Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Miranshah tribesmen demand action against no arrangement of function on Independence Day

The tribesmen in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) have demanded inquiry against the Political Administration of NWA who remained inactive on the day of independence of the country and did not arrange any event on the 14th August to signify the importance of the day. Commenting on the importance of the Independence Day of Pakistan, tribesmen complained that Political Administration officials remained silent on the eve of the important day. They did not bother to arrange any programme of national flag hoisting in the tribal area and were asleep on the Independence Day. They said that not even a single programme was arranged by the Political Administration in any school or college in Miranshah, adding that all the government had arranged colorful programmes on the Independence Day every year but this time the administration officials were asleep on the important day. They demanded of the government to take action against the Political Administration officials who remained inactive on the day of emancipation.

Afghans ‘too settled’ in Pakistan to move back

The Express Tribune
Despite announcement by the federal government, Afghan refugees in Peshawar are not willing to return to their homeland by December 31, 2012 deadline. “Our people are more comfortable here and we have established our businesses here… to leave Pakistan is impossible for us,” said Sardar Wali, who hails from Afghanistan’s Ningahar province. Working at a carpet shop in Karkhano Market, he said that while Afghanistan was their elders’ homeland, Pakistan is the homeland for his generation, adding that he was not ready to leave it. Sardar’s family migrated to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in 1980 during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and settled at the Shamshato Camp. “I was born and brought up in K-P, this is my hometown,” he maintained. Sardar claimed he felt like an alien when he visited Afghanistan. “No one knew me,” he said. Afghan carpet merchant Yousaf said a large number of shopkeepers and businessmen started their business in very difficult conditions. UNHCR Pakistan spokesperson Dunya Aslam Khan told The Express Tribune that currently 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees lived in Pakistan and estimated over a million more were living here unregistered. One million registered refugees live in K-P. She said that so far around seven million had willingly returned to Afghanistan. Talking about the December 31 deadline, she said that according to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the repatriation of refugees would only be voluntary. “Afghan refugees that take part in the voluntary repatriation programme are given $150 per person in order to cover transportation costs and initial costs of settling back home.” Each family will also be given a card that guarantees them financial aid in Afghanistan. Afghan Refugees Commissioner Syed Zaheerul Islam, however, said that after December 31 every Afghan national living in Pakistan would be doing so illegally. He said that voluntary repatriation began on May 25 this year and a large number of Afghans returned to their country. District Coordination Officer Javed Marwat said police have begun searching for illegal foreigners. He also said that the government, Afghan Commissionerate and UNCHR would hold a meeting soon to decide the future of the refugees. The DCO hoped the government would find a mutually beneficial way to return the Afghans to their country.

Pakistan's Swiss letter: Middle way seems impossible

Aitzaz Ahsan said that SC is bound to declare every PM disqualified after verdict against Gilani. Middle way is seldom seen, said PPP leader and member of the Senate. While addressing an Aftar dinner at his residence in Lahore, he suggested that all the institutions should work while remaining within their limits for stability of system and continuity of democracy. He made it clear that if the current prime minister is ousted, he would be replaced by next one. He retrieved that the Supreme Court is bound to declare every prime minister incompetent over refusal on writing letter to Swiss government, adding that middle way seems to be hard and impossible to come into existence, said Aitzaz.

Pakistani President Wants Self-Government In Tribal Regions

President Asif Ali Zardari
has announced the introduction of local self governments in tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan. In a speech on the eve of the country's independence day celebrations, Zardari said that the coming year will see the implementation of the new self-government plan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). "The coming year will be the year of the beginning of self-governance in the tribal areas in accordance with their wishes and their customs and traditions," Zardari said. "We owe this to the people and to the peace and stability of the country and the region to bring these areas into the mainstream of national life." Zardari said his administration initiated unprecedented reforms in the region last year by amending the century-old, colonial-era laws and allowing mainstream political parties to campaign in the tribal areas. Amendments in the region's Frontier Crimes Regulation laws promised some accountability and bringing them on par with modern human rights standards. Violence Persists FATA has been embroiled in conflict during the past decade. Parts of the region are still controlled by Islamist extremists allied with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. T Tens of thousands of Pakistani soldiers continue to be deployed in the region, where many large-scale operations have failed to cleanse Pakistani and international jihadists. Nearly 1 million FATA residents remain displaced by the conflict. The government has done little to address the grievances of thousands of victims of violence in the region. The region's tribes are under immense strain from militants and the security forces. Hundreds of traditional tribal leaders have been either assassinated or chased from their home areas. None of their killers were punished. FATA's status as Pakistan's backwater persists, with health, education, and other human-development indicators among the lowest in Asia.

