Last update: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 05am


VIEW POINT: After the Quetta carnage

Published on August 11, 2016The terrorist strike at Quetta's civil hospital that left over 70 people dead, 55 of them lawyers and two TV cameramen, and wounding at least 100 others two of whom later succumbed to their injures in hospital, has cast a pall of gloom over the entire nation. So many lawyers were there because the President of the Balochistan Bar Association (BBA) had been shot dead and his body brought to the hospital. The terrorists' modus operandi was the same as in five previous bombings in the city: first kill somebody important, let them be brought to the hospital where their associates would gather and then send a suicide bomber to cause maximum loss of life. Still, the thought that killing of the BBA president could be a trap to kill more did not cross anyone's mind - neither the security people nor those who came to be at the side of their fallen colleague. Clearly, no one suspected lawyers could be a target.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The looming season of protests

Published on August 04, 2016It's been four months since the Panama Papers revealed that like some of the world's rich and powerful, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family owned expensive properties in London bought through offshore companies. Despite opposition parties' relentless efforts to find out, through a formal probe, the origin and mode of transfer of the money with which those properties were purchased and whether or not the family had paid tax on it, the issue remains stuck where it was when the Panama revelations scandal first hit the headlines.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The change in Sindh

Published on July 28, 2016While the PPP's second tier leaders have been insisting the young party Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is now fully in charge of the party affairs, who still is in charge is plain from the manner the Sindh chief minister has been changed. Events of the last few days show Bilawal remains a mere trainee while the decision making authority resides in a Dubai palace. That is where the senior leaders were summoned- of course using public money - and told Syed Qaim Ali Shah goes out as chief minister of Sindh to be replaced by Syed Murad Ali Shah. The new nominee's name though was formally announced by Bilawal, following a party meeting he chaired, so as to give the impression that he chose Murad Ali Shah after consultations with party leaders. In a futile attempt to portray the charade as something genuine, information advisor to the outgoing CM, MaulaBuxChandio, told reporters Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had decided to bring in "young leadership" for the province's betterment.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Turkey's failed coup

Published on July 21, 2016In no other country the abortive coup in Turkey has been watched with as much interest and discussed so assiduously as in Pakistan. The reason of course is a common experience of repeated military interventions in politics. While in Turkey the military has staged four successful coups since 1960, we have seen, starting in 1958, three army takeovers and a fourth transfer of power from one general, self-styled Field Marshal Ayub Khan, to another army chief, General Yahya Khan. Even now the danger of an extra-constitutional intervention is openly discussed, which explains the level of interest generated by last week's events in Turkey and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issuing a statement to "strongly condemn" the attempt "to undermine democracy" in Turkey. "We deeply admire the resolve of the brave and resilient Turkish people, who stood up against the forces of darkness and anarchy to express support and commitment to democracy," he said.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Payback time for Blair?

Published on July 14, 2016The Chilcot inquiry report on the Iraq war released last Wednesday after seven long years of a probe into Britain's role in the war formally establishes what we have known all along: that the Bush-Blair duo invaded and occupied a sovereign state using false pretexts. Its value, however, lies in that at least Blair is being held to account for taking his country into a war of aggression. There is no such reckoning in the US. The chief culprit, George W Bush, remains unaffected, continuing to enjoy the status of a respected former president while Washington has gone on to cause more deaths and destruction in Syria and Libya.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Fighting gender bias and bigotry

Published on June 16, 2016For quite some time Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, doubling as Minister for Water and Power, has been attracting public attention more for hurling squeaky taunts at PTI leaders inside the National Assembly than performance in either of his ministries. Last week while being heckled by the opposition members during budget debate he singled out a woman MNA of the PTI, Dr Shireen Mazari, to make rude remarks about her appearance that the Speaker had to expunge amidst opposition benches' strong protest. Legislators are expected to avoid using language that is deemed below the dignity of the house. There is even a phrase 'unparliamentary language' for it. But the minister has repeatedly been demonstrating parliamentary traditions and rules are of least concern to him.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Hoping for a nuclear-free world

