A lurch to the right - Fiachra Gibbons - 21st March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/a-lurch-to-the-right.html

OVER the past few years of recession and regression, it has become a trite truism of European politics that you can’t go wrong going to the right. Politicians across the continent have found a new magic formula for electoral success and survival by playing on fears of foreigners and particularly of Islam — the wink and a nod that says that immigration has been the root of our social and economic decline.
This is by no means an exclusively rightwing vice. Anyone who has heard the Dutch Labour Party recently will have difficulty putting light between them and the demagogue Geert Wilders.
Until now, they might have tried to argue that there was no harm in it, that it’s a rebalancing of the scales after two decades of biting our tongues and creeping political correctness.
The French airwaves have been full of such ugly equivocation these past few weeks as President Nicolas Sarkozy has lurched his party wildly to the right in an attempt to save his skin, claiming there were “too many immigrants in France” and stoking Islamophobia with a ridiculous claim that the French were being secretly forced to eat halal; his prime minister Francois Fillon even said Jews and Muslims should put their dietary laws behind them and embrace modernity.

The changing endgame - Najmuddin A. Shaikh - 21st March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/the-changing-endgame.html

AS parliament begins its debate on the resetting of US-Pakistan relations and presumably insists on laying out transparently the parameters for the relationship it should bear in mind the recent dramatic changes in the Afghan situation which are an important though not dominant element in the US-Pakistan relationship.
I say important rather than dominant because the elimination of the terrorist threat posed by Al Qaeda and its affiliates remains the principal American objective in the region and that is seen to be emanating from Pakistan’s soil rather than Afghanistan’s.
In my view, even if a reconciliation process brings a modicum of peace to Afghanistan the American interest in our region and in our own struggle against terrorism and extremism will continue for the decade or more that would be needed to change the mindset created over the last 34 years.
Unfortunately, recent developments in Afghanistan make it unlikely that peace of any sort will be achieved in Afghanistan. One can break up these developments into two parts, the first being those that have exacerbated almost to a breaking point the tensions between the Karzai and Obama administrations, between the Afghan National Security Forces and Nato forces and perhaps most importantly between the Afghan populace and the Nato forces particularly in the insurgency-ridden south and east of the country.

Self-interest in Afghanistan - Mahir Ali - 21st March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/self-interest-in-afghanistan.html

“I been knocking on the door/ That holds the throne/ I been looking for the map/ That leads me home/ I been stumbling on good hearts/ Turned to stone/ The road of good intentions/ Has gone dry as a bone/ We take care of our own…/ Wherever this flag’s flown/ We take care of our own.”
Bruce Springsteen is no stranger to wilful misinterpretation; the tendency for his protest songs to be miscast as patriotic hymns stretches back more than a quarter of a century to Born in the USA, which was misappropriated by the Reagan re-election campaign in the mid-1980s.
The opening track on his latest album — arguably his most potent series of commentaries on the state of the union — is, as Springsteen recognises, liable to being misunderstood.
Who would have thought, though, that it could be deployed as a theme song for the rapid evacuation of Robert Bales from Afghanistan after he strolled into a village near Kandahar and slaughtered 16 innocents, many of them children?

The begum’s burka - Rafia Zakaria - 21st March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/the-begums-burka.html

THERE are those who wear the burka for purely pragmatic reasons: to ward off the catcalls of men loafing at bus stops and in bazaars, to stanch the slick rumour-mongering tongues of neighbours, to better protect the outfit underneath from the grime of city life.
Their needs are simple and can be met easily. The burka is a covering and so must be hardy and resilient, a sort of armour for the woman underneath trying with fabric to put some space between herself and the encroaching public world.
These recipes would be simple if the only women who wore the burka in Pakistan were the practical, hard-nosed urbanites for whom anonymity is essential to making inroads into worlds and spaces previously unknown to their gender.

Remembering Naveed Anwar - Zubeida Mustafa - 21st March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/remembering-naveed-anwar.html

NOT many may recall Naveed Anwar today because when he slipped into the valley of death 14 years ago he went silently without making a splash in the media.
At a time when the Transplant Society of Pakistan is launching its deceased organ donation campaign we should be paying homage to Naveed and the four others who followed his pioneering trail. They conclusively established that our society is capable of unbelievable generosity and care, even in the bad times we live in.
It was in 1998 that Naveed (24), an accountancy student, met with a fatal road accident and was declared brain dead — an irreversible condition when the brainstem stops working. The vital functions (heartbeat and breathing) of a person in this state can be sustained on a respirator for a few days. Naveed’s family — educated and enlightened as they are — came forward to offer his organs for transplantation.

Editorial Dawn - March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/category/today-editorial

Going forward

THE Parliamentary Committee on National Security’s recommendations on the US-Pakistan relationship contain at least one major new and positive suggestion and at least one significant sticking point. Perhaps the most promising change Senator Rabbani laid out was not just tactical or strategic but philosophical, calling for greater transparency in the US-Pakistan relationship — a transparency overseen by the civilian set-up. On-paper agreements would replace the verbal understandings that have defined the terms of the relationship over the last decade. These would then go through the ministries concerned, including the law ministry, the PCNS, the cabinet and parliament. Slower progress would be an inevitable result, and the security establishment would still play a significant role behind the scenes. But if implemented, and defined in a manner that minimises red tape, this new framework could be a giant leap forward for transparency in the US-Pakistan relationship, the way the Pakistani public perceives the relationship and the strength of civilian institutions.