At 65, it's democracy that separates India from Pakistan

Pakistan completes 65 years of independence and with each passing year, the country looks to be getting more and more enmeshed in the intricacies of deadly politics. India, which will complete its 65 years of independence tomorrow, has experienced a better voyage although that does not conclude that it is a perfect picture.

Pakistan at 65

As the nation celebrates 66th Pakistan's independence day, political instability remains an unrelenting concern. Over the last six-and-a-half decades the country has lurched from one crisis to another mainly due to military adventurists' repeated interruptions in civilian rule. Constitutions were abrogated, draconian laws introduced to suppress the people, and distortions created in the system to suit the purposes of dictators. But the people never stopped aspiring for freedom and democracy. Unlike most other Muslim countries, where until the eruption of the recent wave of pro-democracy movements, authoritarian rule generally remained unchallenged, Pakistanis did not tolerate dictators for long. Of the four military dictators the one most brutal, General Ziaul Haq, lasted 11 years. That though is not to say that the Muslims in the Arab world have less interest in democracy than Pakistanis, only that South Asian traditions are different. While Pakistan is struggling to establish democracy, India with which it shares both its birth date and a large part of history, has gained the distinction of being the world's largest democracy and an emerging economic power. Thanks to the long and hard struggle waged by the people, Pakistan is being run by an elected government, which has almost completed its term. Unfortunately, however, democracy in this country is yet to attain maturity. The ruling classes have continually disappointed the people. At present, the nation faces a serious crisis as the Executive and Parliament are embroiled in a confrontation with the Judiciary. The apex court has sent one prime minister packing on contempt charges for his refusal to comply with its order pertaining to the revival of a money-laundering case involving the President. The incumbent faces the threat of a similar fate triggering fears of a showdown between state institutions. Talking to reporters on Sunday, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani confirmed those fears as he warned that if, like him, Raja Pervez Ashraf, too, is disqualified as member of Parliament and hence prime minister the ruling party would not take the verdict "lying down." Then there is also a perception in some circles that the apex court is overstepping its jurisdiction, and creating unnecessary problems which may harm the entire political edifice. These people have been using the argument of parliamentary supremacy to defend the government's case, and to insist that the President enjoys immunity under the Constitution, therefore the court's orders to write the letter to the Swiss authorities is violative of the Constitution. There are others who point out that as per democratic principles the Constitution rather than Parliament is supreme; and that the apex court has the sole prerogative to interpret the Constitution. Given the country's chequered political history, people are worried that the fight between state institutions might encourage anti-democracy forces to take advantage of the situation. There may be no real basis to such worries. Yet a seemingly hurried or controversial manner in which the proceedings of certain cases are being carried out arguably lends a measure of strength to perceptions - real or perceived, or both. Indeed, perceptions normally are irrelevant to judicial decisions; the courts must decide cases in the light of the law and the Constitution only. However, rigidity is not the rule either; sometimes circumstances of a case are also taken into account to reach a particular decision. In fact, in its own January 9 verdict on the present case, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court had mentioned six options. These were: I) initiating contempt of court proceeding against the chief executive and other officials concerned for not implementing the NRO verdict; II) declaring the chief executive ineligible as member of Parliament; III) formation of a commission by the court to get the verdict implemented; IV) referring to the people to decide the issue; V) initiating contempt proceedings against NAB Chairman; VI) taking action against the President for violating the Constitution. Later, the larger bench hearing the case went for the first and second options. But that has not helped achieve the desired objective. Instead antagonism has exacerbated. Both sides need to act with a greater sense of responsibility and refrain from ratcheting up tensions. The court's directions to the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to find a middle way have not yielded, nor are likely to yield, positive outcome for the simple reason that from the government's standpoint even a halfway solution is unfeasible. Instead of getting bogged down in constitutional technicalities, the court needs to reconsider its own five-member bench's recommended course of action, and apply the third option that called for setting up a commission to write the letter as part of NRO verdict implementation - the root cause of the government-judiciary stand-off. What should matter at this point in time is the end not the means to achieve it. As long as the objective is attainable through a commission, a literal application of the law should be avoidable. This country's turbulent political history calls for calm and calculated decisions aimed at strengthening the democratic system. At 65, Pakistan may be a very young country, but it is old enough to run a strong and stable democracy.

