The Baloch Hal
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
http://www.nytimes.comEVERY four years Americans are reminded that presidential politics is raw, nasty and rough-and-tumble. We yearn for the time to pass quickly, for the votes to be cast, for the sniping to end, for life to return to normal. For Afghans, things are starkly and sadly different. During my latest visit to Afghanistan, a few weeks ago, I spoke with government officials, tribal leaders, intellectuals and ordinary citizens. Nearly all worried that too little time remained to properly prepare for a presidential election by the spring of 2014, and they feared that if the election is seen as illegitimate, it could start a civil war. Their fears are rooted in Afghanistan’s history, and they make sense today. Afghanistan is still a fractured country, divided principally among four main ethnic groups, each of which speaks a different language; in addition, it is split among urban and rural interests, modernizing and traditional attitudes, and various political groups that churn these differences. President Hamid Karzai was re-elected in a flawed election in 2009, as was the current Parliament in 2010. A peaceful, democratic transfer of power would be a first for a modern Afghan chief executive: six were deposed between 1973 and 1992, and of those, five were killed. Yet there are reasons to hope for a viable election, if election preparations accelerate immediately. Despite the significant electoral fraud in past elections, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission is gaining experience and showing increasing competence. With assistance from the international community, and if politicians allow it to do its job, it can do the technical work required to deliver fair elections. But only one politician can truly assure the commission’s independence and success: Hamid Karzai. He is a courageous man with whom I have met several times, although not on this last trip. He cannot seek re-election, and so he stands in a perfect position now to secure his place in Afghan history by insuring that future elections will be more fair and credible than past ones have been. The decisions Mr. Karzai makes now, including his appointments of electoral commissioners and his deference to the commission’s work, will be the last and truest test of his statesmanship. As a politician and a citizen, he will have every right to campaign for his preferred candidate. But as the country’s chief executive, he has a duty to act now to ensure a fair election whose results are broadly accepted. So he should consult with opposition figures on the naming of the next electoral commissioners, and appoint a commission that is widely perceived to be balanced and impartial. That would show an early and decisive commitment to a truly democratic election. As for the United States, its current policy is, correctly, to insist on a fair electoral process without taking sides in the contest. But that goal must be pursued more urgently. The Afghans I spoke to felt strongly that the United States should already be pressing the government and the international community for a final plan for fair elections; it should also provide the necessary support to guarantee its execution. The Afghans I spoke to acknowledged that strong American pressure might be denounced as interference with Afghanistan’s sovereign rights. But for the vast majority of Afghans, they argued, anything less than forceful, visible American leadership would be viewed as tacit United States support for an electoral process that gives unfair advantages to some ethnic groups or individuals. “Existential stakes trump niceties,” said one Afghan political activist, noting that the United States and its allies are currently responsible for the major part of Afghanistan’s security and economy. The options facing Afghanistan and its allies are stark. Unless a credible election legitimizes a successor to Mr. Karzai, Afghanistan’s fragile political order will most likely implode, followed by the disintegration of its security forces, a renewal of harsh civil war and the resurgence of Taliban forces. These threats explain why both the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by the Afghan and United States governments in May and the Mutual Accountability Framework agreed upon by Afghanistan and numerous donors in Tokyo in July made clear that future aid for Afghanistan will depend upon successful elections and improved democratic governance. Under those agreements, rigging the elections or failing to hold them would almost certainly lead to sharp reductions in foreign aid, which could in turn wreak havoc with Afghanistan’s economy and add to political instability and armed conflict. A great deal of technical work will have to be done, in not much time, to correct serious problems with the voter registry and to assure both security and a level political playing field. Mostly, what Afghans need now is forceful leadership from their president to let them fairly choose his successor. Given Afghanistan’s history, such an achievement would be heroic. Mr. Karzai should be that hero.
Pakistan will take on Australia in do or die encounter today for a place in World T20 semi-finals. Pakistan in dire need to beat Australia in their last match of Super Eights stage and that too with a big margin to make sure a place in the semi-finals of the mega event. Pakistan team participated in a net practice session in Colombo on the eve of the crucial match. Pakistan captain is optimistic about his team’s victory in today’s match. He said that the team has learnt from their mistakes during match against India and will not repeat these mistakes. On the other hand, Australian captain, George Bailey has said that his team will maintain its unbeaten record in the World T20.