Here & there: Haunted hotel, single begums — III —Razi Azmi - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\21\story_21-3-2012_pg3_5

The ladies section in the front part of Pakistani buses resembles a cage in a Third World zoo, complete with iron grills and nets, in full view of men at the back

There is a certain strangeness or, should I say, familiarity about Mississauga. Here, a mere 30 km from Toronto, one has to wait long to see a person of European descent. Judging by the crowds, Mississauga does not look western at all. One could be excused for thinking that one is in South Asia. Until recently, there were so many Pakistani and Indian women in Mississauga minding the children and biding their time to earn Canadian citizenship, while their husbands worked in the Middle East to earn petro-dollars that some Pakistanis jokingly referred to the place as Begumpura.

A Few Words: Balochistan vs General Pervaiz Musharraf —Dr Qaisar Rashid - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\21\story_21-3-2012_pg3_3

What General Musharraf has asked the ethnic Baloch is to barter away their political rights for the development work he did in Balochistan. The Baloch are declining that proposition

On last Wednesday March 14 and Thursday March 15, under the heading Understanding Balochistan, General (retired) Pervaiz Musharraf’s piece appeared (in two parts) in a national English daily. The quality of writing indicated that Dubai must be short of ghostwriters, otherwise, better written stuff could have been produced. If a piece of writing is a criterion to judge a writer’s intellectual calibre, one wonders who the fellows inviting General Musharraf to deliver lectures and earn millions of dollars are. The reason to attend his lectures is still explicable but the rationale to pay him in millions is beyond a Pakistani’s understanding. The public money of some foreign countries must be squandered by the ghost paymasters, I presume. 

China facing painful economic transformation —S P Seth - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\21\story_21-3-2012_pg3_2

The main reason for China’s relatively slower growth rate is a contraction of its major export markets in Europe and the United States

In the midst of global economic doom and gloom, China has attracted much attention and admiration for its impressive growth. Not long ago, China’s annual GDP was growing by over 10 percent. Things are now slowing down but the pace is still healthy. In his speech at the recent National People’s Congress in Beijing, Premier Wen Jiabao revised down the GDP growth rate to 7.5 percent, the lowest for a long time. In his address to China’s 3,000 delegates, he detailed the problems facing the economy. He said: “Domestically, it has become more urgent but also more difficult to solve institutional and structural problems and alleviate the problem of unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable development.” And: “Internationally the road to global economic recovery will be tortuous, the global financial crisis is still evolving, and some countries will find it hard to ease the sovereign debt crisis any time soon.”

Editrial Daily Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\21\story_21-3-2012_pg3_1

EDITORIAL: Prime Minister’s ‘No’
In response to the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) order of March 8, 2012, Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani has in his written reply refused point blank to write the letter desired by the SC to the Swiss authorities to reopen the alleged corruption and money laundering cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The grounds of the PM’s refusal make interesting reading. The arguments and facts marshalled by the PM in his defence indicate in conclusion and between the lines that he has expressed no confidence in the bench hearing the contempt of court case. The basic reasoning presented in the PM’s reply pertaining to the bench is that since these judges have initiated the prosecution by issuing a contempt notice to him, in fairness they should not hear the case since this would be tantamount to being a judge in their own case, a principle of law that needs to be adhered to. The PM referred to Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani having recused himself from the case because of close personal relations with the PM to indirectly bolster his argument regarding the appropriateness of the bench becoming both prosecutor and judge in his case.

Editorial The News - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-8-98786-Reviewing-ties

Much before the Salala attacks, it was increasingly clear that far beyond communication failures and chain-of-command issues, the Pak-US relationship faced profound, existential problems, not least deep suspicions of each other. The exchange of reports, accusations and counter-accusations since the attack has laid bare the extent of this mistrust. Thus, it is timely that Pakistani lawmakers are now debating the terms of re-engagement with the US as encapsulated in the report of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. The exercise should result in making the consequent policies more representative and acceptable, it is also important to objectively review the parliamentary committee’s recommendations and assess their appropriateness and feasibility.

Why not Kohistan? - Ayesha Haroon - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98790-Why-not-Kohistan

After the article on social media was printed, a reader asked: Why did the Maya Khan issue result in action but not the Kohistan and Mastung killings, despite social media crying hoarse about them? Why, indeed?

We protest the horrible civilian killings by a US soldier in Afghanistan and continue to follow the news: what will the US government charge him with, how will the case unfold, etc. So when dozens of equally innocent people get killed in Kohistan and Mastung, why is there no concrete action?

We expect the US to follow legal procedure to investigate and punish its soldier, but not Islamabad to catch the killers and punish them. What a very sorry state of affairs.

It is easier for us to talk of matters related to the war on terror, the environment, women’s rights, child labour, and so on, but not sectarian militancy. Sometimes, we are afraid of antagonising the religious sentiments of those who belong to a different sect. Other times, the crime is physically far removed (Kohistan) and does not impinge on our everyday life more than the usual culture of violence in which we live. Oftentimes, however, we do not have enough information to make up our mind – and do not make the effort to look beyond the official construct of events.

Balochistan: a thousand apologies are not enough - Iqbal Haider Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98791-Balochistan-a-thousand-apologies-are-not-en

After the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Hussain Sayed paid rich tributes to him, as reported in the print media of Aug 28, 2006. These two favourites of Gen Musharraf “slammed the killing of Akbar Bugti and stated that it should not have happened.” Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain expressed his indebtedness to Nawab Bugti for saving the life of his father, Zahoor Elahi. Mushahid also disclosed that “he had successfully negotiated with Bugti to normalise the situation in Sui and Dera Bugti.”

