You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Friday, October 31, 2008

Leadership not IMF is the issue...

... a few excerpts from Yousaf Nazar's opinion published in DAWN, October 29, 2008

PAKISTAN’S current economic meltdown is a crisis of competence if judged in light of the recent past. In the context of history, it represents a colossal failure of the establishment’s long-term foreign and economic policies.

The government continued Musharraf’s Washington-centric foreign policy. Yet, in the hour of its greatest need, the US not only ditched Pakistan but a third-ranking state department official publicly humiliated its ‘friend’ by saying that the Friends of Pakistan “wouldn’t throw money on the table”. This wasn’t surprising given Condoleezza Rice’s more subtle remarks earlier on Sept 26: “We are very engaged with Pakistan, through the international financial institutions, to help Pakistan as it takes the difficult decisions that it is and must take on economic reform.” Translated: Pakistan should go to the IMF and reform its economy.While the US pressure on Pakistan to go the IMF has political undertones, it is also true that Pakistani rulers’ historic tendency to indulge in profligate spending and corruption has left them with few sympathisers despite the much trumpeted ‘geostrategic’ importance of Pakistan.

The US has historically directed most of its ‘aid’ to make Pakistan fight its wars. The aid has been primarily used for military purposes (e.g. Pakistan’s arms purchase orders in 2006 alone totalled $5.1bn) but the indirect cost of the conflicts since 1980 has been catastrophic, although some people continue to believe in the ‘benefits’ of such ‘aid’.

The ‘aid syndrome’ stymied any serious effort to reform the economy. Infrastructure investments and tax reforms were neglected because the so-called austerity programmes advocated by the multilaterals hit subsidies but not the pockets of vested interests. Oil and food subsidies played a major role in Asia and the European Union respectively in keeping the prices low because the governments had fiscal space, of which Pakistan never had much. Cutting fat in defence and establishment expenditures and taxing the rich were not high on the multilaterals’ reform agenda as the focus was usually on indirect taxes (e.g. sales tax) that inevitably hit the lower-income groups.

But what is the point in complaining about the US’s ‘real agenda’ or the IMF’s ‘conditionalities’ when the country’s leaders are unwilling to tighten their belts and undertake necessary reforms and are known to own assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars abroad? Confidence and credibility are important issues and cannot be wished away.

Full article at Random Thoughts
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fiery Kurd wins SCBA poll

ISLAMABAD, Oct 28: In what appears to be a blow to the perceived government plan to divide lawyers’ movement, Ali Ahmed Kurd was elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Tuesday. The firebrand lawyer defeated the government-backed candidate and his former teacher Mohammad Zafar.

After the landslide in the 11th election of the association, Mr Kurd and his entire panel will replace the team of Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, who has been an equally aggressive and leading campaigner for the independence of judiciary and has spearheaded the lawyers’ movement throughout his tenure.

“I thank and pray to God to give me the vigour, courage and strength to lead the movement in a similar fashion like my predecessors, Munir A. Malik and Aitzaz Ahsan,” Mr Kurd told reporters in Lahore from where he clinched 540 out of 852 votes.

His rival, Mohammad Zafar, a nominee of the People’s Lawyers Forum (PLF) and backed by Attorney General Sardar Mohammad Latif Khosa, former attorney general Malik Mohammad Qayyum and the Ashraf Wahla group, could only secure 220 votes from the city.

“The overwhelming and landslide victory is reflective of the fact that people want to see Justice Iftikhar as their chief justice,” Aitzaz Ahsan said.

“In fact the elections are a referendum against the sitting government which is dragging its feet over restoration of senior judges, including deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Lawyers have spoken out their mind and thwarted the government’s move to divide the legal fraternity,” said Tariq Mehmood, a key campaigner of Mr Kurd in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and former SCBA president.

He accused the government of trying to stop voters from reaching the Supreme Court building by deploying Rangers and police on the Constitution Avenue.

Soon after the announcement of unofficial results, lawyers, led by Rawalpindi Bar Association President Sardar Asmatullah, gathered outside the residence of Justice Iftikhar to celebrate the victory. They distributed sweets and danced to the beat of drums.

In Lahore, Malik Mohammad Qayyum had to leave the venue without casting his vote after supporters of Mr Kurd started raising slogans against him. However, he later returned with supporters of the PLF to cast his vote.