K-Pakhtunkhwa CM hoists national flag to mark independence day

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amir Haider Khan Hoti hoisted the national flag in a colorful gathering organized by City District Government on the occasion of 66th Independence Day at Malik Saad Police-line on Tuesday. Senior Provincial Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Provincial Ministers Mian Iftikhar Hussain, and Haji Hidayatullah, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Syed Masoom Shah Bacha, Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastgeer, IGP, Secretary Administration, Sectary Local Government, Commissioner Peshawar, CCPO, Police Officers and other notables were also present on the occasion. Students’ infused with patriotic sprits, from Municipal College presented the national and patriotic songs and vibrant contingent of police presented the guard of honor. The CM talked intimately to the students and encouraged them. Later he distributed cash prizes among the students and Jwans of police band. Prayers for protection, development and prosperity of the country and peace were offered on the occasion. The CM also laid floral wreath on monuments of police martyrs and offered prayers.

At least 25 killed in northwestern Pakistan clash: military

At least 20 militants and five soldiers were killed when Pakistani forces and a group of militants clashed in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, military officials said. The skirmish, which took place in the Ghaljo area of the northwestern Orakzai tribal region, began when militants ambushed a Pakistani military patrol. Officials said 18 soldiers were wounded in the ambush. The death toll could not be independently verified, and militants often dispute official figures. The Pakistan military has been conducting operations against militants in Orakzai for months. Several militant groups are active in Pakistan's northwestern semi-autonomous tribal regions, near the border with Afghanistan, including the Pakistan Taliban, responsible for many of the bombings across the country in recent years.

Kandahar Women Obtain Driving License

In Kandahar province, for the first time 7 women obtained driving license. Kandahar traffic department chief, Mohammadullah told BNA that the women after attending 6 month training course on driving and successfully passing the exam, received the license.
According to that source, this is the first time, the women in Kandahar province, received this official documents from that province traffic office. He added, if the women’s demand for learning the skills of driving increase, Kandahar traffic office would be ready to establish a driving center with the cooperation of education department in one of high schools, in order the women be trained on safe driving skills by trained, trainers.

Cellphone services blocked in Quetta

Keeping in view the law and order situation on Independence day the provincial government of Balochistan has decided to block all cellphone services in Quetta and its surrounding areas, DawnNews reported. Residents of Quetta and its surrounding areas were facing hardships as services of all cellphone companies remained suspended since early Tuesday. According to security sources the cellphone services had been blocked keeping in view the law and order situation of the province, as it cuts off the communication capabilities of miscreants and terrorists. On the other hand the provincial government has taken strict security measures for the maintenance of law and order, and troops of the Balochistan constabulary in addition to the Frontier Corps personnel were deployed at sensitive and government buildings throughout the city.