Published on June 02, 2016Last week US President Barack Obama was in Hiroshima where the US - the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons - dropped an atomic bomb 71 years earlier, killing 140,000 people and three days later another 39000 Japanese in Nagasaki, some instantly and others in slow and painful deaths from injuries and illnesses caused by radiation. Consistent with the US policy not to make an apology for any of its actions, Obama did not apologise for the colossal atrocity. He seemed to express some regret though as he said, "why did we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in the not-too-distant past. We come to mourn the dead."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Defending the indefensible

Published on May 19, 2016As expected in his much-awaited speech before the National Assembly Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif evaded answering the opposition's questions pertaining to his family's involvement in the Panama leaks scandal. He launched into the same old irrelevant spiel about how his family's business was nationalised and his enterprising father rebuilt everything from scratch, establishing a steel industry in Dubai. For a minute it seemed he was going to pull the rug from under the opposition's feet by saying it was the family patriarch who bought the controversial properties in London as well. Instead he said, the Dubai property was sold to set up steel mills in Jeddah, and later the proceeds from its sale were used to buy flats in 2006. "Not a single penny", he averred, "was transferred abroad for the purchase of these properties."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Flawed thinking

Published on May 12, 2016While discussing his Panama leaks problem with his advisers and cabinet colleagues Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, say insiders, has taken to make frequent references to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's success in controlling the country's powerful military, and confronting his political opponents. The PM is obviously thinking if he could do that so can I. But it is rather late in the day for that. Besides, Nawaz Sharif and Erdogan have nothing in common except an authoritarian streak, which is not helping the Turkish President, either. Erdogan is intolerant of criticism, and uses high-handed methods to suppress opposition. According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkey "is currently the world's biggest prison for journalists." Surely our Prime Minister cannot emulate this example. Pakistan is not Turkey.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Payback time for the rulers?

Published on May 05, 2016Pretending that the Panama leaks scandal has nothing to do with him and the opposition is out to get him for no reason except power lust, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told a gathering in Quetta on Monday "investment comes to a halt in a country where sit-ins and protest rallies lead to political chaos." Indeed, business does not like instability but protests are a part of democratic process, and hence need not lead to chaos if the government responds to them in a responsible fashion. The response has been anything but responsible.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Unending saga of 'Panamagate'

Published on April 28, 2016While the opposition parties' demands for an impartial investigation into the Panama leaks scandal involving Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif's family are growing louder and stronger, the PM has embarked on an electoral campaign-style attempt to win public support. Starting on Monday at Kotli Sattiyaan sub-district of Rawalpindi, he announced various development projects with a focus, of course, on his pet road construction projects, also claiming credit for putting Karachi back on track and initiating the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) to bring economic benefits to the people. And to give the local people something tangible to thank him for, he distributed cheques among the affectees of recent flashfloods. During the coming days, he is to address similar public meetings in different Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cities and inaugurate development projects.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Towards a PML-N minus N?

Published on April 14, 2016Years ago, Shobha De, a well-known Indian novelist and columnist, wrote an interesting piece about a party she had attended in Lahore, her point of interest being Tehmina Durrani, then a divorcee. According to De, looking longing at Shahbaz Sharif, married at the time to someone else - in addition to his first wife, Nusrat - Tehmina remarked, "one day, he is going to be the prime minister of Pakistan." Perhaps, the dream of herself becoming the First Lady one day drew her into marrying him. The Panama leaks scandal may well make that dream come true.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The Panama Papers

Published on April 07, 2016When last month - on March 7 - Hussain Nawaz appeared in a private TV channel interview, saying he was the owner of two offshore companies managed by a trust headed by the First Daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, one wondered why would he do that. What was the need for a normally reticent son of the Prime Minister to make such a public confession of involvement in the shady world of offshore firms? We now have the answer from the Panama Papers.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Anti-terrorist operations in Punjab

Published on March 31, 2016The Punjab government has been reacting angrily to suggestions that security operations by the Rangers, like in Sindh, are needed to eliminate violent extremist organisations from the province. The government spokesman, law minister Rana Sanaullah, routinely rubbished reports of the existence of such groups claiming instead things were completely under control. The claim was thoroughly exposed on Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a recreation park in Lahore killing 74 innocent people, a large number of them women and children, and wounding at least 350 others.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Letting the general get away