Now, should we believe Gen Musharraf, who portrays Nawab Bugti as an enemy of Pakistan, or should we believe his two trusted stalwarts who hold Nawab Bugti in high esteem?

Controversies aplenty - Rahimullah Yusufzai - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98789-Controversies-aplenty

With the likes of Mansoor Ijaz and now Younis Habib occupying the centre-stage for days and weeks at a stretch, there can never be a dull moment in Pakistan. There are others to give them company and amuse the people by making disclosures and digging up the past. It is, however, another matter if all this muck-raking would lead to anything tangible and make anyone accountable.

If anything, more legal battles would be fought as a result of the accusations and counter-accusations and lawyers, those already well-known and over-paid, would get to earn more money and fame as counsels for rich clients. This would mean greater preoccupation for the supreme and high courts in cases of political nature and also more controversy due to the polarised state of our politics.

Promise and problems of an ‘Asian century’ - Dr Maleeha Lodhi - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98788-Promise-and-problems-of-an-Asian-century

The writer is special adviser to the Jang Group/Geo and a former envoy to the US and the UK.

Pakistan figured frequently, at times unexpectedly, during last week’s conference in Delhi organised by India Today. The media group’s annual ‘conclave’ is a glitzy, high profile affair. This year was no different.

The theme was ‘An Asian Century’ but the subjects covered were diverse. They ranged from corruption, cricket, dynastic politics and citizen activism to India’s economic future, the rise of China and shifts in global power. Speakers were just as varied – masters of strategy, Bollywood stars, sportsmen, business entrepreneurs, social activists, writers and political leaders.

The conference was less an exercise in self-congratulation than a discussion of the political weaknesses and socio-economic problems afflicting the region. This underlined a central theme – that to realise its global promise Asia first had to resolve its innumerable challenges.

Is Arab democracy of vital interest to US? - Mohammad Fadhel - March 20, 2012

Source : http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/is-arab-democracy-of-vital-interest-to-us-1.996964

In the past, Arabs experienced a form of western democracy, which was specifically tailored and imposed by foreign occupiers during the colonial period. After the First World War, voters in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon used to cast their ballots that were supposed to determine which party would form the government. Alongside critical media driven by intellectuals and reformists and rapid modernisation and education, the scene was almost real: an active functioning democracy.
However, this scene was deceptive, as such a democracy had a red line that was not to be crossed: the demand for independence. With the presence of foreign occupiers, the real player who determined the horizons of that democracy were not elected governments or the parliament, which represents the people’s will. It was the colonial political agent who determined the boundaries of democracy.

US can’t spin this horrific massacre - Linda S. Heard - March 20, 2012

Source : http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/us-can-t-spin-this-horrific-massacre-1.996931

There are two different narratives on the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, currently dominating headlines. American news outlets have bought into the lone soldier scenario, the poor decorated Iraq war hero who lost his mind when his buddy's leg was blown off the day before he went on his murderous rampage. The accent of their reporting lies in the combined effect of multiple tours of duty on a soldier's psyche as well as debate on whether or not US troops should pull out of Afghanistan before 2014.
US networks and newspapers attempt to tug at heartstrings, suggesting that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a good guy with a clean record, might have been under the influence or suffering from marital problems. His lawyer maintains his client was upset at having to undergo a fourth tour. Perhaps, but when most of us are ‘upset' we don't go house-to-house exterminating strangers asleep in their beds as though they were rats.

Pope Shenouda was more than a Coptic patriarch - Ayman Mustafa - March 20, 2012

Source : http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/pope-shenouda-was-more-than-a-coptic-patriarch-1.996928

Though he had been ill for years and approaching 90, the head of Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt — Pope Shenouda III — died at a critical time for Egypt and its Christian community. The whole of Egypt is mourning the patriarch as he was more than a pope for orthodox Christians — religiously and socio-politically.
Pope Shenouda was a pivotal figure in Egyptian public life, and is credited with advancing the role of the church further than religious guidance and even delving into politics — as some of his critics argued in his life. Personal traits and developments in Egypt since he was elected to St Mark's seat in 1971 made him indispensable in the eyes of many Egyptians, Christians and Muslims alike.
As he studied history at university, he became aware of the importance of preserving the values of Egyptian society from the Pharaonic era to the present. When he joined the clergy, he was among a new generation of so-called ‘educated' — i.e. those who also studied non-theological studies. That's why some writers describe him as the first patriarch to have a comprehensive vision of heaven and earth.

