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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pakistan: The state Of the federation

Pakistan: The state Of the federation

By amicus • Oct 17th, 2012 • Category: Lead Story •3 Comments

Faced with multiple challenges and crises, the state of Pakistan is passing through the most critical phase of its history since 1970-71.
The performance record of the present government is abysmally poor. But it is also difficult to be optimistic about the future.
One wonders:
Will the law and order situation allow the general elections to take place by or in the spring of 2013?
Will the political leadership and/or military establishment consider it appropriate to proceed with the holding of free and fair general elections regardless of what are the poll-results?
Will the outcome of the general elections, if they are held, strengthen the federation or prove ominous for the country?
What option is likely to be availed if the general elections are postponed indefinitely?
These are some of the questions that agitate the mind. There are so many aspects and dimensions of the current situation and so many perspectives to look at it from that one finds it quite difficult to speculate about what is in the store. At times state institutions and government functionaries are seen working at cross purposes. Nevertheless an attempt to understand some of the complex issues is worth making:
The year 2008 seemed a watershed in Pakistan’s history. A fresh beginning was made after the general elections and exit of General Pervez Musharraf from the corridors of power. Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani pledged not to interfere in the politics of the country and let the politicians perform their job. The civil society appeared assertive and strong. On the restoration of pre-November 2007 Supreme Court, it appeared that at last a new era of the supremacy of constitution and the rule of law might dawn in Pakistan.
However, slowly and gradually it became clear that Kayani had failed to fulfill his solemn promise. Be that the issue of Raymond David or Memogate, meteoric rise of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) or alleged formation of the Defa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC), disruption of NATO supplies after the Salala incident or resumption of these supplies in disregard of the conditions framed by the Parliament, behind the scene maneuvering of the military establishment was visible. It proved that the military’s national security paradigm had not changed.
Whether one likes it or not, though in somewhat diluted form, the reality of the army’s omnipresence is very much there. Bribing the politicians or threatening them with dire consequences is a small thing. It seems the military establishment defines certain objectives in ‘national interest’ and in order to achieve them adopts all means at its disposal, including extra-judicial killings. One is bound to suspect the security agencies’ hands in some of the ‘terror’ incidents that are attributed to particular groups or elements to bring bad name to them. In the age of electronic media it has become easier to mold or give a particular direction to public opinion. The military establishment has sufficient funds and some implanted personnel in media groups to fulfill its agenda. But then there are also people in the media groups who seem to receive funds from foreign powers and are vocal in.
What hurts the military establishment is that the United States wants to rein in the ISI that is the architect of the policy of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. It seems there are also people in the media groups who receive funds from foreign powers to paint the security agencies in extremely bad color.
One of the most serious challenges faced by the Pakistani federation is how to deal with the insurgency in Balochistan province, a region which has become the hotbed of foreign powers’ rivalry because of its geopolitical and strategic significance.
Balochistan has the potentials to serve as a transit trade route and energy corridor to and from the Central Asian Republics via Afghanistan. The development of the Gwadar Port and the prospect of Chinese presence on the Arabian Sea near the mouth of the Gulf is a source of much discomfort to the United States. As long as the NATO/ISAF forces are stationed in Afghanistan, Balochistan offers one of the important supply routes to cater to their needs. Obviously India and the United States dislike involvement of China in Balochistan, particularly in Gwadar Port. Perhaps there is sufficient evidence with Pakistan’s security agencies to suggest that India and the United States are fomenting trouble in Balochistan to hinder progress on mega projects underway with Chinese cooperation.
The Baloch people have a long list of grievances which are mostly just and well-known and need not be repeated here. Lately the issue has started getting internationalized. A few months ago some US Congressmen raised it and condemned Pakistan government and law enforcement/security agencies for their high-handedness in dealing with the Baloch people.
Recently a UN working group was here on a fact-finding mission. It visited several Pakistani cities and held meetings with politicians, government functionaries and the family members of the missing persons who have allegedly been picked up by the military-controlled security agencies. There are also cases of the persons who were allegedly taken into custody by these agencies and whose death bodies were later found under mysterious circumstances. The UN working group is to submit its report to the UN Human Rights Council.
To political observers’ utter surprise, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal returned to Pakistan in September from self-imposed exile to depose before the Supreme Court in the law and order and human rights violation case. His Six-Point Charter which he presented on the occasion is virtually an indictment of the military establishment and representative of Baloch people’s perception. Mengal’s Six-Point Charter says:
1. All covert and overt military operations against Baloch people should be ended immediately.
2. All missing persons should be produced before the court of law.
3. All proxy death squads operating in a manner like Al Shams and Al Badar operated (in Bangladesh) allegedly under the supervision of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded.
4. Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies.
5. Persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of bodies of Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice.
6. Measures should be initiated for rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition.
Although Sardar Mengal compared his Six-Point Charter with Sheikh Mujib-ur Rehman’s Six Points on the basis of which the Awami League had contested the general elections of December 1970, this comparison is not valid because Sheikh Mujib’s Six Points had provided for a constitutional scheme that would have safeguarded the political and economic interests of erstwhile East Pakistan whereas Sardar Mengal’s Six points lack any such content.
According to Sardar Mengal, “general amnesty, development packages and apologies” would not work and Pakistan Government should negotiate with true representatives and not “manufactured” representatives of the Baloch people.
Although in the eyes of neutral observers Mengal’s indictment has much substance, Pakistan Government and the military establishment have rejected them in totality, implying that non-state actors and/or foreign agents are responsible for killings and forced disappearances in Balochistan or that some of the missing persons have actually left their homes to join various anti-state outfits like Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
It is clear from Sardar Mengal’s statement that the devolution of power under the Eighteenth Amendment, the Seventh National Finance Commission Award and the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Programme are not sufficient steps to settle the Balochistan issue. Some bold initiative needs to be taken.
