should be a thorough investigation into the matter by the security agencies. It should first be ascertained whether it was actually Hamid Mir or an impersonator on the audiotape. If it is indeed a genuine transcript, Mir’s credentials should come under the scanner. Considering the fact that Mir is a very influential TV anchor, it comes as a surprise that he seems to be involved in murky areas where most…

Hamid Mir's e-mail

Text of Hamid Mir's e-mail on PressPakistan google group:

Dear All,

Thank you very much for your support. Today publisher of Daily Times and Governor Punjab Salman Taseer created a new record in the history of yellow journalism by publishing a one sided tape drama scandle against me.I would like to remind my journalist colleagues that Salman Taseer published many dirty articles against me in the past when i was banned by Musharraf regime on tv.Today he published the transcript of a concocted tape with some comments on the front page of his newspaper.Yes he tried to kill many birds with one bullet.

This is a conspiracy against me.Khalid Khawaja was assassinated in the month of April and this tape surfaced in the middle of May just few days before some important political and leagal events.I am consulting with my lawyers and i will go into court against Salman Taseer for publishing a one sided concocted story against me.My hands are clear and i have no fear except Allah who have pro…

Harbouring jihadis in our midst

The arrest of Faisal Shahzad after an attempted car bomb attack in Times Square has landed Pakistan in hot water. On the one hand, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning us of dire consequences if there is a successful attack in the US in future that can be traced back to Pakistan and on the other, General Petraeus keeps praising us for our anti-terror efforts. This ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine being enacted by the US is not fooling anyone. We know that the US means business; thus it is time to introspect.

After Shahzad’s arrest, the American authorities carried out raids in Boston, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. They have arrested two Pakistani men suspected of providing money to Shahzad in connection with the Times Square bombing. It seems as if Shahzad was not a ‘lone wolf’ after all and there were others working with him from within the US and outside. US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the American authorities believe the Pakistani Taliban were behind thi…

New challenges for Britain

David Cameron is Britain’s new prime minister after Gordon Brown stepped down this Tuesday. Mr Cameron accepted the Queen’s invitation to form a new government when Mr Brown submitted his resignation to her. The Conservative Party will form a government with the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems). Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems, is the new deputy prime minister. It is quite refreshing to see democratic norms being followed in an old, established parliamentary democracy. Power was transferred to Mr Cameron in a smooth and civilised manner so as to respect the mandate of the electorate. A struggle for democracy is still going on in Pakistan, thus we must learn a few lessons from the mother of all parliaments, Westminster, especially the fact that the real sovereign are the people. In Pakistan, things might not have been the same in a similar situation given our penchant for palace intrigues.

Given that there is a great ideological divide between the Tories and the Lib Dems, it was quite …

A dire threat

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has threatened that if a future terror attack against the US is traced back to Pakistan, there will be “severe consequences”. Ms Clinton’s statement, given in an interview to CBS, comes on the heels of the failed bombing attempt in Times Square. The accused, Faisal Shahzad, is a naturalised American citizen of Pakistani origin. “I think that there was a double game going on in the previous years, where we got a lot of lip-service but very little produced,” was how Ms Clinton described the previous regime’s double-faced stance on taking out the militants. She appreciated the incumbent government’s cooperation and commitment but said that the US “wants and expects more”. Though Ms Clinton tried to water down her ‘warning’ by praising Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terror, the subtext of her statement cannot be ignored. In fact, the threat is very serious.

The US has not made any bones about how seriously it takes threats to its internal secu…

Confounding results

After more than three decades, Britain will have a hung parliament after the recently held general elections. Prime Minister Gordon Brown will remain in power until a new government is formed. The Conservatives have managed to get 306 seats, the Labour Party has bagged 258 seats, while the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) won 57 seats. The verdict of the elections has confounded the analysts, forecasters and experts. To form a government, 326 seats are needed in the 650-member House of Commons. No party has a clear majority, which is why it will be the first time after 1974 that a coalition government will be formed in Britain. None of the coalition governments have been successful in the past and fresh elections had to be held each time. The only party that is sure to be in the government this time will be the Lib Dems, though they have not fared as well as was expected. Both the Conservatives and the Labour Party are bidding to woo Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems. According to latest…