Tariq Mehmood said that according to unofficial results, Mr Kurd bagged 1,052 out of 1,724 votes. Mr Zafar secured about 505 votes.

Mr Kurd clinched 144 votes from Rawalpindi and Islamabad and Mr Zafar 70. Kurd secured 45 votes in Quetta, 77 in Peshawar, 16 in Abbotabad, 138 in Karachi, 69 in Multan and 23 in Bahawalpur.

Other elected members of the Kurd panel are: Shoukat Umar Pirzada (secretary), Mohammad Ayyaz Khan Sawati (vice-president Balochistan), Saeed Akhtar Khan (vice-president NWFP), Mian Javaid Jalal (vice-president Punjab), Zulfiqar Khalid Malooka (additional secretary) and Sheikh Ahsanuddin (finance secretary).

Known for his aggressive speeches against the government of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Mr Kurd once burnt copies of the Zafar Ali Shah case of 2000 in which the Supreme Court had validated the Oct 12, 1999, military coup.

He has earlier served as president of the Balochistan High Court Bar and vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council. He was a member of the panel of lawyers defending deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in the reference filed against him by the former president.
Fiery Kurd wins SCBA poll -DAWN - Top Stories; October 29, 2008

will the win inject a new life n spirit to the movement???
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In the commando's footsteps?

By Kamran Shafi

REALLY, now! It is one thing to renege on repeated solemn, signed, public promises; it is quite another to use one’s powerful office to rub an honourable man’s face in the dirt.

Indeed, to trample so cruelly and thoughtlessly a most honourable and brave and courageous movement’s face into the ground.

I refer to Asif Zardari’s statement: “The way these ‘former’ judges are delivering speeches similar to that of politicians, I would advise the prime minister to give them a party ticket for the Senate elections to be held next year.

“I do not see even a minute judicial crisis except a few judges delivering political speeches … 42 out of 62 judges have taken new oath and now it’s a problem of only four, five people as many of them have already retired.” A newspaper added: “When asked whether these 4/5 judges also included Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, [President Zardari] said in a lighter tone that [Justice Iftikhar] was so popular that he might pose a threat to the government, as they had assumed the role of politicians and we would invite them to join politics and contest the Senate elections. He said the president has the power to lift the two-year ban before any judge or government servant contests polls.” I am not shocked, for anything might happen in a country where for the very first time the leader of the largest (so far anyway) political party has the gall to say that a political promise was just that, politics; that it was not the word of God.

What saddens, and greatly angers me, is that an honourable man, and from what I have seen and heard of him, a damn good judge, is being treated the way he is. Let me clarify here and now that I have only once attended My Lord Iftikhar Chaudhry’s court, on the day that he had suo motu remanded Mukhtaran Mai’s case to the Supreme Court after the Lahore High Court had released her rapists and their henchmen.

The way the judge, helped by his brother justices Bhagwandas and Syed Saeed Ashad, disposed of the seven or eight cases before Mukhtaran Mai’s was exemplary. Indeed, one of the lawyers who I have known for more years than I care to count told me that the judgment against his client was exactly right! Justice Chaudhry’s many achievements have been recounted in this column too many times before; suffice it to say that a man of his stature and standing does not deserve the ignominy being heaped upon him by none other than the highest in the land. Indeed, going to the extent of sarcastically saying that Iftikhar Chaudhry had become so popular that he “might pose a threat to the government” is a blow that reminds one of Musharraf calling My Lord Chaudhry “the scum of the earth”.

Not to be left behind, Attorney General Khosa — a fitting successor to the much disgraced Malik Qayyum who was actually forced by the Supreme Court to resign from judgeship of the Lahore High Court for conspiring with Saifur Rahman to award a heavy sentence to Benazir Bhutto — has invited My Lord Chaudhry to take a fresh oath and become a judge of the Supreme Court! Khosa has, once again, aired the New Pakistan Peoples Party’s line that whilst Musharraf’s actions of November 3, 2007 were de facto improper there is no way other than a constitutional amendment to put his actions right. And that there is no constitutional way of doing that other than a constitutional amendment. Then why don’t you move an amendment, Attorney General?