66th Independence Day of Pakistan: Challenges

On the 65th anniversary of Pakistan's independence, the best homage to the Muslims of the subcontinent who sacrificed all they had for the creation of a separate homeland under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah would be to sincerely rededicate ourselves as a nation to the ideals of the founding fathers. Pakistan was established as a nation-state with democracy as its polity in which people of Pakistan were to be the sole arbiters of power to be exercised through an elected sovereign parliament. All other institutions were to be subservient to the dictates of parliament. None could over-ride the general will of the people as manifested in the sovereignty of the parliament. Today, Pakistan stands at crossroads of history once again after having established an electoral democracy and supremacy of the parliament. It is a defining moment in its chequered history. The sovereignty of the parliament is being challenged by forces that have been in cahoots in the past in derailing democracy whenever they found it taking firmer roots. Any independent student of Pakistan's history would bear witness to the fact that what is happening in the country is much more of the same that it has suffered since its inception - an unending conspiracy not to allow Pakistan to become a progressive liberal democracy ensuring empowerment of the masses as sole arbiter of power expressed through an elected sovereign parliament not subservient to any other state institution. Our history has been a catalogue of intrigues, conspiracies and extra-constitutional interventions sanctified by the judiciary to convert Pakistan into a security state rather than allow it to get established as a social welfare nation-state. Pakistan was pushed into a roller-coaster existence by the dismissal of the mother parliament by dementia-afflicted Governor General Ghulam Mohammad upheld as legal by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan late Justice Munir when Sindh High Court had declared it illegal and unconstitutional. Same was repeated by Chief Justice Munir when he sanctified first Martial Law under General Ayub Khan. Successive dictators were supported by the Supreme Court for their acts of treason in subversion of the Constitution. The overthrow of the elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto by General Ziaul Haq in July 1977 was once again endorsed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan with Justice Anwarul Haq as Chief Justice. While democracy was in the blood of our people, the Praetorian conspirators receded some what following the awakening of the masses to fight for their democratic rights. As such a new approach was adopted for elimination of popular leaders through judicial support. Its first victim was ZAB who was judicially murdered through a Supreme Court conviction on the basis of 4-3 judgement-four judges from Punjab upholding the conviction while three from the smaller provinces rejecting it. The abuse of judiciary continued ever after. The most popular leader spearheading the movement for the restoration of democracy-Benazir Bhutto and her husband--were embroiled in fabricated cases of corruption and twice PPP government was dismissed through judicial-establishment staged coups against Bhutto. Strangely for the first time the Supreme Court-in the absence of substantive evidence-- accepted as admissible plethora of allegations unleashed by the media at the behest of its invisible wire-pullers and upheld her unconstitutional dismissal by the then President. As a consequence of this orchestrated campaigning against her, rigorous persecution and long incarceration of her husband on unproven charges-she had to spend long years in exile including the long dictatorship of General Musharraf once again sanctified and supported by the apex judiciary. Only civilian exception was former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif who was declared guilty for hijacking and given life imprisonment by the court. He was pardoned by President General Musharraf on foreign intervention and released on ten-year agreement that he would not return to Pakistan. The Supreme Court remained a silent witness to it and did not question General Musharraf's action. His Presidential power to pardon a convicted person was recognised by the Supreme Court on the age-old concept of "King can do no wrong". Despite odds and threats to her life by the dictator, Benazir Bhutto returned to lead the democratic movement. She made a historical return home welcomed by millions of people only to be assassinated by the perpetrators of dictatorship. Benazir's assassination set the entire country on fire. It was saved from sure disintegration by President Zardari when he defused the violent masses by telling them that Benazir Bhutto had laid down her life for saving Pakistan and not destroying it. It was in most challenging circumstances that President Zardari was elected and entrusted with the responsibility of saving Pakistan. He brought the emotionally charged nation back onto a course that was to culminate in the achievement of the cherished destiny of democracy as envisioned by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. President Zardari translated into action the essence of the Charter of Democracy by adopting a policy of national reconciliation and sharing power with all the stakeholders so that there was no room for discontent that provided opportunities for extra-constitutional forces to intervene. This was Bhutto legacy which had spelled that Pakistan could only survive as a democracy ensuring just resolution of the thorny issue of provincial autonomy that had been responsible for the division of the subcontinent in 1947 and break up of Pakistan in 1971. Ever since return of democracy, anti-people forces got into action to derail it. It had a unanimously elected prime minister who had survived a rollercoaster existence with parliament reposing confidence in him on several occasions, including the passage of five budgets as well as standing by him through thick and thin only made to exit what was described by the Wall Street Journal as a "judicial coup". The President, his party PPP and his coalition partners -in order to sustain democracy under threat-accepted the decision of the apex court. In UK and abroad there has been mixed reaction to all that has been happening since. Some leading lawyers and experts have described it as an ominous development not good for the country. The Wall Street Journal called disqualification of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani "unnatural death of another civilian government. While less dramatic than the military variety, this judicial coup...perpetuates the cycle of unelected institutions "rescuing" Pakistanis from their own chosen leaders." The Wall Street Journal's conclusion should serve as food for thought for the democratic forces to act above self interests. It says: "Having stepped in to overthrow so many civilian Presidents, the judiciary and military view coups as their prerogative and even duty. If there's a silver lining, it's that this time democratically elected leaders managed to stay in power for an impressive four years..." with "coup-makers felt constrained by public revulsion at a return to military rule." All through since 2008 all machinations to derail the electoral system were countered effectively by democratic forces who have made it clear that they would not be a party to any extra-constitutional intervention nor would they accept a judicial coup. After all Pakistan had suffered an irreparable loss by the judicial murder of a prime minister and Praetorian coups in the past. They were opposed tooth and nail to repetition of the previous mistakes to avoid being condemned by history. At this defining moment the existing Parliament-having to its credit 18th, 19th and 20th amendments-should not allow to go in vain untold sacrifices in blood in thousands at the hands of dictatorial forces. It must pass yet another amendment prohibiting criticising democracy as a failed system much in the manner constitution protects the armed forces and judiciary. The nation has had enough of extra-constitutional interventions initiated by the Praetorian, civilian and judicial bureaucratic troika that had constantly played foul with the Quaid's vision of a democratic and egalitarian Pakistan. The best tribute to martyrs of freedom movement would be for all the democratic forces to unite and oppose all ongoing conspiracies to derail democracy, challenging the supremacy and sovereignty of parliament.