The ISPR quoted Chief of the Army Staff as having said: “Army fully supports any political process as long as it is within the Constitution.” It is said that the ISPR wanted to dispel the impression that the army was an impediment in a political solution of the Balochistan issue. Thanks to the Army Chief. One could have asked: Is it the business of the Army Chief to comment on a political issue? Is patriotism the exclusive monopoly of the armed forces? Is it not that the Army Chief had to clarify his position because the army is very much involved in the matter? But then, as stated above, the army’s role is a hard reality of Pakistani politics which one has to admit perforce. By making this unguarded comment the Army Chief has also accepted by implication that Pakistan’s territorial integrity is at stake.
The security agencies’ misdeeds in Balochistan have been thoroughly exposed during hearing of the law and order and human rights violation case in the Supreme Court. The Interim Order of the Supreme Court issued on October 12, 2012 admits that the situation in Balochistan is extremely grim. It says that the provincial government has failed to establish the writ of law and has lost the authority to govern the province in accordance with the Constitution.
The Order adds that except for deploying the Frontier Corps troops, the Federal Government has not taken any effective measures to protect the province from internal disturbances. The Supreme Court has referred to Federal Government’s responsibility under Article 148 (3) of the Constitution. This article says: “It shall be the duty of the Federation to protect every Province against external aggression and internal disturbances and to ensure that the Government of every Province is carried on in accordance with the provision of the Constitution.”
Apparently the Supreme Court is exhorting the Federal Government for some type of direct intervention in Balochistan.
Now if free and fair elections are held in Balochistan, allowing the Baloch nationalists/separatists or their nominees/proxies to participate in them as demanded by Mengal, it is very likely that they would secure majority in the provincial assembly and acquire the status of legitimate representatives of the Baloch people. What if after winning the elections they become reluctant to arrive at a settlement within the framework of the Constitution and announce to part ways. (Remember Awami League’s mandate of1970-71) This is not an unlikely scenario considering the fact that the United States and India are opposed to China’s role in Balochistan and may seek its secession by encouraging the separatists.
In view of the seriousness of the situation, it is necessary that some viable understanding is arrived at with the separatists/nationalists before they are allowed to contest the elections. Sardar Mengal is relatively moderate and may serve as a mediator between Pakistan Government/military establishment and the separatists/nationalists or his party may be facilitated during the elections.
It is also important that the limits of tolerance of the United States and India should be taken into consideration while giving any foothold to China in Balochistan. When elephants fight grass is crushed.
If no steps are taken, the Balochistan issue would continue to haunt the country. Pakistan Armed Forces would continue to confront insurgency. The Baloch nationalists would continue to target armed forces personnel and Punjabi settlers. The mega projects would remain unimplemented. The foreign powers would have a fertile ground to interfere and Pakistan’s territorial integrity would remain at stake.
Another serious problem in Balochistan is that of sectarianism. It is the fault of Pakistan government that it did not take proper and timely cognizance of the turf war between Saudi Arabia and Iran on its soil. Soon after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the conservative Arab Kingdoms and Sheikhdoms had made it incumbent upon themselves to contain the impact of revolutionary and populist ideas from spreading to neighboring countries and to prevent emergence of any Shia bloc under the leadership of Iran in the Middle East.
Since early 1980s, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have been funding Sunni militant outfits to counter and suppress Shia community in Pakistan. The Hazara of Balochistan, who profess Shia version of Islam, have become regular victims of target killing. The sectarian conflict has virtually divided the areas of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, between Sunni Pakhtuns and Shia Hazaras.
It is the responsibility of Pakistan Government de jure and of the military establishment de facto to address the issue of sectarianism with heavy hand and simultaneously communicate to the governments of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran that interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs is unacceptable.
Before the Musharraf government took U-turn in Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy in September 2001, the situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA was stable. Despite the presence of a large number of local Taliban and foreign militants, including Al-Qaeda elements, the tribal belt was peaceful. The Taliban were supposed to play an important role in Pakistan’s push for strategic depth and one could recognize the friends and foes.
By the end of 2003, Pakistan Armed Forces were at war with Al-Qaeda and some Taliban groups based in the tribal region. Since then there have been no respites – barring the intervals when peace agreements were in place in FATA – for Pakistan Armed Forces whose personnel and installations have become coveted targets of the militants. These militants view Pakistan Armed Forces as an ally of the infidel power – the United States – and therefore a legitimate target of attacks.
The people of Pakistan were vehemently opposed to the post 9/11 occupation of Afghanistan by the US-led coalition forces. To be in the camp of the United States was against their ideological moorings. In order to turn them against the Taliban, it was necessary that the image of the Taliban be distorted and the Taliban should be made to adopt policies that alienated the people of Pakistan. The Taliban who had been shocked by the treachery of Pakistan Government and faced the fire-power of the Pakistan Armed Forces, whom hitherto they had considered a reliable friend, became an easy prey. They failed to maintain their unity and the CIA and RAW agents within their ranks were able to create staunchly anti-Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The anti-Pakistan factions of Taliban have undergone a change of character. The Deobandi influence has subsided and the TTP is infested with Khwarij and Takfiri elements. They attack Pakistan Armed Forces personnel, Barelvi and Shias. They target mazars and imam bargahs without qualms. They consider those who oppose their brand of Islam as kafirs, muhsriks and murtads. They are responsible for suicide attacks and bomb explosions at public places. They are the ‘bad’ Taliban, nay terrorists. But it was the U-turn in Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy that led to the stage where Pakistan faces what is a ‘fitna’ in religious parlance
But then otherwise ‘moderate’ Muslims are also getting radicalized due to regular US drone attacks inside Pakistani territory that kill a lot of innocent people including women and children. The US policy in the Middle East, inhuman treatment meted out to the inmates of Guantanamo Bay and erstwhile Abu Gharaib and Bagram prisons, publication of blasphemous caricatures, disrespect shown to Holy Quran by US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, production of blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims” and the like events that recur to infuriate common Muslims. Some of them are influenced by international Islamic movements and consider it their religious obligation to cooperate with the anti-US militants. No surprise that militants who attacked the GHQ, the Mehran base and the Karma base had their supporters within these installations.