The Salafist equation - Tariq Ramadan - March 20, 2012

Source : http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/the-salafist-equation-1.996976

As we observe political developments in both West and North Africa as well as in the Middle East, it is critical to take full account of the “Salafist equation”, which may well prove to be one of the most significant religious and political challenges of the coming years. One year after the Arab awakening, Salafist organisations and political parties are playing an increasingly active role throughout the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. The Saudi and Qatari Salafist organisations are very active domestically and internationally. They support other Salafist groups around the world, in West Africa (Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, etc.), in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) as well as across the Middle East and Asia (Egypt, Lebanon, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.) up to and including the European and American countries.

gulf News Editorial : Tuesday Mar 20

Source : http://gulfnews.com/opinions

Dubai is investing in the future

The slowly re-emerging sense of optimism in Dubai's economy is based on the emirate's traditional strengths, which have been able to survive the shock of the financial crisis of 2009 and the collapse of the construction sector. This new optimism affects both the commercial sector and the government which is continuing to invest in an astonishing future.
In the wider market, Dubai's exceptional position as the hub of the world has allowed it to recover a lot quicker than other economies. The emirate's geographical position is a large part of the reason. As Dubai's flagship airline Emirates points out in its current planning, 6.6 billion people are within a 16-hour direct flight from Dubai.
Dubai is geographically close to Asia, Africa and Europe, which contain many of the fastest growing economies for the next decades. This is good news for Dubai's hotels and tourism industry, for its ports and airports, as it continues to grow as the only genuinely global hub and re-export centre in the region. It is also good news for the emirate's emerging centres of excellence in services like Healthcare City, Media City and Internet City, as well as the all-important Dubai International Financial Centre for the financial sector.

Killer of Kandahar - Donna Gordon Blankinship and Dan Sewell - 20 March 2012

Source : http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2012/March/opinion_March77.xml&section=opinion&col=

LAKE TAPPS (Washington) - A diverging portrait of the Army sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers is emerging as records and interviews reveal a man appreciated by friends and family who won military commendations, yet one who faced professional disappointment, financial trouble and brushes with the law.
The more complex picture included details on how Robert Bales was bypassed for promotion, struggled to pay for his house and eyed a way out of his job at a Washington state military base months before he was accused of the horrific nighttime slaughter in two Afghanistan villages.
While Bales, 38, sat in an isolated cell at the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on Saturday, classmates and neighbours from suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, remembered him as a “happy-go-lucky” high school football player who took care of a special needs child and watched out for troublemakers in the neighborhood.

Bowing out with distinction - Tom Plate - 20 March 2012

Source : http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2012/March/opinion_March78.xml&section=opinion&col=

What was most amazing, to Westerners at least (and perhaps to the Chinese people), was that his comments were broadcast live on official China TV. After all, his official observations weren’t exactly pretty.
Here is the back-story:
In every historical movement and moment, there are good guys (good ladies, too) and bad. But they often come in shades of gray, making it difficult to sort them out. That is probably precisely the case with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. After all, for years he has been nothing less than the number two (behind impassive-faced President Hu Jintao) of a regime rated, certainly by the West, as relentlessly repressive. And he has been in office long enough to speak out forcefully long before this.
But in many places  — including Hong Kong and on the mainland as well — they tend to call him Uncle Wen, with genuine affection.

Ensuring an exit - Anatol Lieven - 20 March 2012

Source : http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2012/March/opinion_March79.xml&section=opinion&col=

President Barack Obama has been correct in one part of his response to the killing of 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier on Sunday: Such disasters must not lead to a panic-stricken “rush for the exit” by America and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
If the United States is to emerge from this conflict with some honour, and if Afghanistan is to have any chance of avoiding future civil war, it is essential that Obama stick to his promise.
A flight by the United States would be seen purely as a response to Western losses, reflect callous disregard for the plight of the Afghan people, and lead to justified feelings of triumph on the part of the Taleban and their allies.
Equally important, it would undercut Washington’s ability to shape a peace settlement. The present deadline for a withdrawal of US and NATO ground forces by the end of 2014 allows a reasonable time to search for such a settlement — if the United States uses that time well. On this point, unfortunately, the Obama administration’s approach is not encouraging. If it continues, the current US strategy will likely bring disaster to Afghanistan after 2014.

China’s path to reform - Martin Jacques - 20th March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/20/chinas-path-to-reform.html

LAST week’s dismissal of Bo Xilai, the party secretary of Chongqing province, casts this autumn’s Chinese Communist Party Congress, with the anticipated replacement of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, in a dramatic new light.
Bo Xilai, son of a former Communist Party leader and veteran of the Long March, has been exploiting his office for a thinly veiled campaign for a place on the standing committee that runs China. His fall was triggered when his right-hand man, the police chief Wang Lijun, sought refuge in the American consulate in Chengdu, claiming that his life was under threat from Bo.
The coup de grace was delivered by Wen at the annual National People’s Congress, when he warned that China risked another “historical tragedy” like the cultural revolution. Bo’s dismissal followed almost immediately.

An hourglass society - Mohammad Waseem - 20th March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/20/an-hourglass-society.html

POLITICS in Pakistan operates at two thinly connected levels representing a non-delivering ruling mechanism at one end, and perennially and potentially protesting masses at the other.
Pakistan can be viewed as an hourglass society. As an instrument for measuring time used in the late mediaeval ages, it had two separate halves connected by a narrow tube. The sand passed from the top to the bottom in one hour. Later, the glass was turned over for the next round of the falling sand. Two characteristics defined the hourglass. It had a narrow link between the two spaces and it was a top-down rather than a bottom-up mechanism.
High politics in Pakistan is characterised by an internecine conflict among rival contenders for power — the army, judiciary, mainstream and ethnic parties, Islamic and sectarian groups, the intelligence agencies and bureaucracy.