Pak Hindu family arrives in Attari, to seek asylum

A six-member Hindu family from Sibi in Pakistan's Baluchistan district arrived in Attari near Amritsar to seek asylum in India on Monday. A teary-eyed Mukesh Kumar, the family head, said they were forced to leave due to the harassment meted out to the community. "AK-47 wielding motorcyclists often come to shops of Hindus and demand huge money and often plunder our houses," he said. Mukesh sold off his house and other belongings before leaving Pakistan. "We have no problem with Pakistan but with people," Mukesh said at the Attari international railway station. He said his relatives in Pakistan may follow suit. "My relatives are there and could be harassed but I had to save my family. My relatives might also leave Pakistan one day." Mukesh said hundreds of Hindu families are looking to emigrate. He said he would go to Indore, where his cousin lives, and seek his help. Mukesh, who used to run a grocery shop in Sibi, said Pakistani immigration officials were suspicious about their visit and made them sign an undertaking, saying they were not harassed in Pakistan and would return. Mukesh's wife, Suman Devi, said they decided to leave Pakistan after kidnappers killed one of their relatives after the family failed to pay ransom for his release. "The police did not even register a case. I am not going back to Pakistan." Mukesh's daughter Pranjal Pari (8) is unaware that the family has left its home forever but does not want to go back to her school. "I am never allowed to play with other girls. I am always alone in school."

Afghanistan-Pakistan border fighting erupts in Kunar

There is heavy fighting between Afghan and Pakistani forces in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, which borders Pakistan, Afghan officials say. Fighting started at around 0400 (0030 GMT) following an attack on a border police commander's convoy, according to border police sources. According to Afghan officials in Kunar, one border policeman was killed and five were injured. The Afghan authorities have since sent hundreds of troops to the area. The attack was from the Pakistani side of the border in the area of Binshay, Dangam District, Afghan police say. Afghan officials in Kunar province have told the BBC that both sides have been using heavy and small weapons and a Dangam District tribal elder said the fighting was ongoing. The border district of Dangam lies 40km (25 miles) east of the provincial capital. Afghan officials have in the past accused Pakistan's military of firing the rockets across the border - a claim Pakistan denies. The Governor of Kunar Province, Fazullah Waheedi, says that in the past three months there have been 3,160 cross border attacks in five districts, killing eight people and wounding 25. Earlier this month, the Afghan parliament dismissed the country's defence and interior ministers over alleged security failures, including the shelling of Afghan territory from Pakistan.

Pakistan: Call to protect minorities as per Jinnah’s vision

The Hindu community organisations and civil society have resolved that on the eve of 65th day of independence there is a need that government should respect the rights of minorities
and their lives and properties should be protected as promised by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his speech on August 11, 1947 in which he clearly mentioned that political affairs shall be separated from religious matters. In a letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, the Hindu Panchiat handed over it to the members of parliamentary committee formed by the President. Hindus representative organisations disclosed that in the last couple of months, more than two dozen minor children, traders, shopkeepers and businessmen were reportedly kidnapped for ransom and more than 700 families have reportedly migrated to India and Southeast Asian countries. The three-member committee comprising Federal Minister Senator Maula Bux Chandio and Senator Hari Ram met with the representative organisations of Hindus. The Hindu Panchiat, Young Hindu Association and other Hindu Community organisations and members of civil society and human rights organisations including Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), Sindh Human Rights Council (SHRC) and MRER in their letter to the President have appreciated his strict notice of the concerns and disbelief faced by the Hindus residing in Sindh and welcomed the move of the formation of a three-member committee in order to address the issues and grievances faced by the minority. The letter of Hindus’ representative organisations, a copy of which is available with TheNation, called for an ethno-religious harmony and demanded that it was more than a committee that was required to protect. The community and civil society called for the establishment of committee as a move of displaying solidarity and looking forward to ensuring the best possible protection. They said that unfortunately the level of threats that include non-safety of life and property, forced conversion of minor girls, kidnapping for ransom are too high and show disappointment on insufficient steps taken the federal and provincial governments to address the above mentioned threats and grievances faced by the minorities at large. Community representatives and civil society further said that in the last couple of months, more than two dozen minor children, traders, shopkeepers and businessmen were reportedly kidnapped for ransom and over 700 families have reportedly migrated to India and Southeast Asian countries in a few months due to insecure and unsafe future of their families and businesses. Registration of fake cases and pressure of local influential people are a routine threat to them. Extortion is another crime happening and the Hindus are bound to pay this amount in different parts of the province. Community representatives and civil society leaders appealed to the president that the Hindu community had done a lot to develop the socio-economic landscape of Sindh and Pakistan, and all their hopes are attached with the land and this hope should not be shattered and it is government’s fundamental responsibility to protect its citizens from all kinds of exploitation and discrimination. Today, hundreds of thousands from this patriotic community feel alienated and feel like strangers in their homeland. No religion has allowed its followers to convert others by force. Then how can its followers indulge in such wrong conduct? They said that if PPP is serious to resolve this issue, it first should ask their legislators to stop harassing Hindus and stop their forced conversion of Hindu girls. The PPP should promise to the community that in the coming elections, party tickets would not be issued to anti-minority and especially anti-Hindu people. And severe actions should be taken against those who are directly involved in the crimes against Hindu community. Community representatives and civil society leaders’ showed concern over unfair trial of Rinkle Kumari in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It was resolved that as per the spirit of 18th Amendment, evacuate property trusts should be immediately handed over to the respective provincial governments and all the historic and religious sites and places of Hindu community should be protected like other religious places. They said decades of religious extremism; collapse of judiciary and law enforcement agencies; commercialisation of political parties in the country especially in Sindh has created an environment where various religious, gender, and ethnic minority groups are thrown under serious vulnerability.