Published on March 24, 2016While our latest military ruler General Pervez Musharraf has made good his 'escape' to Dubai, a storm of accusation and counter accusations has erupted among politicians. Monday's joint session of Parliament called to discuss the controversial PIA privatisation bill turned into a heated debate about Musharraf with the leader of the opposition PPP Syed Khurshid Shah and PTI's parliamentary leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi taking the government to task for its decision to let the general leave the country. There are a lot of people who had wanted General Musharraf to be brought to justice: the PPP for his suspected involvement in Benazir Bhutto's assassination, the Baloch people for the alleged murder of their leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, and many others for his suspension of the Constitution to impose and re-impose martial law. The main focus though has been the high treason case that he faced before a special tribunal under Article 6 for holding the Constitution in abeyance. Khurshid Shah questioned the decision reminding the Prime Minister that soon after assumption of office in 2013 he had declared in the National Assembly that his government would try General Musharraf under Article 6. And in his hard-hitting speech Qureshi demanded to know "will the government brief this house how a usurper, an accused under Article 6, was allowed to leave the country?" Everyone of course knows the answer. And also the reason behind the Opposition's angry noises, namely, ousters of elected governments by military adventurists.Read full story

VIEW POINT: 'Least democratic' style of governance

Published on February 25, 2016The findings of Pildat report on "Internal Democracy of Major Political Parties of Pakistan, 2015" though unsurprising should be a matter of shame for these parties' leaders ie, if they have the capacity to be ashamed and the interest to make amends. Among the eight parties assessed on multiple criteria such as intra-party elections, discouragement of dynastic leadership, annual statements of accounts submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan, regularity of consultative councils and working committees meetings, the Jamaat-e-Islami earns the top position followed by the NP, PTI, ANP, PPP, JUI-F and MQM. The PML-N, ruling both at the centre and in the largest province, Punjab, ranks the lowest as the "least democratic."Read full story

VIEW POINT: PM's outburst against NAB

Published on February 18, 2016Lending credence to rumours that after Sindh the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was soon to turn its attention to Punjab, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered a stern warning on Tuesday to the accountability agency to address his reservations or be prepared to have itself cut down to size. So what is it that NAB is doing so wrong?Read full story

VIEW POINT: A dire warning from nature

Published on February 11, 2016An Indian newspaper, The Hindu, has quoted a signboard posted at that country's military base camp at Siachen Glacier as saying "snout of the glacier was here on 10th April, 2005" noting that the glacier's starting point has since moved by about a kilometer. It does not take much head scratching to figure out what may have caused it or the catastrophic consequences it holds for all peoples living in this part of the world.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Mixing of crime and politics

Published on February 04, 2016The first thing that strikes one about Lyari crime boss Uzair Baloch's story is the strong resemblance it bears to some popular Indian film dramas where politicians patronize gangsters using them for as long as necessary and disposing them of when they are of no use. From what we have been told so far is that this 37-year-old, like the anti-hero of films, was a ruthless killer, and that a long list of his crimes includes extortion, land grabs, kidnapping for ransom, drug trafficking as well as terror financing . If his reported claims are to be believed, just like in the movies, postings and transfers of police officers in his Lyari stronghold were made at his pleasure. Who pandered to his wishes and why are the questions that remain to be answered through proper process.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The general's 'decision'

Published on January 28, 2016The sense of satisfaction with which the news of Army chief General Raheel Sharif's "I don't believe in extension and will retire on the due date" statement has been greeted by the media and politicians is reflective of the weak state of this democracy. In a functioning democracy it would be a matter of little interest. Here nothing seemed to be more important on Monday evening for the electronic media and the newspapers the next morning than the CoAS' 'decision' not to stay on beyond his current tenure. Among others, leaders of the two major parties, the PPP and PTI, issued statements to welcome the news.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Saudi-Iran row and us

Published on January 07, 2016Saudi decision to execute Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 other critics/opponents of the regime seems to have been taken without a care for the consequences. The execution has inflamed sectarian passions, sparking protests in the kingdom's Shia-dominated southern region of Qitf - Nimr's home ground - as well as in Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, and most violently in Iran where angry mobs attacked the Saudi embassy smashing furniture and setting fire to the building before they were thrown out by the police. Luckily, no one was killed.Read full story