It is no use trying to talk to the purposely deaf. One can only shake one’s head in dismay at the way the mightiest (thus far, but certainly not for long) political force in the country is heading towards certain disaster.

Elsewhere now, and while some Indians are protesting the expense of $76m on sending a moon probe on an indigenouslymade Indian rocket that will reportedly do what no probe has done before (thank you, Star Trek), the Pakistan Navy is procuring a 35-year-old frigate from the US which will refurbished at a cost of (a further?) $54m! Talk of priorities! What do we need a 35-year-old frigate for, please? Who does the Pakistan Navy intend to frigate, specially in light of President Asif Ali Zardari’s ringing recent pronouncement that India has never been a threat to Pakistan? Another toy for the boys, what, such as the F-16s which are programmed not to leave Pakistan’s airspace and which will mean another $3bn down the tube?

And another thing. I have asked this question before, let me ask it again: who are the Pakistani agents for these two deals? Why is this a deep dark secret? And while we are at it, who is the agent for the two Saab early warning system aircraft which were procured two years ago (way before the rupee’s dive into oblivion, mark) for US$1.2bn, which was double their offer price in 1995?

And yet another thing. Why is the army going ahead with the new GHQ project in Islamabad the Beautiful at this time when the poor have neither food nor electricity nor potable drinking water? It has a very plush headquarters in Rawalpindi already; we are living in the Information Age where the headquarters of the three forces do not have to be in the same city for ‘coordination’. So why?

Finally, there is a great debate raging on whether the Commando will enter politics to try and resurrect his ‘golden era’ — I swear someone said this just yesterday! My answer is this: Musharraf can do what he wants but the man must be tried first in an open court of law for his sheer ineptness, and for setting this country alight with the fires of hate and malice and rancour.

Above all, since he was the allpowerful Commando-in-Chief, he must be asked why both the crime scenes where two deadly attacks on Benazir were made, the one in Karachi resulting in the death of over 150 poor innocents and the maiming of hundreds of others and the one in Rawalpindi resulting in her own tragic death and that of many others, were sanitised inside of minutes while every other bombing was cordoned off for days on end while forensics experts scoured the area for clues.

Let him answer the charges, then jump off a bridge if he must. ¦

The article was published in Dawn on October 28, 2008 (Tuesday).
'In the Commando's footsteps?'Dawn ePaper - Digital replica of Print Edition.

South Punjab bars ‘out of bounds’ for Khosa, Naek

MULTAN, Oct 27: A lawyers’ convention has barred president of Pakistan, federal law minister and attorney general from entering all the barrooms in southern Punjab for allegedly taking a stance detrimental to the lawyers’ cause.

“The entry of each and every person who is against the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of deposed judges is banned, whether he is President Asif Ali Zardari, Law Minister Farooq A Naek and Attorney-General Latif Khan Khosa,” a resolution passed by participants of the convention attended by representatives of all bar councils of southern Punjab stated here on Monday.

The convention also rejected Pakistan Bar Council decision suspending the licenses of the Lahore High Court Bar’s Multan Bench President Mahmood Ashraf Khan and Secretary-General Rana Naveed Ahmad, removal of both office-bearers from their posts and nomination of acting president and secretary-general.

It warned some PBC members against using the bar against the lawyers’ cause while erasing the name of Attorney General Latif Khan Khosa from the “roll of honour” of high court bar due to his allegedy interference in the matters of bar and taking a stance detrimental to the lawyer’s cause.

Addressing the convention, LHC Justice Shahid Saddiqui (retired) said during the past 60 years, rulers had always suppressed the judiciary by sending the dissenting judges home in violation of the Constitution.

He said he felt proud that he did not take oath under PCO because it was the responsibility of judges to protect the Constitution.

Another retired judge of the LHC, Justice Jahangir Arshad, said now being a lawyer he would not appear before any PCO judge.

He demanded the Punjab government should initiate a trial against a former Sahiwal DPO who was allegedly responsible for the burn injuries caused to scores of lawyers when they were protesting against the suspension of the Constitution last year.

He said the PBC had suspended the licenses of seven members of Bahawalpur Bar who had launched a campaign to remove the bar president.

He said Athar Bokhari should restrict him for elections and should avoid to interfering in the matters of high court bar association.