Question letter, answer book - Ashaar Rehman - 20th March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/20/question-letter-answer-book.html

AROUND the same time in 2008, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani would rather not have had the prime minister’s office because of its proximity to jail. This March, he is a prime minister who vows to stand by his party and the constitution, even if this sends him on another writing excursion to prison.
He obviously prefers writing a whole book over signing a letter.
Then, he used the time to write a book of memoirs, and he says he could repeat the feat should it come to that. That book, by the way, can constitute a syllabus for aspiring politicians.
Chah-i-Yousuf Say Sadaa takes an ambitious young man through a maze of local and national alliances, watched, goaded, denied, betrayed and blessed along the way by uncles, friends, young and old allies, prime ministers, presidents and, of course, the pirs.
Politics since the publication of the book means there are chapters Mr Gilani may find worthy of adding to. As the old formula still delivers, he would be inclined to think he has done enough for the cause to be taken up more earnestly and has created leaders — the heirs, actually — who can take over from him.

CBMs in South Asia - Jehangir Karamat & Shashi Tyagi - 20th March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/20/cbms-in-south-asia.html

THOUGH India-Pakistan relations are going through a relatively calm phase, things can change quickly. We must therefore take advantage of the present atmosphere to lock in beneficial patterns of behaviour.
One area where we believe that progress can be made is on the question of military confidence-building measures (CBMs). The idea behind CBMs is well-tested; military establishments agree to avoid actions which are threatening to the other side as a means to help avoid unintended conflicts. Of course, CBMs are not a panacea; if people want to have a conflict CBMs will not prevent it. But CBMs do provide a mechanism whereby states which want to avoid a conflict through accident or misperception can develop ways to help do so.
India and Pakistan have developed extensive CBMs over the years. Often, they have been developed in response to specific problems. There is nothing wrong with this. But we believe that it is time to develop a framework of such measures which can help to more systematically address some of the key issues the two sides face.

Culture & the Gulf dream - Bina Shah - 20th March, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/20/culture-the-gulf-dream.html

I WENT to Dubai recently to attend the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, a five-day offering of international and Arab writers, workshops, literary-related events, and entertainment that takes place at the Dubai Festival City each year.
I was interested to see how the festival compares to our own Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), and I was appropriately impressed by the organisation, scope of the festival and its programmes, its marketing and branding and the financial support it receives from Dubai companies and others.
We at the KLF could learn a lot from the way in which Dubai promotes its literary festival, and encourage schoolchildren to participate in special activities created just for them. There are short-story and poetry competitions, musical events, Arabic language and calligraphy courses, even cookery demonstrations hosted by celebrity chefs with cookbooks to promote.

Dawn Editorial : March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dawn.com/category/today-editorial

No end in sight

THE ‘memogate’ inquiry refuses to end. When Husain Haqqani offered on Sunday to expedite the proceedings by giving his testimony via video link from London, the inquiry commission ordered Mr Haqqani to appear in person before it, as per the terms of his departure from the country. It is not hard to fathom Mr Haqqani’s reasons for offering to testify via video link: he cannot really be relishing the circus that will be his return to Pakistan and his appearance before the commission again. But whatever the former ambassador’s reasons, anything that could help expedite the end of the memogate saga ought to be grabbed as eagerly as possible.

The CIA bomber —Tammy Swofford - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\20\story_20-3-2012_pg3_6

Evil is persistently present on the time continuum of man’s history. It cannot be eradicated by a solitary act. Al-Khorasani lost focus. He imagined his defiant act would rid the world of injustice. He “burned with the desire for martyrdom”

Writer’s note: when entering the mind of a suicide bomber, it is necessary to imagine how the world seems through his eyes. Look with me. But then wash your eyes carefully. Return quickly to clarity of vision.

“Insha’Allah, we will get you, CIA team. Insha’Allah, we will bring you down. Don’t think that just by pressing a button and killing Mujahideen, you are safe. Insha’Allah, we’ll come for you in an unexpected way. Look, this is for you. It’s not a watch, it’s a detonator, to kill as many as I can, Insha’Allah. This is my goal: to kill you, and to kill your Jordanian partner, and Insha’Allah, I will to al Firdous –Allah — Paradise — and you will be sent to Hell, and on Yawm al-Qiyaamah (the Day of Resurrection), we will Insha’Allah see you again. Honour is for Allah, and Allah is the Greatest.”

(Translated from Arabic: “An Interview with the Shaheed Abu Dujaanah al-Khorasani”.)

What are the best journalistic ethics? —Mohammad Nafees - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\20\story_20-3-2012_pg3_5

The question as to what constitutional right an army chief has to become a party in allowing or disallowing any elected political party to form the government remained unanswered from him

Being a journalist, what ethics need to be followed while conducting an interview? An internet debate ensued on this topic among the news media community when an anchor was suspected of having transgressed these limits. The debate soon turned controversial, which led the debaters to choose sides with all kinds of reasoning they could come up with. Among the debaters were senior journalists and retired servicemen. Azaz Sayed from Dawn TV was the anchor, who during an interview, repeatedly asked the former COAS General Aslam Beg if he would return the Tamgha-e-Jumhooriat (Democracy Award) conferred to him by the same democratic government against whom he is now accused of having plotted a conspiracy. 

ROVER’S DIARY: Balochistan independence movement — II - Babar Ayaz - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\20\story_20-3-2012_pg3_4

Not every government in Islamabad in the past believed that natural resources were provincial assets and not that of the federation. It was this unresolved provincial autonomy issue that haunted Pakistan from its inception

To understand this issue it is time to refresh our memory about the history of mismanaging Balochistan by Pakistan’s ruling elite.