Both the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly passed resolutions for creation of provinces of Junobi Punjab and Bahawalpur bifurcating Punjab into three Provinces. The President of Pakistan sent a directive to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Senate to appoint a 14 members committee for demarcation of boundaries of Junobi Punjab and distribution of assets and liabilities. Almost every thing is set but the PML-N and the Punjab Assembly Speaker had not sent their nominees to the Committee. PML-N is supposed to three MNAs and the Punjab Assembly Speaker two nominees for the committee. Now a senior leader of the PML-N is demanding that separate Hazara province should also be created. PML-N is committing a blunder by obstructing the creation of Seraiki Province on the eve of fresh general elections. The Seraiki people will be offended besides those in Central Punjab supporting the demand. It means it will be a walk over to the PPP in the Seraiki belt if elections are held soon. Secondly, top leaders from Dera Ghazi Khan are also deserting the party. They may join the PPP or any other party denying a huge vote bank to the PML-N in Southern Punjab. Thus the PML-N is committing a blunder and giving a walk over to the PPP in the next general elections. In any case, the vote bank of PML-N in the Central Punjab is divided with the PPP, PTI and other smaller parties ending the prospects that the PML-N will form the next provincial Government in Lahore.

Pakistan: Backlash against the judiciary

Ousted Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani has delivered a strongly worded message to our overactive judiciary. He says if another PM is ousted in similar fashion, the PPP will not take it lying down and will resist, since it considers the repetition of such a move would be tantamount to destabilising, dividing, and arguably disintegrating the country. He went on to sarcastically remark that if the judiciary wants to take all the decisions, we should dissolve parliament, send all the elected representatives home, and let the judiciary take charge of the government. He said he had appeared before the judiciary as a mark of respect, but this was not reciprocated. He accepted the court’s decision for the sake of democracy and the country, he added. He left the question of appearance before the Supreme Court on its summons to his successor, Raja Pervez Ashraf’s judgement. It was time, Gilani argued, for the judiciary to correct past mistakes such as the ‘doctrine of necessity’, which contributed to the disintegration of Pakistan in 1971. The judiciary was not a political party, he continued, and therefore should not have (or be seen to have) any political agenda. The judiciary’s activism could trigger an intervention by a ‘third force’, he warned. The contempt law was only being used against politicians who respected the verdicts of the judiciary, and not against those elements or forces that didn’t give two hoots for its orders. He said further that he would suggest to the PPP a train march from Lahore to Karachi in support of the supremacy of parliament, and implied that if even that did not work, the party would resort to street protests and take the matter to the people. The MQM chief Altaf Hussain has added his voice to those troubled by the present scenario of confrontation between the government and the judiciary. Addressing a rally of his party in Karachi, Altaf Hussain appealed to both sides to ‘accept’ each other and reconcile for the sake of democracy and the country. And in an interesting aside, the country that gave the contempt of court law to the world, dating from the 14th century, the UK, is contemplating repealing it and modifying it to match modern day requirements. Unlike Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s contention that the concept of the supremacy of parliament inherited from Britain was ‘out of date’, the country that is considered the mother of all parliaments finds the ancient contempt law actually out of date. The reasoning behind the proposal is both conceptual as well as based on the experience gained from practice. The contempt law as it stands in the UK has not been used since the 1930s. And yet the judiciary in the UK is held in the highest esteem. That is because the prudence and restraint within the parameters of the law practiced by it has helped over time to accord it the respect and dignity it deserves. Our judiciary too could take a leaf or two out of the book of the British judiciary. Unfortunately, as former PM Gilani also pointed out, our judiciary has a great deal to rectify on the basis of its track record. Endorsing military coups and justifying usurpers of power, taking oaths under PCOs and allowing military dictators to amend the constitution at their whim and will are all wrongs that need to be relegated to a closed chapter. The defiance of the will of a military dictator by Chief Justice Chaudhry galvanised the country in a movement that finally led to the ushering in of democracy (albeit with the tragic loss of Benazir Bhutto along the way) and the exit of General Musharraf. The restored and increasingly independent judiciary has high hopes of the people riding on it. This is a great responsibility, but it must and can only be fulfilled by adhering not only to the letter of the law, but also its spirit and élan. Unfortunately, the perception is growing of partisanship by the present restored judiciary. This is not only bad for the incumbents, it could cause permanent damage to the respect and dignity of the judicial institution. The best course under the circumstances, before the growing backlash against the judiciary assumes critical mass, would be to exercise judicial restraint and try to find solutions to the impasse with the government that best suits the interests of the country and the fraught circumstances in which it finds itself at present.