http://www.brecorder.comRenowned Pakistani film industry hero Waheed Murad 64th birth anniversary was observed Tuesday. Waheed Murad was born on October 2, 1938 in Karachi. He acted in 123 feature films and earned 32 awards for his unmatchable performance. Wahid Murad started his film career by producing a film named "Insan Badalta Hey". As an actor he started his film career from SM Yousaf's film "Aulad". Then came "Daman" in which he played second hero opposite Neelo with Sabiha and Santosh in the main lead. He appeared as lead hero in a Heera Aur Pathar opposite Zeba. He also gave some memorable performances in Punjabi films such as Mastana Mahi, Ishq Mera Naan, Sayyo Ni Mera Mahi, Akh Lari Badobadi and Jogi. Waheed Murad got married to Salma, daughter of a Karachi-based industrialist on 17 September 1964. Murad's famous films included "Mamta", "Saaz Aur Awaz", "Honhar", "Jaag Utha Insaan", Dewar Bhabi, Insaniyat, Phir Subha Hogi, Maan Baap, Jan-e-Arzoo, Samandar, Dil Mera Dharkan Teri, Jahan Tum Wahan Hum, Ishara, Saalgira. He died on November, 23, 1983 and his death left many eyes brimming with tears. His death created such a vacuum in the Pakistani film industry that is not still filled.
THE FRONTIER POSTThis charade must come to an end. For long, it has been played rather cunningly. The politicos across the spectrum contend that the agencies interfere in politics. And their tirade is endorsed variously by segments of the chattering classes and the commentariat. And as the upcoming general election is coming closer, this cacophony is getting louder with the day. But since the insinuation comes straight from the horses’ mouths, there must be a lot of grain of truth to it. But are the politicos as innocent as they pretend to be? Are they not an equal complicit in the political games that the agencies play? Had not some political grandees fallen to the ISI’s bait to become part of its political engineering works, would have been an IJI conglomeration there? It would have been not, irrefutably. Had not a Muslim League faction, Jamaat-e-Islami and late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan’s political formation teamed up to make up a civilian cabinet of Gen. Ziaul Haq, would that military ruler have been able to give a political face to his most brutal and repressive dictatorship in the country’s history? Certainly, not. And had not some politicos been willing to become part of a political caboodle going under the banner of Pakistan Muslim League (Q), wouldn’t military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf been left bereft of a king’s party to give spurious political props to his autocracy? He would have been. There indeed is a very dexterous skullduggery to this whole prattle of the agencies’ interference in politics. It skips over the role of the politicos in this venture. Surely, they are no toddlers that a nanny can lead with a finger in hand to wherever she wants. Nor are they sitting ducks, upon whom the agencies pounce and poach the way they want. They are grown up people, masters of their wills, and their own decision makers. If the agencies succeed in recruiting from amongst the politicos for their political projects, that clearly means that the political class has shoals of willing recruits in its folds. It has in its ranks people with the avarice for savouring the plums of office and the bounties of power. And they are the ones ready to sell their souls to satiate their lust. What else could it that in the daytime they assail the establishment for political interference and in the dead darkness of night schmooze with the men in uniform? And hasn’t the nation been a witness to the spectacle that when an elected government was shown the door unconstitutionally, its political foes celebrated its ouster? Weren’t sweets distributed on the streets by the adversaries every time a civilian government was sacked in the infamous decade of 1990s? And wasn’t the ouster of a government of heavy mandate in a putsch greeted with fireworks by the rival politicos, both mainstream and regional? The unspoken truth of this interference drama is indeed bitterer, more contemptible — and more condemnable. Yet even the chattering classes and the commentariat give a clean chit to the politicos in this theatre, and play along uncritically with the political class which itself gives this chit to it. The plain truth is that the politicians are as much culpable as are the agencies. Wasn’t it a politician who had ordered the opening of the much-derided political cell in the ISI? And don’t the political governments still use the agencies and various official arms for political objectives and to political ends? Yes, the interference of the establishment and the agencies should end in politics, which is none of their business. But how can it happen if the other party, the politicos, are not censured and condemned for their own willing role in this malaise? Of course, there is a snag here. The world over, agencies are not unknown for dirty tricks. But their role in politics in the established democracies is extinct, simply because the political forces there have their roots in the masses, who are the real determiners of their rise and fall. Here, in our elitist political culture, the political parties are not known for their roots in the masses but by their dynasties, patriarchies and pedigrees. With very shallow links with the mass of the people, their governments are very vulnerable to the vagaries of the hidden hands. They are very brittle and fragile, incapable of withstanding the furies of inimical forces. The inherent strength they can acquire only by becoming democratic internally with deep links amongst the masses. But that is a long haul. Until then, the abominable role of politicians themselves in the agencies’ political games must be talked about loudly and exposed fully to put paid to the establishment’s interference in political matters. Otherwise, the theatre would keep on.