Many years back I had called on Nawab Akbar Bugti at his Quetta residence. He was a bitter man, although his son Salim was a senior minister in the Balochistan government. During the discussion on harnessing Balochistan’s oil and gas resources, he said that no fresh exploration should be allowed in the province. Knowing the reasons for his reaction, I suggested that the Balochistan government or the people living on each concession should establish their respective holding companies, which should partner with the prospective exploration companies. “For instance,” I explained, “you can have say 15 percent to 20 percent equity in the company so that when oil and gas is discovered you can share the profit.” Nawab Bugti laughed at my suggestion cynically and said, “Babar, you are naïve. The government (federal) is not willing to give us control over our resources so how can we negotiate with others?” He was right then because the constitution of Pakistan did not give the native people any right over their oil and gas reserves.

Our anti-Punjab mayhem — II - Aamir Riaz - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\20\story_20-3-2012_pg3_3

If you scan the 20th century, Punjabis never voted in favour of fundamentalists. From the PRODA of Liaquat Ali Khan to the EBDO of Ayub Khan, numerous Punjabi leaders became victims of the ruling classes and finally, in 1970 Punjabis voted for Bhutto and they were right

Raza Abidi, in his famous writing Rail Kahani, recorded the story of a British plan to build a huge railway junction between Sukkur and Larkana with the name Ruk in 1879. They had plans to build a railway line via Kandahar to Turkey though Iran. In the 1880s the British fought the Anglo-Afghan wars. They were ready to fight with the Tsar directly if required. Before the 1893 Durand Line divide, the imperial power was interested to capture the old Silk Route running through the Tsarist empire, yet the late 19th century rise of Germany in Europe halted these imperial designs. Under the threat of Germany, the British and the Tsar made the Durand Line agreement. Hot wars ended provisionally at the Pakistan-Afghanistan front and it was the beginning of a cold war, yet even during that the Punjab remained the hub of activity.

Turmoil in Balochistan - Anwar Syed - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\20\story_20-3-2012_pg3_2

Where do we go from here and what is to be done? Few indeed in Pakistan are willing to let go of Balochistan. There may be many who will concede all or most of its demands short of secession

The place of Balochistan in the federation has been problematic from day one. The Khan of Kalat, head of the Baloch tribal confederacy, did not initially accede to the state of Pakistan. He adopted the position that he and the other chiefs had entered into agreements with the government of British India under which they recognized British suzerainty in return for the latter’s acceptance of their autonomy within the territories under their control. The terms of their accession to Pakistan would now have to be negotiated. The government of Pakistan did not accept this position. It sent in the army, which twisted the Khan’s arm and forced him to sign the instrument of accession. 

DailyTimes Editorial: EDITORIAL: Intelligence agencies’ controversial role - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\03\20\story_20-3-2012_pg3_1

EDITORIAL: Intelligence agencies’ controversial role
On Sunday, the intelligence agencies’ controversial role in the country’s affairs received attention from diverse sources. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, while interacting with journalists in Lahore, in answer to a question said the ISI was an important national institution but should not be controversial. About the possible closure of the political wing of the ISI, considered the part of the agency most involved with interference in the politics of the country, the prime minister said he had not yet had time to speak to the new DG ISI on the matter. We would urge the prime minister to do just that at the first opportunity, since it is obvious that the powerful agency needs to be taken on board if the objective of regulating its activities is to be achieved. Meanwhile, as a consequence of the Mehrangate case, Altaf Hussain, leader of the MQM, reasserted from London that he had refused to accept money offered by the ISI. If true, it means that Altaf Hussain’s suspected links with the intelligence agencies of the country when he first embarked on his political career have since been overtaken by time and developments. In any case, politicians have to realise that such links have not helped them or the democratic system to find its desired level. Also in London, Nawaz Sharif expressed the hope that COAS General Kayani will ensure that the new DG ISI, Lt General Zaheerul Islam would refrain from meddling in the country’s affairs to ‘engineer’ the political course. Nawaz Sharif accused the PPP-led government of currying favour with the establishment for the sake of clinging to power and said his party would never become part of the conspiracies hatched by the intelligence agencies to ‘manage’ politics. He went on to add that the role of the spy agencies should not be to take over the offices of political parties and indulge in horse-trading as they did during Musharraf’s rule to help the PML-Q. The reference here is to the forcible takeover of Muslim League House in Lahore and the creation of the PML-Q from the bulk of the PML-N in the aftermath of Musharraf’s coup in 1999. Here too, if Nawaz Sharif, as he claims, has realised the mistakes he made in the past and has learnt his lesson, another protégé of the establishment has seemingly broken ranks with the intelligence agencies-driven manipulation of politics. Nawaz believes the reason why his party is considered anti-establishment is because he has steadfastly refused (since returning from forced exile) to be party to the games the establishment and its intelligence arms constantly play.

Defending the constitution - Raana Shah - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98637-Defending-the-constitution

The black days of Pakistan’s short history range from the hanging of a prime minister to the sacking of the Supreme Court, repeated takeovers by the military, the mutilation of our Constitution and the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). These dark events changed the course of Pakistan’s history and gave the country a gloomy future. At the heart of these misfortunes was nothing more than efforts by individuals to grab power by any means whatever. The almost irreversible damage to the country and its entire system is only a by-product of their greed for power and money.