Pakistan: Not a lost cause

It is so saddening when on this day of immense rejoicings and gaieties, one has to mix joy with a sense of gloom every year over the past so many years. The gloom is what our founding fathers had visualised of us and what has actually become of us. Jinnah’s Pakistan was to be a place of mutual tolerance, accommodation, understanding and harmony. It was to be the abode of a moderate, forward-looking, egalitarian polity. Instead what has it become needs no elaboration; it is not even a poor parody of the founding fathers’ dream. But not all black it was, always. When Pakistan was in infancy, its citizenry with tremendous fervour and zeal collectively embarked on the gigantic task of nation-building and gave a lie to the doomsayers. From a scratch, state institutions were built into vibrant entities. The public sector and private enterprise teamed up to raise a strong industrial base to a land that had known no manufacturing existence worth the name. Its entrepreneurial class founded a booming services sector. Its hardworking peasantry with its toil and sweat rid the new nation of chronic food shortages and took it to autarky in food and surpluses in food grains and cash crops for exports to earn the country valuable foreign exchange. Not just that. Human development saw remarkable progress, with increased educational and health facilities and social services. And infrastructure saw a massive development in every segment and every field. In short, Pakistan was well on its way to becoming what the founding fathers had dreamt of it. It had gained a name in the world community. It commanded respect in the comity of nations. Globally, it was recognised as a dignified nation. But then in the midstream the nation somehow lost its way and fell on bad times. And the regret is that it is still to recoup its lost gains and reverse the downward slide it is entangled in over the past so many years. The political class blames the praetorian generals. It is their not-infrequent interventions that have brought the nation to such a sorry pass, assert the politicos. The generals blame the political tribe. It is inherent incapability of the political class for which the country is in the throes of difficulties, insist the generals. But the bland fact is that both are responsible in equal measure. Both the praetorian generals and the political clans have betrayed the citizens and let the nation down. And the dismay is that no leader is in sight to pull the nation out of the morass it has slipped into so irretrievably. The nation at this point in time needs imperatively leaders of great vision, wisdom and statesmanship to lead and guide it to the destiny the founding fathers had envisioned for Pakistan. But to its utter misfortune it has the eminences swaggering on the national political landscape that are no tall figures but mere pygmies. They are just chicaners and professional operators who on their tongues have, not the nation’s economic progress or its security, stability and solidarity, but just petty politics. But Pakistan is definitely not at all a lost cause. Its guarantors and the guarantee are those predominantly impoverished, downtrodden and deprived 180 million people, whom the political elites have reduced into mere irrelevancies and redundancies. Yet they have an abiding faith in the destiny of Pakistan. It may have fallen on difficult times. But they have full trust that it will rebound one day and regain its place of dignity and honour in the comity of nations. It is their trust that is sustaining the country in its dire tribulations. It is their trust that is scoffing at the doomsday predictions of this country’s inveterate enemies and the compulsive cynics at home and abroad. And the miracles have not ceased happening, either, even in these times. It is not unimaginable if a real leader with vision does surface from some obscure niche one day to take the rudderless polity to its destined greatness and glory. Gloom, after all, cannot be eternal. It can only be transient and just fleeting. It cannot be darkness for the nation for ever. Sunshine will certainly come to Pakistan, sooner or later. And with this abiding faith in Pakistan’s destiny, we wish our valued readers a very, very happy Independence Day

'Democracy best type of government to resolve issues'