VIEW POINT: PPP's victimhood refrain

Published on December 31, 2015Addressing the eighth death anniversary of his mother, Benazir Bhutto, the young PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari devoted much time and energy to his party's present travails to claim victimhood. He said that the history of "target killings" against Bhutto's party was very old adding that "it started right with the PPP's birth; the target killing against the PPP continued [under his father Asif Ali Zardari's rule] when it took on terrorists in Swat." Warming up to the theme he asserted the 'targeted killing' of PPP was also seen in 2013 elections, and still goes on. Indeed, senior Bhutto was a victim of internal and external forces' conspiracy. Recognising his sacrifice the people brought his daughter to power not once but twice. After Benazir's assassination, sympathy vote for her returned the PPP to power for the fourth time.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The quarrel over Rangers' powers

Published on December 17, 2015Dragging its feet on the renewal of the Rangers policing powers in Sindh the PPP leadership has entered into a war of words with the interior ministry, reducing serious discussion of the issues at hand to an infantile argumentation. The Sindh government, already fuming over the Rangers raids into the Sindh Building Control Authority, Lines Area Development Project, and the Fisheries Department to confiscate records and detain senior officials for alleged corruption, faces fresh problems compelling enough for it to offer resistance. Those raids had led to party co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari delivering the unforgettable 'tumhari eent say eent baja dengey' (will destroy you) speech against the powers that be and leaving the country to set up camp at his Dubai home.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Whither the rule of law?

Published on December 03, 2015Last week, Ehtesab bench of the Islamabad High Court exonerated former president and PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the infamous SGS and Cotecna corruption references, drawing sarcastic remarks from the family and others against the PML-N leadership for having initiated the cases during its previous rule. A PPP gathering in Lahore even passed a resolution demanding that "Nawaz Sharif apologise to Zardari, his family members and the PPP workers." Actually, they should thank him for being helpful.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Getting the facts straight

Published on November 19, 2015Religious parties are very annoyed with the Prime Minister for saying Pakistan's future lies in a democratic and liberal Pakistan where the private sector thrives and no one is left behind. Reacting to the statement last week, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Emir Siraj-ul-Haq and chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) Sami-ul-Haq took strong exception to the use of term "liberal Pakistan," presenting a completely distorted picture of history.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Marital affairs: Morality vs societal hypocrisy

Published on November 05, 2015The news of PTI Chairman Imran Khan's divorce on the eve of local government elections has been generating a lot of public discussion with his detractors blaming the party's poor electoral showing to the divorce announcement. The subject continues to spur an unsavoury exchange of taunts between the PTI's 'tigers' and Nawaz Leaguers in the social media as well as comments by television talk show hosts. The first post-divorce news conference Imran addressed on his party's performance in KPK invited an impolite question about the news of divorce, drawing an angry response from him.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Blair remains remorseless

Published on October 29, 2015So Tony Blair has apologised for following George W Bush and his neo-con cabal into invasion and occupation of Iraq? Not quite. In an interview with CNN's Farid Zakaria he made four apologies, all about planning and a purported intelligence failure, uttering not a single word of regret about the mass murder of Iraqis.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Unraveling of Indian secularism?

Published on October 22, 2015The Shiv Sena's is on the offensive attacking Muslims, and others who have anything to do with Pakistan. Earlier this month, Shivseniks (god Shiva's soldiers) lynched a Muslim man wrongly accused of keeping cow beef in his fridge. Later a young truck worker from Kashmir was murdered and his companions injured on suspicion of transporting cows for slaughter. In the meanwhile, BJP members of held Kashmir legislature scuffled with Muslim legislators because one of them, Sheikh Abdul Rashid, had served beef at a private party. Not content with assaulting Rashid inside the state assembly, the other day they threw black ink on his face as he addressed a news conference.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Shifting sands of Punjab politics

Published on October 15, 2015No by-election has ever been watched with as much interest as the one in NA-122. The reason is obvious: the PML-N had to prove that it did not steal the seat (one of the four made most controversial by the PTI) as part of an alleged wider electoral fraud in the 2013 general elections while the PTI had to disprove the same. In the event, the de-seated NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq won back the seat, even if by the skin of his teeth. But has the party won the argument, too?Read full story