The Taliban are not a monolithic body. The Afghan Taliban still demonstrate admirable restraint and want to be on friendly terms with Pakistan. The Haqqani group is unmistakably pro-Pakistan. But the end to militancy by the TTP is not in sight. Pakistan needs to open negotiations with them. They may be assured that Pakistan Armed Forces would cause no harm to them. Peace agreements should be concluded afresh with solemnity. Otherwise the blunder committed in September 2001 will take indefinite toll. Military operations will further radicalize them and swell their ranks. They may declare establishment of an independent Islamic Emirate in the region. The Pakistan Armed Forces would be sucked into a protracted and unwinnable war.
If general elections are held in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, the Awami National Party (ANP) is likely to be routed because of its pro-military establishment posturing and due to rampant corruption that has marred its government. The PTI may emerge as the largest party because of its anti-Americanism and consistent opposition of drone attacks, provided it is able to properly organize itself before the polls.
In Sindh, it is essentially the nature of relationship between various ethnic groups, in particular the Sindhis and Mohajirs that deserves special attention.
One very sensible thing that the Musharraf government had done was the formation of Karachi City District Government (KCDG) which was a compromise between outright subordination of Karachi’s administrative set up to Sindhi-dominated provincial government and creation of a separate province likely to be dominated by the Mohajirs.
Although under an arrangement the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had remained on the side lines when first elections for the KCDG were held, it showed restraint and Karachi became a peaceful city. After the induction of MQM-led KCDG, a lot of development work was done and it seemed that the good old days of Karachi might return back.
In the aftermath of the general elections of 2008, the MQM became a coalition partner of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at the federal and provincial levels but could not save the KCDG. Karachi as the hub of country’s commercial activities has a unique charm. Its prime and costly land attracts those who have opportunity to grab it by fair or foul means. The PPP was not prepared to leave Karachi in the hands of the MQM. It planned to have a strong foothold in down town Karachi.
Cornered by the PPP’s tacit understanding with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) not to wean the MQM, and faced with a continuous influx of Pakhtuns that strengthened the ANP in parts of Karachi, the MQM failed to influence the PPP’s policy with its usual tactics. Under the patronage of the PPP Provincial Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, the People’s Peace Committee began encroaching upon the areas in old city where previously the MQM had its sway. Simultaneously the PPP government ignored the ANP’s growing power in areas where there was substantial Pashtun presence.
During last four years, the MQM’s hold on Karachi has got somewhat diluted. Karachi has become a theatre of target killings in which workers of the MQM, the PPP, the ANP and others lose their lives regularly. Simultaneously, sectarian killings also continue side by side which is particularly disturbing for the MQM because its appeal on the basis of Mohajir identity transcends sectarian divide. Any Sunni-Shia conflict is bound to weaken the MQM more than any other party.
The MQM understands that the population of Pakhtuns and Punjabis is swelling in Karachi to the detriment of the Mohajirs. It realizes that a perpetual Sindhi-Mohajir alliance can help the two communities – they have no other place to go – to protect Sindh’s interests otherwise the continuous influx of the Pakhtuns and Punjabis would become a threat to domination of Sindhis also.
It is only recently that as a part of its electoral strategy the PPP changed its stance and agreed to promulgate Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance 2012. The new law provides for establishment of metropolitan corporations in urban Sindh: Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkhana and Mirpur Khas. This has provided some solace to the MQM.
However, the Sindhi nationalists – most of them are on the pay roll of Punjab-dominated security agencies – have started a campaign against the SPLGO 2012, representing it as the harbinger of division of Sindh, and vilifying the PPP as a party which is working against the interests of Sindh. The way they incite the Sindhis and appeal to their emotions is a threat to the peace and tranquility of the province.
The PPP public meeting in Khairpur was attacked leaving seven persons dead. There have been threats and grenade/cracker attacks on the houses of the PPP legislators. Who could have been be the master-mind, less said is better. If there is any further breakdown of law and order in the province, it would become difficult to hold fair and free elections in some parts of Sindh.
Although the Sindhi nationalists have considerable nuisance value, the vote bank of the PPP is quite solid. Some erosion in it would be compensated by the support of the Mohajirs if the PPP and the MQM are able to form an electoral alliance.
Allah forbid, if centrifugal forces become strong or at any stage in future the PPP irreclaimably loses support base in Punjab to get restricted to Sindh, the MQM-PPP alliance may pose yet another threat to the territorial integrity of Pakistan. It is in the interest of the country that the parties that have some base and support in all units of the federation survive rather they thrive as connecting link between provinces.
At present, Punjab poses least problem. The PML (N) has governed it in a far better way than any other provincial government. Considerable development work has taken place. Had there been no power outages and gas shortages, Punjab would have flourished remarkably. The PML (N) has foresight to facilitate business with Indian Punjab. Obviously security agencies are on board as if only Punjabis own certificate of patriotism.
The PPP was reluctant to hold general elections in September-October to avoid backlash as a result of energy crisis. The PPP has now concentrated on improving supply of electricity to Punjab on priority basis. Reportedly there has been some improvement in electricity supply.
As an electioneering plank, the PPP has called for creation of a Saraiki or South Punjab Province. Probably it had thought that the PML (N) would be embarrassed. But the PML (N) came up with the idea of making Bahawalpur, which was once a Princely State, a province. Still the PPP is likely to reap benefit for its slogan of Saraiki province.
In the general elections, the PPP and PML (Q) are likely to field joint candidates. The PPP has considerable support in Saraiki region. In other parts the PML (N) is quite strong. But the main challenge to both the PPP and the PML (N) is likely to come from the PTI. Overall the PML (N) seems to have an upper hand. Much depends on Jamaat-i-Islami (JI). If it forms alliance with the PTI, the PML (N) would be in real difficulty. Ultimately, Punjab would decide who wins Islamabad.
Getting cue from the past one feels that the Civil and military establishment would like the general elections to be postponed for at least three years. But presently the army is not in a position to take over the government directly. Leaving aside constitutional niceties, it would prefer a government of technocrats in the saddle in Islamabad that is amenable to its advice and directions.
The politicians, in and out of parliament, would like the general elections to take place by March 2013. But what is expected is a hung parliament with the PML (N), the PTI and the PPP getting major slices of the cake.
May be a better solution is to have general elections on time with, if at all necessary, then formation of a national government with the backing of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