Associated Press of Pakistan
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf
on Tuesday said democracy is the best type of government and a strong democratic set up could resolve all the issues and ensure progress and prosperity in the country, Addressing a flag hoisting ceremony here at Convention Centre, in connection with 66th independence day the Prime Minister said, "The freedom movement is a best example of democratic and constitutional struggle which proved to nations of the world that democracy is embedded in blood of Muslims." He said democracy is the best type of government and all issues of Pakistan and existence of Pakistan are associated with it. Congratulating the Pakistanis living inside the country and abroad on the occasion of 66th Independence Day, the Prime Minister said on this day when Muslims of sub-continent under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam succeeded in achieving freedom and Pakistan emerged on map of the world as an independent and sovereign country. He said leaders like Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed undertook an exemplary struggle for restoration of democracy in Pakistan and to ensure rights of people and lighted the beacon of democracy by laying down their lives. "We are proud that in the last four years we made prominent achievements and with the grace and benevolence of Allah today roots of democracy are strong in Pakistan," he said. The Prime Minister said it will be not undue to give credit of the success to visionary leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari. He said this is a matter of satisfaction that the present democratic government achieved important milestones in political, social and economic progress of the dear country, which propped the national economy. Extending an offer of dialogue to all political parties for reconciliation and hold fair, free and impartial elections, the Prime Minister hoped that the political leaders by realizing national responsibility would cooperate with the government. He said opposition has an important role in any democratic system and the government has given importance to the positive role of opposition. The Prime Minister said for holding an impartial and transparent next general election, "we are taking the opposition into confidence, and for this we have taken a start from the consensus appointment of Chief Election Commissioner." He said, "We want an impartial and transparent election, so that transfer of power takes place in a democratic way, which would be a big success for the continuity of democracy in the country." He expressed the hope that all the political parties will fully participate in the next general elections and will play their role for the continuity of democracy. He said the government has accepted all the criticism with patience, because it does not believe in confrontation. "We are following the policy of reconciliation according to the vision of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and our objective is to promote the environment of understanding and harmony in the country," he said. The Prime Minister said, "We want that the opposition, instead of criticizing the government, come up with positive suggestions through constructive approach, so that the process of development can continue in the country." He said the government believes in useful dialogue with the opposition on all issues of national importance including the formation of a care-taker government, so that important national issues are resolved through consensus, democratic values and mutual understanding are promoted in the country, and the supremacy of democracy is ensured.

Pakistan’s future lies in continuation of democracy

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf
on Tuesday said that democracy was the most effective system and that the future of Pakistan depended on it, DawnNews reported. Addressing the August 14 flag hoisting ceremony at the Convention Centre Islamabad, Prime Minister Ashraf said that the Pakistan movement was a perfect example of a democratic and constitutional struggle for independence. He said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had sacrificed their lives for their democratic ideas. The prime minister said that the democratically-elected government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had achieved several financial and political targets. Prime Minister Ashraf said that “although, I come from a humble background and was an ordinary worker of the PPP, my party chose me for the top most public office of the country…I am proud of it and thankful to the party.” He moreover said that the problem in Balochistan was that the province’s issues had not been addressed properly by the previous governments. “Balochistan domicile holders can now work in the federal government…we have taken steps to negotiate with the Baloch leadership and we hope that all parties in the province would take part in the next elections,” the premier said. “Baloch people are patriotic people…but the government would sternly deal with those who with the help of foreign agencies are involved in acts of terrorism,” the prime minister reiterated. He said that devolution of powers to the provinces through the passage of the 18th Amendment was a significant step taken by the government. Prime Minister Ashraf said that for the first time in the country’s history and under the PPP-led coalition government, elected representatives had been included in the formulation of the country’s foreign policy. He said that the government wanted the resolutions to the issues of Afghanistan and Kashmir in accordance with the United Nations’ resolutions. Speaking on minority rights in the country, the prime minister said that the government had taken various steps to socially and financially facilitate religious minorities. The prime minister concluded his speech by congratulating the people on the country’s 66th Independence Day.

PPP-led government achieves all vital targets

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said democracy took firm footing in the country during the last four years of the incumbent government, as it achieved significant targets in economic and social sectors. Addressing the flag-hoisting ceremony at Jinnah Convention Centre held here in connection with the Independence Day, here, he detailed on the success story of the current government, saying the foreign remittances exceeded 13 billion dollars. Elaborating on the government’s stance over terrorism, the Prime Minister noted the terrorism is a menace and the government is resolved to eradicate it from the country before long. Apprising the nation of the government’s handling of Balochistan issue, the PM Raja stressed youths of the province are being given thousands of jobs and full-fledged efforts have been made to bring the offended leaders of the province towards table-talk.