Living dangerously with debt - Dr Ashfaque H Khan - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98636-Living-dangerously-with-debt

Pakistan’s debt has grown rapidly in recent years. At the end of June 2007, the outstanding stock of public debt totalled Rs4.8 trillion rising to Rs11.7 trillion by the end of December 2011. In just four and a half years, Pakistan’s public debt has more than doubled. Public debt grew both in absolute term as well as in relation to the GDP. It rose annually by 23 percent during the period and has come to outpace the growth in nominal GDP, thereby increasing the country’s debt burden.

Within public debt, it is domestic debt that has grown at a faster pace (over 25 percent per annum) than external debt. The extraordinary surge in domestic debt is more worrisome because it is relatively more expensive. Interest payment has emerged as the single largest expenditure item in the budget, of which the payment on domestic debt accounts for over 90 percent of the total.

Within domestic debt, the composition has undergone considerable changes in the last four years. Medium-to-long term debt is being converted into short-term debt with serious consequences for government’s debt management strategy. Today, more than one-half of the domestic debt (Rs3.3 trillion) is of short-term maturity, which must be rolled over at least once a year. Besides refinancing over Rs3 trillion of short maturity debt in a given year, the government also needs money to finance its current year revenue-expenditure gap. Debt management has therefore become a nightmare for the policymakers. It has exposed the government to rollover and interest rate risks.

External debt and liabilities also rose sharply over the last four and a half years. The total outstanding stock of external debt stood at $40 billion by end June 2007, but rose sharply to over $61 billion by end December 2011 – an addition of $21 billion during the period. Had it not been for the suspension of the IMF programme, Pakistan would have added another $3 billion in debt.

Many factors have contributed to the recent surge in debt; prominent among these are persistence of large fiscal and current account deficits, sharp depreciation of exchange rate, higher discount rate and, most importantly, the evolution of a cavalier attitude towards debt. Large fiscal and current account deficits necessitated more borrowing, both in rupee and foreign exchange, by the government. The depreciation of exchange rate alone has added Rs1400 billion. The attitude towards debt has been a transformation from a hesitancy to borrow to an intense use of borrowed resources during the period.

High and rising debt constitutes a serious threat to economic prosperity for a number of reasons. It acts as a major impediment to growth, and hence to employment generation and poverty alleviation. It discourages both foreign and domestic investment because it creates uncertainty about the government’s policy and crowds out private investment. It further puts pressure on the exchange rate thereby causing sharp depreciation with an attendant rise in public debt and inflation. It also discourages the government from undertaking structural reforms in the various sectors of the economy.

The unprecedented surge in debt over the last four and a half years has already caused serious damage to the economy. Investment is at a 37 year low, foreign investment has collapsed, economic growth has slowed to an average of less than 3 percent, and unemployment and poverty have risen. The Pakistani rupee has lost over one-third of its value, which has further aggravated the country’s debt situation with inflation persisting at double-digits for 50 months in a row.

What is there in store for Pakistan in the next two years (2012-13 and 2013-14)? Although Pakistan has not yet arrived at the point of almost total collapse as witnessed by Greece, Italy, and other Eurozone countries, but the critical ingredients that brought the them to the brink are very much present today in Pakistan. For example, the culture of patronage, fiscal indiscipline, bleeding PSEs, higher budget deficit, unsustainable debt, bad governance, and persistence of slower economic growth are some of the common elements present in today’s Pakistan. If the status quo is maintained, Pakistan may face a similar situation in the next two years when it will have little resources to meet its external debt obligations.

Heavy debt repayment is expected in the next two years. Pakistan may be able to service its external debt to the extent of over $5.0 billion this year, of which, $1.46 billion is to be paid to the IMF alone. However, it may face serious difficulties in meeting external debt obligations which are expected to be over $9 billion each in the next two years, of which, Pakistan will have to repay about $4.3 billion in 2012-13 and $4.8 billion in 2013-14 to the IMF alone. Such a sharp jump in repayment would put Pakistan’s balance of payments in total disarray.

What should Pakistan be doing to protect itself from the impending debt crisis? Pakistan must take the following steps: i) reduce fiscal deficit to 3.0 percent of the GDP in three years by mobilising additional resources, taking bold decisions regarding the bleeding PSEs, reducing power sector subsidies through improvising efficiencies; ii) accelerate privatisation programmes with enhanced transparency; iii) maintain stability in exchange rate; iv) change attitude towards debt from intense borrowing with pride to borrowing only when necessary; v) revisit the NFC Award; and vi) undertake growth-critical reforms to revive economic growth.

Pakistanis are born free but they are in shackled in debt. Unprecedented surge in debt is the road to ruin and the failure to repay will be a breach of trust with disastrous consequences. No growth and prosperity can be achieved without reducing the country’s debt burden. Can our political leadership rise to the challenge? Can our economic managers tell the truth to the political leadership?

The writer is principal and dean at NUST Business School, Islamabad. Email: ahkhan@ nbs.edu.pk

Balochistan: a thousand apologies are not enough - Iqbal Haider - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98635-Balochistan-a-thousand-apologies-are-not-en

If US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher had not moved a resolution on Balochistan last month the most alarming conditions in Balochistan would not have received so much attention in the print and electronic media and by government and opposition politicians. This resolution of the US Congressman has awakened our past military president and the present elected president. On March 8, in a meeting with the chief minister of Balochistan, our worthy president considered it necessary to highlight the development funds granted for Balochistan and his willingness to apologise ten times to the estranged Baloch for the excesses committed against them in the past.