Pakistan TodayPakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Information Secretary Shafqat Mahmood has urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of misappropriation of state resources by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif for political purposes. He elaborated that Sharif distributed cheques of Rs 200,000 each to victims of Gayari landslide and announced Rs 200,000 for the flood victims in Tehsil Jaffarabad, Balochistan. “While no one can object to relief being provided to affected families, a question does arise regarding the money Sharif is distributing. Is it his personal money? Is he parting with a miniscule part of the vast Sharif fortune? Or is this PML-N money?” he questioned. “On any of these counts no one can object,” said Mahmood, “but if Mr Sharif is distributing my money - because Punjab government’s money belongs to me too as a citizen of the province – he has no right to do so and I strongly object. He has no position in the Punjab government and by law is not authorised to go around doling out state money.” The secretary also said if Sharif really was using Punjab government’s money for politics, it amounted to pre-election rigging and it was unacceptable. Mahmood requested the chief election commissioner to take notice of political parties in government that were using state resources for political expediency.
by Shiraz ParachaThe postponement of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Pakistan is a tragedy and conspiracy against President Asif Ali Zardari and the PPP government. This conspiracy is similar to the one that was hatched in 1951 when the then Pakistani Prime Minister was advised not to accept the Soviet invitation. Instead of visiting the Soviet Union Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan went to the United States. Pakistan is still paying the price of Liaqat Ali Khan’s that political and strategic blunder. Sixty one years later, the visit of Vladimir Putin, the first by any Russian President, could be a turning point in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Political and economic benefits of such a shift would be significant for Pakistan. Pakistan could become a key transit country for the east-ward flow of energy from Russia and Central Asia. Russia is interested in investing in Pakistan’s energy and infrastructure sectors. Several long-term agreements were to be signed during the Putin’s visit. For defense purchases Pakistan is dependent on the West. The United States can cripple Pakistan’s defense capabilities anytime. President Putin visit would also open doors for multi-dimensional cooperation between Russia and Pakistan in defense sector. Russia is opposed to NATO presence in Afghanistan and Russian leadership is extremely concerned that under NATO nose there has been big surge in narcotics production in Afghanistan. Russians are aware that the 1980s’ Afghan Jihad was funded by drug money that came from drug production in Afghanistan. They are also links between terrorism and drug trafficking. Russia fears that extremist and insurgents operating in different parts of Russia and Central Asia get financial support from Afghanistan. President Putin considers Pakistan a major player in Afghanistan and wants to develop a strategic partnership with Pakistan with regards to Afghanistan. Since 2000, strong, shrewd and stubborn Putin has posed a challenge to Western designs in the region. In the West Putin is portrayed as an autocrat and oppressor, who is enemy of freedom and democracy. In Russia, however, President Putin is extremely popular. People in other former Soviet States also like him and his policies. To a large majority of the Russian public Putin has brought prosperity and stability. He is seen as a symbol of Russian pride. Some consider Putin a true successor of Peter the Great, the father of modern Russia. Vladimir Putin entered mainstream Russian politics in 1999 and became the first elected President of the country in 2000. Since then he is in-charge of Russia. The Russian strongman can stay in the office until 2024 (if he wins 2018 presidential elections). This possibility is West’s worst nightmare. Putin’s use of energy and natural resources as foreign policy tool, his opposition to NATO eastward expansion and U.S hegemony, and his support for countries such as Iran and Syria has made him a villain in the eyes of Western leaders and the Western media. Some Arab countries also feel uncomfortable that Russia is emerging as a new leader of world energy supplies. Russian support for Iran and Syria is a source of tension between Moscow and Arabs rulers. Since the Cold War era Russia has uneasy relations with Saudi Arabia and some Arab Sates. A section of the Russian security establishment believes that there is an Arab link behind the increase of extremism in former Soviet States. Under Putin the Russian government has brought peace in Chechnya and has dealt with extremists with iron hand. In Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari has introduced a gradual shift in his country’s foreign policy. He is focusing on building relations with Russia and Central Asian states and has taken Pakistan’s relations with China to a new level of understanding. President Zardari has also adopted a new approach towards India. Interestingly, Pakistan’s military appears to be supporting the new direction of the country’s foreign policy. New confidence building efforts between Pakistan and Russia are the most important change in both countries’ foreign policies. It is a monumental development that will have long-lasting positive effects on the entire region, Nevertheless, this new path is full of dangers. The surprise postponement of President Putin’s already scheduled visit to Pakistan shows that building bridges between Russia and Pakistan is not easy. The delay in Putin’s visit has certainly damaged President Asif Zardari’s plans to sign key agreements with Russia before the elections and make history. But the postponement of the visit is bad for Pakistan, too. The next Pakistani government may not be enthusiastic in improving relations with Russia. Leading Pakistani politicians such as Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and leadership of Islamic political parties support the Saudi camp. President Zardari, on the other hand, came with a new vision of bringing Pakistan closer to Russia, Iran and Central Asia. President Putin decision to delay his visit is based on intelligence reports that the Russian leader could be target of an attack because his foreign enemies have influence and access in Pakistan. Such intelligence reports could be a conspiracy to sabotage Russia-Pakistan relations and deprive President Zardari of a historic opportunity. But the loss is bigger than that. A golden opportunity may have been missed to steer Pakistan out of its disastrous dependence on Western and Saudi camp.