PPP-MQM accord on the structure of local government in Sindh.

By amicus • Sep 13th, 2012 • Category: Lead Story •One Response
Although MQM had joined the Sindh and Federal Governments as a coalition partner of the PPP after the general elections of 2008, it seemed helpless when it was deprived of the Karachi City District Government formed under the Local Government Ordinance of 2001.
Perhaps there was some tacit understanding between the PPP and the PML (N) not to allow the MQM to take undue advantage of its bargaining position and this greatly restricted the MQM’s options in dealing with the PPP.
The MQM did not succeed to impress upon the PPP the need to continue with the system of city government in Karachi, introduced by the Local Government Ordinance of 2001, which offered a good, midway and viable solution between an administration controlled by the Sindh Government and making Karachi a separate province.
The promulgation of Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance 2012 on September 7, which appears to be a combination of the local government systems provided in the ordinances of 1979 and 2001, has led to speculation about the selection of its timing and purpose.
The reaction of the Sindhi nationalists, the Sindh-based parties and the ANP has been prompt. They have rejected it as a device to divide Sindh. The NPP, the PML (F) and the ANP have quit the Sindh Government. It is obvious these parties intend to exploit the situation for political gains at a time when general elections are not far away.
Sindhi nationalists and Sindh-based parties want to appeal to the emotions of people of Sindh, who believe in the unity of Sindh as if it is an article of faith. The stakes of the ANP are confined to Karachi where there is a large population of their followers. Its main concern is with the advantage that will accrue to the MQM by the promulgation of SPLGO 2012.
PPP seems to have made the move calculatedly. It wants to ensure that the MQM remains attached to it at a time when the general elections are within sight. The PPP understands that the ethnic Sindhis have emotional attachment to it, which has endured in even extremely adverse circumstances, and it can afford to take risk. Except for a few non-PPP leaders, who win because of their personal or clan clout, the PPP does not expect to lose much in interior Sindh. In fact, if it is able to forge electoral alliance or understanding with the MQM, the Mohajir support to the PPP candidates in rural Sindh can strengthen its position greatly.
For the PPP, in the worst case, the ANP is expendable not only at provincial level, where its representation is insignificant, but at federal level also because the chances of its faring well in the next general elections may not be that bright.
For the MQM, it is important to demonstrate to its supporters that at least it has been able to achieve substantial concession from the PPP. It cannot go to its voters empty-handed. It also wants to convey the message that in view of the treatment meted out to it by the PML (N), it has no option other than to go along with the PPP.
If the MQM gets assurance from the PPP that no attempt would be made to dislodge it from any of the constituencies from where it has been winning in urban Sindh, it is likely to cooperate with the PPP in rural areas of the province. If they remain welded, the PPP and the MQM can deny the PML (N) and the Sindhi nationalists any chances of forming even a coalition government in Sindh.
Despite the directive by the Supreme Court, no provincial government has shown willingness to hold local bodies’ elections in the near future, maybe because no ruling coalition, other than the one in Sindh, is sure of its strength.
It is not clear if the PPP and the MQM have any intention to hold local bodies’ elections in Sindh before the general elections. However, if these elections are held in Sindh, they are likely to prove advantageous to the two parties because of their strong position in the province. With local bodies, including municipal and metropolitan corporations under them, the PPP and the MQM may find it convenient to influence the results of the general elections to their benefit.
The holding of local bodies’ elections in Sindh may also cause building of pressure on other provincial governments to go for the same with adverse consequences.
These are telltale signs of general elections may, after all, not come to pass on time. Besides, it may do no harm to MQM-PPP even if local bodies’ polls do not precede the general elections. Coalition of the duo fore tells both want an Election Alliance for both the elections in any order of precedence. For some it may be self-serving but for them it is coming of age.
That said PPP, for now stems the dithering existential alliance with Muthahida Qaumi Movement. In the process PPP has lost important and diverse coalition partners in Sindh and at the Centre and even within the party. The move may be tactically justifiable not strategically. In principal PPP has conceded the system of City Government introduced by Mr. Pervez Musharraf in 2001/2.
The Local government ordinance 2001/2 was never acted upon on important provisions of Land Control, Police to name a few. It remains to be seen, how the new legislation is fashioned in that dimension opposed to PPP-MQM coalition.
It also remains to be seen if the Ordinance is placed before the provincial assembly and how soon. Electoral contest in Sindh is shaping up.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


(JUNE 20, 2012)


The President has taken it for granted that he enjoys immunity without even formally claiming it in a court of law. He thinks and behaves as if he is above the law.

The Speaker of the National Assembly declined to ruled that as a result of the conviction of the Prime Minister a question had arisen whether he has become disqualified from being a member of the Parliament. She declined to send the matter to the Election Commission as per Art.63 (1)(g) (2).

The National Assembly passed resolutions reposing confidence in a convicted Prime Minister and supporting the Speaker’s decision not to send the matter of Prime Minister’s disqualification or otherwise as a member of National Assembly to the Election Commission.

The Prime Minister did not consider his conviction by the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case as a sufficient reason to step down and had to be disqualified, on June 19, 2012, by a three member bench of the Supreme Court with effect from April 26, 2012. Hence Pakistan does not have a Prime Minister or Federal Cabinet.

A reporter enquired from Winston Churchill in the midst of the Battle of Britain as to how the United Kingdom was faring during those dark hours. Churchill responded by asking: “Are the courts working?” “Yes”, replied the reporter. “Then Britain is fine,” said Churchill confidently.

Nations have overcome extremely difficult, challenging and threatening situations with healthy, strong and vibrant state institutions.

Although the history of Pakistan’s superior judiciary in dealing with politico-constitutional matters had hardly anything to be proud of, still the restoration of pre-November 2007 Supreme Court Judges in March 2009 created the hope that a new era of the supremacy of constitution and rule of law would dawn in the country.

But what one witnessed since then was a game of hide-and-seek between the superior judiciary and the executive. The executive successfully dilly-dallied implementation of the Supreme Court’s directives in a number of matters, as a result of which the confidence of the people began to erode in the efficacy of the legal system even under restored superior judiciary.

Apparently, the Supreme Court was in a fix. If it issued directives to improve governance in specific areas, it undertook the risk of encroaching upon the domain of the executive. If it took up politically sensitive cases, like that of May 12, 2007 mayhem, and passed orders, it feared backlash from political forces.

It was determined to not take upon itself the blame for derailing the democratic system.  In order to avoid outright clash of institutions, the Supreme Court moved calculatedly and acted selectively on different issues.

It was a tight-rope walking between judicial restraint and activism.

Simultaneously, their lordships understood that the people were getting disillusioned with the Supreme Court and wanted results. Even protracted proceedings had to come to an end.

The conviction of the Prime Minister in the contempt of court case by the Supreme Court, and its observations and directives in the missing persons’ case caused considerable embarrassment to the executive and the military establishment respectively.

Although at times the Supreme Court appeared helpless in getting its orders and directives implemented, its proceedings and their lordships’ observations were widely reported in electronic media and contributed to the shaping of adverse public opinion about the government and military-controlled intelligence agencies.

And now we have this so-called bombshell in the form of Malik Riaz’s charges against, Doctor Iftikhar Arsalan the son of the Chief Justice, that the latter is ‘a don who blackmailed him and his relatives into giving nearly Rs.320 million apart from other benefits.’

The charges against Arsalan Iftikhar have, just by virtue of his office, cast direct aspersions on the person of the CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who holds the most respectful office, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which is the most sacrosanct state institution.

If due to any reason one’s reputation is tainted, it becomes extremely difficult to exercise moral authority.

There are reasons to believe that the Chief Justice was informed by different persons about the activities of his son, including Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan. He does not have excuse that he was completely unaware.

It may progressively be a challenge for Honourable Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to lead the Apex Court in future with same dignity and sense of purpose, however, his decision of June 19, 2012 does show otherwise.

That said, virtually the executive-legislature combine and the judiciary are at loggerheads on more than one issue.  The bars are on the streets. What if the lawyers get divided into hostile camps or cracks appear within the benches? Whither the respect of black coats and robes if this happens?

Yet another casualty of Arsalan Iftikhar affairs is the media. Some anchors are virtually at each other’s throats. Those who used to deliver lectures from high pedestals are rubbing their noses in the dust. The people are aghast to learn that those who gave lofty sermons had their price tags.

Apparently Malik Riaz’s allegations aimed at not only disgracing the Chief Justice but bringing into disrepute the august institution of the Supreme Court, at a time when the Supreme Court was seized of the matters of the National Assembly Speaker’s decision not to send the question of the Prime Minister’s likely disqualification to the Election Commission (hereafter referred to as the Speaker’s ruling case) and the picking-up and killings of Baloch nationalists allegedly at the hands of the FC.