In a similar manner, Gen Musharraf, who is responsible for unpardonable atrocities committed in Balochistan, also highlighted the so-called “development schemes and projects” approved by him for Balochistan in his article in two parts, titled “Understanding Balochistan.” This was an attempt by Musharraf to exonerate himself and further mislead the people.

Neither mega-development programmes nor a thousand apologies are good enough unless the grievances of the people of Balochistan are addressed. Incalculable wrongs were committed against the Baloch by the regime of Gen Musharraf. Most regrettably the same policies are still continuing under the present elected government.

Most of the contentions of Gen Musharraf are either wholly baseless, or distorted and highly exaggerated. Like the present president who takes pride in the mega- development projects under “Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan,” Gen Musharraf has also presented a long list of his so-called achievements during his reign of terror. If these development projects and achievements were the answer to the turmoil in Balochistan then normalcy should have been restored long ago. The ground realities prevailing in Balochistan prove that such measures alone are not the solution to the issues and have failed to satisfy the aspirations of the people of Balochistan.

Gen Musharraf committed barbaric atrocities against the Baloch nationalists. after he made a unilateral declaration of war against the three popular Baloch tribal sardars, Sardar Akbar Bugti, Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri and Sardar Attaullah Mengal, and their family members and followers. The Marris and Mengals were never in league with the Bugtis. On the contrary, when the Bizenjo-Mengal government in Balochistan was unjustly dissolved in 1973, the Bugtis were direct beneficiaries of that.

Nawab Bugti was then appointed governor of Balochistan and remained a trusted and favoured ally of all the governments till the early years of the Musharraf regime. The attacks of Gen Musharraf on all three brought them close to each other. The Musharraf regime resorted to the worst atrocities on the soil of Pakistan and against our nationals both by aerial bombing and through the use of our forces in Awaran, Panjgur and the Murri and Dera Bugti. So much so, that from 2003 an exodus started from various districts of Balochistan, in particular from Dera Bugti, Kuhlo, Marri area, Kahan, Panjgur, Awaran, Barkhan, Jabbar and Pekal.

Details of the mass exodus and the atrocities were published in many reports in national dailies and monthly magazines, as well as in the HRCP reports of 2006 and 2009, with the testimonies of the families of the victims and local leaders.

The repeated claims that there is no army operation in Balochistan are also belied by the contents of the article by Gen Musharraf and were never believed by the people of Pakistan. For ordinary people there is no difference between army or paramilitary forces or law-enforcement agencies. For them they all look alike and act alike. The question remains unanswered as to why the internally displaced persons from the effected districts of Balochistan have not been rehabilitated with adequate compensation for repair and restoration of their houses?

In an attempt to justify the murder and mayhem let loose by him, Gen Musharraf has alleged that “Nawab Akbar Bugti was challenging the FC, the army, the provincial government, and indeed Pakistan.” He conveniently forgets that the two prime ministers nominated by him were great admirers of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Soon after his election as prime minister, Mr Zafarullah Jamali declared in December 2002 that Nawab Bugti was his “ideal political leader.” His successor, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who was appointed as prime minister by Gen Musharraf during a transitory period declared that “I owe a debt of gratitude to Nawab Bugti and the province of Balochistan and its people.”

In order to discharge this debt, Chaudhry Sahib, being a favourite and trusted ally of Gen Musharraf, constituted a parliamentary committee on Balochistan comprising 38 members of the National Assembly and the Senate. This committee was headed by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and included his close aides and favourites, Senators Mushahid Hussain and Waseem Sajjad, as well as members of all the political parties represented in the parliament including the JWP of Nawab Bugti. Two sub-committees of members of parliament were also constituted. One was headed by Mushahid Hussain, secretary general of the PML-Q, and the other was headed by Mr Waseem Sajjad. The members of this committee met and sought the views of most of the prominent Baloch leaders including Nawab Akbar Bugti, Sardar Khair Bukhsh Marri, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Dr Abdul Hai Baloch and the Khan of Kalat.

After due deliberations amongst themselves and discussions with the prominent leaders of Balochistan, including Nawab Bugti, the sub-committee headed by Mushahid Hussain submitted its report and recommendations. Nawab Bugti had welcomed these committees and supported the recommendations of the sub-committee, but neither was the parliamentary committee allowed to conclude its final report nor did Gen Musharraf practically implement the recommendations of the sub-committee. He continue his most aggressive and counterproductive policy of attacking Dera Bugti and other districts of Balochistan with full force, which resulted in the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti and his innumerable followers.

In his article Gen Musharraf conveniently omitted to mention his public threat to Nawab Bugti: “You will not know what has hit you.” This was no hollow threat, it was executed on Aug 26, 2006. And to add to the heinousness of the crime, the remains of Nawab Akbar Bugti were kept in a locked coffin. None of his blood relations, family members, followers and admirers of the Bugti tribe were allowed to see his face or to offer even funeral prayers before the locked coffin was buried. Perhaps, even now none of the family members and admirers of the Nawab are allowed to visit his grave. We still don’t know what is in the locked coffin.

This shocking treatment meted out to Nawab Bugti and others naturally resulted in a wave of anger not only in Balochistan but also all over Pakistan. It appears that either the Musharraf regime was oblivious of the consequences or wilfully pushed the Baloch to the wall.

(To be continued)

The writer, a former senator, attorney general and federal minister, is a Supreme Court advocate. Email: ihaider45@yahoo.com