VIEW POINT: Irksome accountability

Published on October 08, 2015A few days ago, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani while presiding over a students' event in Karachi took the opportunity to defend his party facing an unkind accountability campaign in Sindh. Otherwise a thoughtful speaker he did not seem to make much sense as he thundered "today, anyone whose views and opinions clash with the people in authority [the military establishment] is seen as a corrupt person or a loser. This has become too much of a joke ... I agree that political workers are corrupt, most are, but does this make the rest of the country and those in the military as well as civil sectors clean?"Read full story

VIEW POINT: The state of democracy

Published on September 24, 2015Should we be worried about the state of democracy in this country? The answer is yes but reasons vary depending on who is talking. The International Day of Democracy, observed on September 15, provided some interesting insights. PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, at odds with the military establishment, issued a message from his Dubai home; and the Senate marked the day with a passionate debate on what is believed to be a tense civil-military relationship.Read full story

VIEW POINT: OIC and the Syrian exodus

Published on September 17, 2015As hundreds of thousands of migrants, most of them Syrians escaping a long and brutal civil war at home, knocked at the doors of Europe arriving by ramshackle boats, many perishing at sea, to live in peace, the Ummah's supreme body, Organisation of Islamic Countries, stirred into action deciding to hold an emergency meeting. OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani issued a statement before the event advising the international community to act in "humanitarian spirit" and "human dignity" in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis. In case anyone had doubts why these people were fleeing, he explained, they are not responsible for starting the conflict in their homeland. Who bears the responsibility and what needs to be done was made clear by the 'Ummah' leadership at the OIC executive committee meeting at its General Secretariat in Jeddah.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Putting the squeeze on seminaries

Published on September 10, 2015Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had a productive meeting on Monday with representatives of the Ittehad-e-Tanzeemat-e-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP) to decide future course of action for the seminaries. Thus far these people vehemently refused to follow the rules applicable to private sector schools, resisting all efforts at registration and financial audit. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told journalists afterwards that the 'ulema' have not only welcomed the registration of seminaries but also "termed it essential." Also, he said all seminaries will present audit reports of their expenditures to the relevant departments on a regular basis. The entire process is to be completed within three months.Read full story

VIEW POINT: What is going on?

Published on September 03, 2015PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has delivered a second tirade in about as many months, this time switching the target from the military establishment to the PML-N government, telling it to stop the "politics of revenge" otherwise there could be "disastrous consequences." The cause of his fury is the same as before.Read full story

VIEW POINT: ECP in the dock

Published on August 27, 2015Losing its second most important wicket - that of National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq - to PTI's Kaptaan himself, the Nawaz League does not seem to know how to handle the NA-122 election tribunal verdict. At first, the party said despite some reservations it respects the result. Then the Leaguers came out to launch an assault on both the judge and his judgement. The Punjab law Minister Rana Sanaullah went so far as to attack the integrity of former Justice Kazim Ali Malik, accusing him of acting out of a revenge motive after having failed to secure a provincial assembly election ticket for his son. Justice Malik, of course, rebutted the charge pointing out that his decisions in 30 constituencies had favoured the ruling party candidates.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Afghan President's outburst

Published on August 13, 2015Talking to journalists in the aftermath of a string of Taliban bombings in civilian areas that left scores of people dead and hundreds wounded during the last few days, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani launched a scathing attack on Pakistan. Said he, "Pakistan still remains a venue and ground for gathering from which mercenaries send us messages of war. The incidents of the past two months in general and the recent days in particular show that the suicide training camps and the bomb making facilities used to target and murder our innocent people still operate, as in the past, in Pakistan." He wanted Pakistan to stop the activities of those who, according to him, had been waging rebellion against Afghanistan from its soil.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Defective accountability

Published on July 16, 2015PML-N and the PPP are mad at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Qamar-uz-Zaman for submitting before a Supreme Court bench a list of 150 mega corruption cases that includes, among others, the names of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaque Dar, former president Asif Ali Zardari and premiers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.Read full story