The people had a rude shock when they came to know of Malik Riaz’s charges against Arsalan Iftikhar. The Chief Justice immediately took suo- moto notice of the matter, but it seemed that the damage to his reputation had been done. There came reports that some individuals, including Barrister Aitzaz Ahsen, had cautioned the Chief Justice about the activities of Arsalan Iftikhar months before Malik Riaz’s ‘disclosure’ but the Chief Justice had ignored their advice.

The airing of the controversial footage of conversation between anchors (Mubashir Luqman and Meher Bukhari) and Malik Riaz, recorded before the beginning and during the commercial break of Malik Riaz’s interview to Dunya channel, came as a God-sent gift to the Chief Justice and the Apex Court.

Most of the other channels projected the interview as ‘fixed’ with ‘planted’ questions solely meant to discredit the Supreme Court. This was like reading too much in the episode but the Chief Justice got something to fall back upon.

As things stand today the Supreme Court has directed the Attorney General to investigate the charges against Arsalan Iftikhar. It has called the above mentioned interview of Malik Riaz a conspiracy against the judiciary without clearly pinpointing who was its author.

It was certain that the Supreme Court will expedite the proceedings in the Speaker’s Ruling Case and deliver its adverse judgment within days and that has come to pass.

Unusually the Supreme Court Judges watched the controversial footage of Dunya TV in the presence of media and the same was telecast from different channels.  

Although internally the lawyers are divided and confused, they are on the streets condemning what they term as an attempt to malign the Chief Justice and an assault on the independence of the judiciary. There is an effort to enact the scenes of 2007 when the Chief Justice was removed by a military dictator, yet as of now the same enthusiasm is lacking.

The ruling coalition led by the PPP has declared the action of the Speaker of the National Assembly in not sending the matter of the Prime Minister’s disqualification to the Election Commission as justified and has declared that the government would investigate the Arsalan Iftikhar affair to find out the truth.

No doubt in a country like Pakistan one cannot rule out the possibility of a conspiracy against the apex court hatched by the quarters that are not happy with the present Chief Justice and have reservations about some of the orders and directives of the Supreme Court.  

That said, conspiracies usually take place when there are some weaknesses in those against whom they are aimed at. What may come next for the Chief Justice, may be a matter of conjecture but there is lot of room for it and potential too.

The questions arise: First, what if more allegations with incriminating evidences, including videos and audio recordings, against Arsalan Iftikhar come to light? Secondly, will the things be the same again even if without further damage the dust settles down?   

A dispassionate analysis of the crisis would suggest that the maintenance of the moral authority of the Supreme Court is of paramount importance. Prima facie the Chief Justice could not have been completely ignorant of his son’s activities, especially when the Chief Justice’s other family members had, allegedly, also enjoyed lavish stay in London.

The Supreme Court is an august body. It does not look nice if it indulges in populism or politicking, directly or through bar councils and media.

The impression that their lordships have started enjoying projection on electronic media, often their remarks during the proceedings appear as if they are meant for public consumption, is not going well with the people.

We know for certain that within the bar there are lawyers loyal to different political parties and if the crisis continues, it is very likely that bars may get divided into hostile camps. Within the benches also there is no surety that all judges consider Chief Justice above reproach.

In due course cracks may appear within the benches also. Pakistan cannot afford the casualty of another state institution. The judiciary should not get polarized or politicized.

It is also important that the Supreme Court should do some introspection to see if it has come to the expectations of common man in other respects. As an institution, the Judiciary has failed to dispense cheap and prompt justice. The backlog of cases casts a bad impression. The High Courts have not fulfilled their supervisory role over their respective subordinate courts properly.

The rampant corruption, miscarriage of justice, delayed and poor quality of judgments at lower levels make a mockery of the judicial system in Pakistan.

It is time the superior judiciary gave more importance to the hardship of common people and reform the whole system instead of focussing only on high profile cases.

The people have had overdose of politics, they yearn for solution of their everyday problems which have direct impact on their lives. This is the essence of what Churchill had meant when he said: “Then Britain is fine.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pity the State

By amicus • May 27th, 2012 • Category: Politics •3 Comments
Instead of letting the Election Commission form opinion in the matter of disqualification of Prime Minister Gilani, she has decided not to refer the question to the Election Commission relying on precedents that are not applicable / suitable.
The conviction of Prime Minister Gilani under Article 204 (2) by the Supreme Court and the Court’s observation that the findings and the conviction for contempt of court are “. . . . likely to entail some serious consequences in terms of Article 63 (1) g of the Constitution” for Prime Minister Gilani provided sufficient ground to conclude that the question had arisen whether Prime Minister had become disqualified from being a member of Majlis-i-Shoora and the Speaker was constitutionally bound to refer the matter to the Election Commission.
Although, prima facie, the Speaker’s decision is biased and mala fide or based at least on faulty understanding of law and facts, technically the matter has ended. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision in Prime Minister Gilani’s intra-court appeal, his position is presently safe from legal point of view.
If any petition is moved in the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Speaker, it would result in another time-consuming proceeding and maybe another intra-court appeal.
The whole episode has raised questions about the efficacy of our constitutional and legal system. It has served as yet another factor in eroding the people’s trust in democratic dispensation. First the vote of confidence passed by the National Assembly in a convicted Prime Minister and now a blatantly biased ruling of the Speaker has demonstrated that Pakistan’s democracy is dysfunctional.
No one would like the system to derail but such developments are ominous for the country. It is time one heeded to the observation of the Chief Justice which he made during the hearing of a petition in Quetta on May 23: “All major political players should keep in mind that non-implementation of the Constitution had led to imposition of martial law more than once.” Dys-functional State Order, is recipe for disaster. It is such an impasse when choice between State and Constitution is forced on the other functional state organs. We seem to have arrived there, the impasse.Constitutional deviation is logical out come of dys- functionality of organs of state. Deviation is justified when Constitutional Order implodes or explode. Right now we are heading towards, precisely that, implosion, collapse and anarchy

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fresh Perspectives of Balochistan Crisis

Fresh Perspectives of Balochistan Crisis

By amicus • Feb 28th, 2012 • Category: Lead Story •No Responses
Fresh Perspectives of Balochistan Crisis