President LHC’s Multan Bar Mahmood Ahraf Khan said appointment of acting bar president and secretary-general and suspension of lawyer’s licenses had brought a bad name to the PBC.

Later, the participants of convention held a rally from the high court building to SP Chowk. They chanted slogans against Latif Khosa, Farooq A Naek and Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.
South Punjab bars ‘out of bounds’ for Khosa, Naek -DAWN - National; October 28, 2008
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Role' of Media ???

Above is the news report of a press conference by the religious leaders (ULAMA'), yesterday, by Daily Express in today's issue whereas The News reported (on their website) the same event much differently, they missed everything except the 'FATWA'. Why didn't they reported the other content of the Press Conference ? This is the 'role' of our media in reporting events !

Friday, October 10, 2008

History of Israel


Islam & America: Through the Eyes of Imran Khan

Why do so many Muslims hate the United States? What has America done to alienate so many people in the Muslim world? Imran Khan addresses some important questions. [This video was made in November, 2007]

Transcript of Video

Why do so many Muslims hate the United States? What has America done to alienate so many people in the Muslim world? These are the questions that former Pakistani cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan, tries to answer in this latest offering of the Unreported World series.

At Islamabad’s Women’s College, a concert for peace is taking Place. The students are mainly from privileged, middle-class backgrounds. If you were looking for Muslims that sympathised with the West, this would be the first Place you would go. But even here, amongst the more liberal, “Westernised” Pakistanis, anti-American feeling is riding high.

“It’s as if one white life was far more important than thousands of black or brown lives,” comments one young, educated, middle-class woman. “They feel they can basically come in, use as they please, and then, when they want, they can just walk across the border, go somewhere else, and do exactly as they please there,” complains another.

The underlying feeling here is clearly that the US only cares or acts when its own people are at risk. If these liberal, cosmopolitan women feel this way about America, how must those who do not benefit from the Western way of life feel?

In Peshawar, close to the border with Afghanistan, anti-war demonstrators fill the streets. They are driven by a sense of justice that is a fundamental aspect of the Koran. America may be the most powerful country in the world, but the feeling here is that this does not give them the right to act as judge, jury and executioner.

As far as the international press is concerned, there is a lot more mileage in stories emphasising the extremes and differences between cultures, instead of what they have in common. The result is often a misunderstanding about the true nature of Islam. People in the United States tend to equate Islam with Fundamentalism, but, for many Pakistanis, Islam gives them a direction in life, helping them to come to terms with their harsh, often poverty-stricken reality.

In this part of the world, the spectre of the IMF looms large. Even the poorest street traders in the country’s capital, Lahore, know what the IMF is, and who is at the helm. “The IMF is America. America tries to control our economy through the IMF,” comments one shopkeeper. Pressure from the IMF has forced the government to raise utility rates frequently, with devastating results. It is in the impoverished rural communities that the effects are most clearly perceived, with many unable to afford food and basic health care.

As the state system crumbles under the pressure of its debts, the vacuum created has been filled by others. The poor are turning to the religious schools, or madrassas, which are often breeding grounds for a more intolerant version of Islam. Unsurprisingly, their influence is strongest where neglect and poverty are most pronounced.

The attacks of September 11 were universally condemned throughout the Muslim world, but America’s reprisals against Afghanistan have changed everything. The fundamentalists now occupy the centre-stage. How did Islam get hijacked in this way? Is it only America to blame, or have the values of Pakistan’s ruling class also played a part in fomenting resentment against the West?

This fascinating and highly resonant report goes a long way towards explaining the problematic nature of the relationship between Islam and the West. It is a schism that developed long before the bombing of Afghanistan, and is likely to take even longer to heal.

A report by Imran Khan for Unreported World.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dumb blonde to the core!!

In short she's just saying:

Down on the sun
Down and no fun
Down and out where the hell ya been?
Damn it all down
Damn it unbound
Damn it all down to hell again

Stand tall
Can't fall
Never even bend at all before
you've arrived
But now it's time
To kiss your ass good-bye

Dragging me down
Why you around?
So useless

It ain't my fall
It ain't my call
It ain't my bitch

(Metallica - Ain't My Bitch)

p.s. I feel sorry for Americans and Pakistanis, that we're getting leaders like these!!!