The Baluchistan issue is in the limelight again. The immediate reason being the renewed and excessive focus of the media and human rights groups on the matter of alleged, forced disappearances and discovery of mutilated death bodies of Baluch activists, picked up by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies that are virtually under the control of the country’s military establishment.
The proceedings in the Supreme Court in the matter of ‘missing persons’ have also brought into open horrible stories of brutality and inhuman treatment, alleged, meted out to those in the unlawful custody of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Military Intelligence (MI) and FC. Initially In 2007, “Pakistan’s Supreme Court Chief Justice gained wide notoriety when he demanded that General Musharraf account for the for the thousands of Pakistanis who had been disappeared”.
The relentless efforts of the relatives of the ‘missing persons’ to know their whereabouts have led credence to the premise that the ISI and the MI work as ‘a state within the state’ and are responsible not only for unlawful detention of citizens under suspicion but often their extra-judicial executions.
The issue of Baluchistan is now drawing the attention of international community.
It is ominous that on February 8, 2012, the US Congress’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation held hearing on the Baluchistan issue and accused the Pakistan government of broad human rights abuses against the Baluch people.
In response, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a resolution condemning the Congressional hearing on Baluchistan and termed it as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and breach of international law. Pakistan Foreign Office also lodged a protest against the Congressional hearings.
On February 17, 2012, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, together with two other lawmakers, tabled a resolution in the House of Representatives that says that in Pakistan, the Baluch people are subjected to violence and extra-judicial killings.
The resolution which is still to be voted upon adds that the Baluch people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country; and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.”
Although the resolution has no legal force and the State Department has clarified that “it is not the policy of the Administration to support independence for Baluchistan,” it is a matter of grave concern for Pakistan. The United States has called for a negotiated settlement of Baluchistan issue.
As the things are unfolding internally and at international level, it is important that the Baluchistan issue is addressed with utmost seriousness and urgency.
Briefly speaking, the narrative of the Baluch nationalists goes;
Baluchistan was not historically a part of the Indian/ South Asian Subcontinent. The Khanate of Kalat was an independent entity. As a result of its ‘forward policy’ to counter Russian southward expansion, the British interference in the region increased and Baluchistan was sucked into the Subcontinent.
At the time of independence of the Subcontinent, the Khan of Kalat was reluctant to accede to Pakistan. The upper and lower houses of Kalat’s legislature opposed the State’s accession to Pakistan. However, Kalat and other Baluchistan States were annexed by the Pakistan government through a show of military might.
Since then the Baluch people have always been denied their just and legitimate rights and deprived of their due share in the resources of Baluchistan. Even a process of ‘colonization’ of Baluchistan is underway. The so-called mega projects are also designed to benefit the outsiders.
The Punjabi political elite and the Punjabi military establishment are not prepared to provide even bare necessities to the Baluch people. Baluchistan has remained backward in every respect.
Whenever the Baluch people have demanded autonomy and their due share in the natural resources, the Pakistan government has resorted to military action. This happened under Ayub, Bhutto and Musharraf regimes. The Baluch nationalists have always been accused of being traitors and at different times of having contacts with the Soviet Union, India, even Iraq and now the United States.
The agencies have adopted ‘kill and dump’ policy to terrorize the Baluch people and as a last resort, the Baluch nationalists contend, they have taken up arms to liberate their motherland.
There is a narrative that is obviously different:
Following the elections of 1970, the ethno-nationalist National Awami Party (NAP) won the largest block of seats in both Balochistan and what is now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and formed governments in both provinces with the political support of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam.
Following the 1971 civil war in which East Pakistan, with India’s assistance, became Bangladesh, the NAP government finally took control of the provincial government and tried to correct some of the developmental, economic, and political problems of the province.
Pakistan’s first elected Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, opposed such reforms, fearing that they would undermine the Punjabis, Pakistan’s dominant ethnic group, and other non-Baloch who also have huge stakes in the province.
In 1973, the Pakistani authorities, under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, invaded Balochistan, after they raided the Iraqi Embassy in Islamabad, discovering 300 Soviet submachine guns and 48,000 rounds of ammunition. Although it was alleged that the American officials knew the weapons were meant for Baloch rebels in Iran, the government claimed that Iraq was planning to transfer the arms to Pakistan’s Baloch.
The elected provincial government was dismissed, Governor’s Rule imposed, and the central government dispatched 80,000 troops to fight 55,000 Baloch guerrillas.
Iran provided 30 Cobra helicopters with their own pilots to help Pakistan put down any insurrection, owing its own problems with its ethnic Baloch, who struggle under ethnic discrimination and, as they are Sunni, Shia domination. In the end, about 3,300 Pakistani army soldiers died, as well as 5,000 militants and thousands more innocent civilians.
After Bhutto’s government was toppled by General Zia-ul-Haq on July 5, 1977 and subsequently, his government launched several development projects, such as road construction, expansion of power transmission, and building small dams, in hopes of appeasing Baluchistan’s residents. Zia also ensured that Quetta received Sui gas for the first time even though deposits had been discovered in Balochistan some four decades earlier.
The previous governments of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif tried to introduce such mega projects in this province but failed owing to political uncertainty. President General Pervez Musharraf finally took a very bold initiative and in 2002. The most recent insurgent violence began with General Musharraf’s seizure of power in 1999. In particular, Musharraf outraged many in the province when he announced the development of the deep-water port at Gwadar (a huge project being carried out in partnership with the Chinese) and the construction of two army cantonments.
While many Baloch see the army cantonments as part of Pakistan’s “colonizing presence,” the Pakistan army has long sought to increase the number of Baloch in its ranks. This desire stems from the belief—long held by the Pakistan army—that the institution must reflect the population from which it draws.
Achieving this goal has proved a challenge because fewer Baloch meet the educational standards and/or wish to join the Pakistan army. In response, the army has built cadet schools in Quetta and elsewhere, in the hopes of increasing the number of recruits from the province. Pakistan’s army has long dominated the state, and its extensive welfare system is the best in the country.
The Baloch ethnic group is the largest in the province, it is not known definitively whether or not its members comprise the majority of the province’s inhabitants as the census is both out of date (from 1998) and does not ask about ethnicity. Be that, it is, however, suggested that Baloch are the largest group in the province (followed by the Pashtuns and the Brahvi, but it falls short of forming a majority of the population.
In addition to these three largest ethnic groups, Balochistan is also home to Sindhis and Punjabis. Using the 1998 Pakistani census data on mother tongue as a proxy for ethnicity, those who claim the Baloch language are a slight majority (55 %), followed by Pashto speakers (30 %), Punjabi (three %), and Saraiki (two %). Those who speak Urdu (the national language) comprise a mere one % (Pakistan Census, 1998).
However, the census does not distinguish Brahvi speakers from Baloch speakers, even though the two languages are linguistically distinct and completely unrelated.
This is one reason why some scholars are wary of declaring Baloch the majority ethnic group while others insist that they are the majority community of the province.
Determining Baluchistan’s ethnic composition is complicated by Pakistan’s census. The census is supposed to be decennial, but has been deeply politicized since the 1980s. The 1981 census was delayed until 1998. This extraordinary delay was due in part to the Pakistan government’s hope that many of the millions of Afghan refugees who had flocked to Pakistan would return to Afghanistan before the census was conducted.
Balochistan, along with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK, formerly Northwest Frontier Province, (NWFP) has hosted millions of Afghan refugees since 1979. While Pashtuns had lived in Balochistan long before the Afghan crises unfolded, there can be little doubt that developments across the border have altered the ethnic, political, and even religious and social fabrics of the province, as many Afghans and their offspring have acquired Pakistani national identity cards and have made Pakistan their home.
As of January 2012, there were more than 1.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2012). Current figures for Balochistan in particular are not available, but in 2010 there were more than 406,000 Afghan refugees in the province (UNHCR, 2010).
It says that the British government had made it amply clear that Baluchistan, including its native states, was a part and parcel of the Indian/South Asian Subcontinent. The Baluchistan States had no option of independence.
At one time or the other, the Khan of Kalat and at other some Baluch Sardars, particularly the chiefs of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes, have resented and resisted the legitimate authority of the Pakistan government and hindered the development programmes, including the implementation of the mega projects, in Baluchistan.
It is the Baluch social structure that is responsible for the province’s backwardness. Take a look at the Baluch Tribes and then juxtapose it with the stance of the Khan of Kalat and the Chiefs of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes, who also find their own tribes divided over the issue and stand, of their leaders. It is also revealed that, with the exception of these four the others have never opted for armed struggle as means for attaining their rights and none has aimed at secession. Baloch Tribes
The official narrative says that the Baluchistan province is sparsely populated and lacks necessary human resource to undertake development projects. The settlement of people from other provinces is, therefore, very natural. Have not the Baluch people settled in Sindh and Punjab?
The official narrative accuses the Baluch nationalists of terrorizing the non-locals. They are involved in target killings and have forced exodus of two to three hundred thousand non-locals, mainly Punjabis, from the province. While Baloch nationalists are wont to call attention to their grievances and losses, they are not the only victims, in many cases they are the perpetrators. Baloch nationalist militants are widely suspected to be the culprits in a wide array of killings of Punjabis, ostensibly to protest Punjabi colonization of the state.
Teachers and police have been particularly vulnerable because they are seen as the representatives of the so-called Punjabi-dominated state generally and the military in particular. The Pakistan army is not as Punjabi-dominated as is widely believed.
The targeted killing of teachers has had a profound impact on the province’s already fragile educational system. There are too few educated persons in Balochistan to supply an adequate numbers of teachers, and the hostile and dangerous environment makes recruiting teachers from other provinces difficult.
The official narrative also decries foreign (read Indian) interference in Baluchistan and blames the Baluch nationalists for seeking foreign military and diplomatic assistance for securing separation of the province. Perforce, the agencies, this narrative asserts, have to take action against terrorists and anti-state elements.
Now the questions that agitate the mind are: Why this sudden concern of the US Congressmen with the situation in Baluchistan? Are they genuinely motivated by Human rights violations in the province? Is the Obama Administration anything to do with the move?
There are various theories that attempt to answer the questions.
According to the conspiracy theory, the ultimate US objective is to secure independence of Baluchistan or the part of it that is adjacent to Iran and Afghanistan to have access from the Arabian Sea through Baluchistan and Afghanistan to Central Asia. It could serve as a transit trade route, energy corridor and logistic passage to promote and safeguard American interests in the region.
Other theories do not take very serious view of the move in the US Congress:
One explanation is that it is just a pressure tactic to compel Pakistan to reopen NATO/ISAF supply lines. A second explanation is that it is meant to prevent Pakistan from going ahead with the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.
Another view is that the United States wants Pakistan to dilute its conditions concerning the composition of future political set-up in Afghanistan. Lastly, there is the view that the United States aims at undermining the role of the ISI as custodian of Pakistan’s national interests.
Here it may be noted that the presence of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad and the treatment meted out to Dr. Afridi, who conducted the fake vaccine campaign to locate Bin Laden, has raised many intriguing questions about the ISI and CIA.
Obviously if we subscribe to any of the above-mentioned theories, it would imply a nexus between the US Congressmen’s move and the policy of the Obama Administration.
At the peak of the so-called American ‘war on terror’, Pakistan had assumed the status of a non-NATO ally of the United States and entered into strategic dialogue with the United States to safeguard its interests.
Simultaneously, on April 5, 2005, Pakistan concluded a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-neighbourly Relations with China, which is more explicit and meaningful than one signed by India with the Soviet Union in August 1971.
The Pakistan-China Friendship Treaty says that, inter alia, the Chinese side appreciates and supports Pakistan’s efforts to settle peacefully all the problems with its neighbouring countries and all efforts to safeguard its state sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
The Treaty also says: “ each Contracting Party shall not join any alliance or bloc which infringes upon the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of other Contracting Party, nor shall it take any action of this nature including the conclusion of treaties of this nature with a third country.”
The Treaty significantly adds that the Contracting Parties shall enhance and consolidate trust and cooperation in the military and security fields to strengthen their security.
The reference to the Pakistan-China Treaty is not meant to suggest that China will fight Pakistan’s war if one is imposed on it but to indicate that at least Pakistan is not alone and can pursue a regional policy that is independent and commensurate with its national power. There is no need to prostrate abjectly before the United States if Pakistan is able to put its house in order.
China has invested in the Gwadar Port and other projects, and also wants to secure transit trade route across Pakistani territory for its western region. Obviously China is an important stake-holder in Baluchistan and will like it to be a stable and peaceful part of Pakistan.
Since last many years, the Iranian government has remained concerned with American interest in Baluchistan as a base to interfere in and destabilize Iran or topple its regime.
During the Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan trilateral summit on February 17, 2012 in Islamabad, the three countries agreed “not to allow any threat emanating from their respective territories against each other and commence trilateral consultations on an agreement in this regard.”
Pakistan has also assured Afghanistan that it would facilitate Afghanistan government’s dialogue with Taliban.
The credit goes to leadership that it has assured Iran that Pakistan would remain committed to the gas pipeline and electricity import projects despite international sanctions.
On the issue of Baluchistan, the interests of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan converge because Baluch people reside in all of them and any turmoil in Pakistani Baluchistan would definitely have impact on the Baluch population in Iran and Afghanistan.
The Baluchistan issue is an extension of the ‘Great Game’ being played for hegemony in resource-rich Central Asia. The United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and even Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have stakes in the region. A comprehensive, all-embracing international understanding on the future of Central Asia can ease situation in Baluchistan also.
In a win-win situation Baluchistan can serve as a transit trade route to and energy corridor from Central Asia via Baluchistan and Afghanistan with a bright future for the Gwadar Port, thus benefitting all stake-holders and opening up new vistas for ECO, SCO and SAARC.
In due course, the pace and prospects of economic development and the need for human resource may overtake the Baluch resentment over settlement of non-locals in Baluchistan.
Internally, the Pakistan government has initiated the Rights of Baluchistan Programme but it has not made headway. The Baluch nationalists consider the programme as mere a cosmetic effort and not to resolve the crisis.
Under the Eighteenth Amendment considerable autonomy is to be conceded to the provinces. If implemented in letter and spirit, some of the grievances of the Baluch nationalists may be addressed through decentralization and devolution of power.
However, there seems to be divergence in the perceptions and policies of the civilian government and the military establishment.
The ISI and the security establishment view the Baluchistan imbroglio more as a security issue than a political one. Apparently the Defence of Pakistan Council, or say the Islamists and other religio-political parties are federalists and have huge stake in Baluchistan. Hence is a force to be reckoned with to counter the Baluch nationalists. This reality is not lost on security establishment of Pakistan.
There is need for the civilian and military leadership to forge a consensus on Baluchistan policy and work in tandem. Negotiations with the Baluch nationalists and removing trust deficit is the only way out.
The agencies should understand that their strong-arm tactics, even if justifiable, are estranging the Baluch people and simultaneously bringing bad name to the country. They should reform themselves.
One recalls with great pain and anguish the traumatic events of 1971 which led to severance of Pakistan’s eastern wing. Immediately after the commencement of military action in East Pakistan, President Nikolai Podgorny of the Soviet Union, President Richard Nixon of the United States and Prime Minister Chou En Lai of the People’s Republic of China had advised President General Yahiya Khan to resolve the crisis through political settlement but the over-confident and arrogant military regime failed to heed the advice which led to catastrophic consequences.
Agreed that the nature of crisis in Baluchistan is qualitatively different from the one in erstwhile East Pakistan, yet the military response is not likely to work and in the present geopolitical context there is a genuine risk that the issue might get out of hands if it is not addressed properly.
The worst thing is that as of today there is no political initiative, emanating from Civil and Military leadership, in tandem, to understand and address the quagmire, which, albeit, is extremely hyperboled in media. Hence the situation appears to be in a free fall mode and rapidly deteriorating. With self-serving interference of the USA it is fast getting internationalised, no matter what the stated policy of the United States as to Baluch Problem being internal issue of Pakistan.
While not at all condoning use of force in Balochistan, the so-called concerns of the USA for Human Rights violation, to put it mildly, are self-serving, self-conceited. It does not behove USA to preach those lofty notions of Human Rights to us. In the last decade alone, USA has not only violated Human Rights of people from Africa, Middle East, Central and West Asia, Pakistan, its people and armed forces being subjected to inhuman and despicable human rights violation by the USA on daily basis. USA | Amnesty International
If the tabling resolution by three US congress person is not the US policy, let’s do the same through some of our own members of the Parliament and debate the visible and abject violation of Human Rights by the USA in above regions and particularly against the people of Pakistan 2001, violation of sovereignty routinely, which has resulted in deaths, maiming, renditions and incarceration of huge number of people.
Instead of making tsunami out of a visible US muscle flexing, just don’t blink, while putting your house in order.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Go to the People.