Khan’s bakeries fight Pakistan food crisis

Clutching a 10-rupee note, Amina, 11, boasted that she could now buy 10 rotis to bring home to her five siblings and parents. “Before I could only get five or six each day for my family. Now we can each have a full roti with our meals, instead of splitting them up.”
LAHORE: Imran Khan, Pakistan’s revered cricket hero who has transformed himself into the country’s angriest politician, forfeited a place in parliament when he boycotted February elections. Now he is doing what the crisis-burdened government is failing to: feeding the poor.

In depressed urban neighbourhoods of the Punjab, Pakistan’s most populated province, Mr Khan’s party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, has begun operating sasta tandoors (cheap tandoor bakeries), selling fresh roti and nan from traditional tandoor ovens for less than half the market rates.
Soaring inflation and a national wheat shortage – due to over-export, smuggling and hoarding – have made flour an expensive and hard-to-come-by commodity.

For the past year, low-income earners and the unemployed have had to elbow and shove each other to get hold of their diet staple at discount sale points.

Food inflation is at 35 per cent year-on-year. Fuel and electricity prices have skyrocketed. For the two-thirds of Pakistan’s 165 million people earning less than US$2 (Dh7.2) a day, survival is a struggle.
“People are going hungry. The majority can’t afford flour. People are finding it difficult to feed their children,” Mr Khan said.

A kilo of flour now costs 24 rupees (Dh1.8), up from 18 rupees a year ago.

“The situation is worse in the cities. In the rural areas, people store grain for long periods, or they grow what they can on small pieces of land. But in the cities people are desperate.”

In August, shortly before Ramadan began, Mr Khan’s party opened its first sasta tandoor in a poor area of Lahore, the bustling eastern city of about 10 million people. Crowds clamoured for bread.
“It was a huge success. But so many people were coming that we couldn’t cope,” he said. “So we opened five more in Lahore and another 13 in nearby cities. Eventually, we plan to open in all major cities and areas with large concentrations of people who are struggling.”

Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad, and the commercial hub of Karachi are next to get sasta tandoors.

The idea came from members of Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement for Justice, the party Mr Khan founded in 1997. He left behind two decades of international cricket and threw himself into charity work, setting up a major cancer hospital that provides free treatment to 70 per cent of its patients. Politics followed.
Unlike most parties in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Insaf has a detailed manifesto, central to which is the introduction of state welfare.

But the party will have to wait a few years before having a voice in national policy-making: it boycotted the last elections on the grounds that they were illegal under Pervez Musharraf’s unelected presidency.

The February polls were to be the third elections contested by the party, and for the first time it was confident of gaining more than the one seat it has only ever held, when Mr Khan won in his native constituency in 2002.
“I thought if we were in power, what I’d be doing is trying to make Pakistan a welfare state,” he said. “We wouldn’t have the means to do so immediately, so we would start with something like this.”

Mr Khan added he was taking a targeted approach to subsidising the national staple.

“There is no way you can subsidise everything for everyone. We are targeting the most deprived.”

Tehreek-e-Insaf workers purchase the flour in bulk at market rates for the bakeries, which then sell the bread at heavily subsidised prices. The sasta tandoors bake 3,000 to 5,000 rotis and nans per day, selling rotis for one rupee each and nan for three rupees. On the normal market, one roti costs four rupees and nan between seven and 10 rupees each.
“In our society there are five to six people per household,” Omar Cheema, the party’s information secretary, said. “Only one is running around and earning; the rest just sit and eat. This way every mouth in the household can get a roti each at mealtimes.”

In Ghousia Colony, a downtrodden neighbourhood of chaotic dirt lanes and muddy canals on Lahore’s outskirts, 400 people a day queue each morning and evening to buy warm bread from the busy sasta tandoor.
“Every household here is saving 70 to 80 rupees per day,” said Ahmad Nasir, who co-ordinates the tandoor programme. “It’s cheaper to buy bread here than to make it at home.”

At dusk, one drizzly evening before iftar, hundreds of children and elderly people lined up at the Ghousia Colony. Clutching a 10-rupee note, Amina, 11, boasted that she could now buy 10 rotis to bring home to her five siblings and parents.
“Before I could only get five or six each day for my family. Now we can each have a full roti with our meals, instead of splitting them up.”