Mohammed Yousuf
Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 9:49pm
The Supreme Court has made it clear that it would not bestow legitimacy to any extra-constitutional act of taking over the government and the military establishment has given assurance that it does not intend to derail the democratic process.Pakistan Muslim League (N) has shown great maturity by declaring that it will oppose any military intervention. Almost all important political parties have supported the democratic process. Same is the stand taken by the media in general and representatives of the civil society in particular.But then this leads us to the question: what next?
For the PPP leadership it is the time for introspection and soul-searching. It needs to reform itself and become more responsive to people’s demands and aspirations. No one can challenge the authority of the government if it is able to command popular trust and respect.
Obviously the best course for the ruling coalition is to address the grievances of the people and focus on improving the quality of governance. It should address the complaints of corruption, favouritism, nepotism, breakdown in law and order, energy crisis, mismanagement in state corporations, inflation, economic meltdown and other issues. It also has to show that it respects the other institutions of the state as “as it desires to be respected.
If the present slide continues, the people may get completely tired and ultimately become fed up of the civilian rule. The fatigue is already visible. To be frank, it is largely due to the Imran Khan factor that a considerable segment of masses has retained some hope in democratic process.
The PPP should understand that, despite all proclamations in the favour of democracy, there is a thresh hold of tolerance and the army or the Supreme Court may perforce decide to wind up the system in national interests if there is a further deterioration in governance and if the government continues on the collision course.
The possibility of such an eventuality is highly pronounced, despite the clear and forth right announcement by both the institutions, given the propensity of the incumbent Zardari-Gilani dispensation to provoke confrontation with these state institutions.
Such an eventuality will be a reality if they were to indulge in any ill-conceived adventurism against the Army and Judiciary. They ought to take a leaf from the contemporary instances of such adventurism by Nawaz Sharif in 1993 and again by Nawaz Sharif in October 1999.
For the government the best course would be to resign and go to the people for a fresh mandate, but it is a tall order for the incumbent government, although the entire dispensation is crying hoarse thatit believes in the power of ballot.
Hence, given the prevailing environment, for the opposition, the best course available is to resign from the assemblies and force the government to go for the fresh polls.
After the resignations the opposition should simultaneously press for having an independent Election Commission, preparation of fool proof voters’ list as directed by the Supreme Court and peaceful conduct of polling on the day of elections.
It should not insist on resignation or removal of President Zardari as a prerequisite for transparent and fair general elections. Any such demand would be unconstitutional and would set a bad example. As for the President, let the cases before the Supreme Court run its course and the President should honour, abide and bow before the outcome of those cases.
Asfar as the controversial memo is concerned, let there be an inquiry commission by the Supreme Court and let it submit its report to the Supreme Court and let the Supreme Court decide the future line of action and if anyone is found responsible, the laws should take its own course, may it be Haqqani or even the President.
The army has already got over stretched. Its primary responsibility is to defend the country against foreign aggression and internal insurgencies. It should not offer an opportunity to the PPP leaders to go down as martyrs. Any reckless adventurism will bring bad name to the army and it would be thoroughly discredited in a short span.
It is not in the interest of the country to upset the applecart when elections are possible constitutionally and that is the only democratic way to go forward.
There’s certainly a lot of legitimate debate about what exactly government is supposed to be expected to do, and what is the best way to go about doing it. Perhaps you in fact think it appropriate to take some people’s money at gunpoint to give to poor folks (like YOU, no doubt). But recognize this is what you are doing, and don’t kid yourself that it’s something truly different than if you just walked into the bank with a gun — other than you’re getting someone else to do your dirty work. The stick-up artist is just cutting out the middleman. As HL Mencken memorably put it, “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
That said, Mr President and Mr Prime Minister, seize the moment and go to the people, your government has run out of steam. Live up to what you preach and let the change come through the ballot, the power of the ballot is what we need in sheer defence; else what shall save us from a second slavery?
However, do not misunderstand and think that ballots are the opposite of bullets. They are not. They are just a substitute for muting direct violence, not the elimination of violence.