VIEW POINT: MQM's deepening distress

Published on July 02, 2015The MQM is in trouble yet again, this time more seriously since the source putting a question mark on the party leadership's loyalty to the country is not a local opponent but the BBC. The report makes a shocking purported revelation about the party's funding and training of militants by the Indian intelligence agency, RAW. Had the story emanated from the media or elsewhere in Pakistan, it would have been summarily brushed aside. The BBC report did quote Pakistani sources but only for providing the information that the London Metropolitan Police had recorded a confessional statement of Tariq Mir, a senior MQM leader who managed the party's finances for its chief Altaf Hussain.Read full story

VIEW POINT: From reconciliation to confrontation

Published on June 18, 2015PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's confrontational speech against the Army chief General Raheel Sharif at a party event on Tuesday, completely out of sync with his politics of 'reconciliation', is to become memorable more for its inaptness than anything else. The soldiers are not doing anything bad at this time. The operations in Fata and elsewhere are backed by political consensus and hence need to be supported. It is obvious though that Zardari knows something that we don't know just yet, which has made him very, very angry.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Modi's state of mind

Published on June 11, 2015While recently accepting the "Bangladesh Liberation War Honour" on behalf of a predecessor, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi fondly reminisced how right from the beginning of his political career he was passionate about the cause. He said that he had actively worked for the "liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, and that like every Indian, it was his desire to see the establishment of Bangladesh". He claimed credit for the Indian army's role in the break-up of Pakistan, saying that Indian soldiers shed their blood fighting side by side the Mukti Bahini fighters.Read full story


Published on June 04, 2015The just concluded local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have generated a lot of heat and dust, and a fresh controversy about electoral rigging. The JUI-F, ANP, PPP and PML-N immediately cried foul, threatening to stage a sit-in - apparently, just to get back at the PTI for its campaign - against the provincial government. PTI's coalition partner in the province, the Jamaat-i-Islami, has also joined the chorus of rigging noises, pointing the finger at Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Misuse of power

Published on May 28, 2015Versions vary of what ignited the incident in Daska that left two lawyers - one of them president of the local bar association - dead and a bystander seriously wounded. According to media reports, the trouble started on Monday when, following an altercation with an employee of the local municipal administration, a lawyer sent for his professional associates for help while someone called the police. Helping hands arrived and started hurling stones and abuses at the police, say some, daring them to shoot. Another press report says, things got out of hand when police Inspector Shahzad Warraich slapped the bar president. Whatever the sequence of events, the end result is utterly shocking.Read full story

VIEW POINT: GCC states and their Iran problem

Published on May 21, 2015Last week, US President Barack Obama hosted an "Arab Summit' at the Camp David to provide his country's traditional Middle Eastern allies' security assurances. Out of the six Gulf Co-operation Council member states only the rulers of Qatar and Kuwait attended the 'summit'. Saudi King Salman pretending to have better things to do at home, sent his crown prince and the deputy crown prince to hear what Obama had to offer. Neighbouring Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa made a show of his disappointment with the Obama administration by flying off to Britain to attend a horse show with Queen Elizabeth. The UAE and Oman too were represented by junior royals.Read full story

VIEW POINT: 'Irregularities' galore

Published on May 07, 2015Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq finds it hard to deal with the embarrassment caused by an election tribunal's decision to annul NA-125 result and order re-election. He has been using the verdict to absolve himself of any wrongdoing, saying the tribunal based its verdict on irregularities and rejected his opponents' rigging allegations, and that he has not be disqualified. Yet he has also been ranting against the verdict, talking of the so-called London Plan, suggesting thereby that the tribunal had acted out of an ulterior motive.Read full story

VIEW POINT: A nuclear-free world is possible

Published on April 30, 2015A month-long UN conference on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opened on Monday for the treaty's 190 signatories to undertake quinquennial review of progress on nuclear threat reduction. The focus this time, for a change, is on the US' and Russian stockpiles rather than smaller countries' involvement in proliferation. In his message to the conference, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reminded the participants that a nuclear-free world is the "historic imperative of our time" regretting that over the past five years the disarmament process seems to have stalled.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Saving the houbara bustard

Published on March 12, 2015Migratory birds, including the rare houbara bustard, have returned to their wintering grounds in Pakistan, so have the Gulf States princes and sheikhs along with large entourages to hunt the houbara. According to press reports, a part of Balochistan's Chagai district has been allocated to Saudi Prince Fahd bin Sultan. Another area in the district has been reserved for the UAE Vice President and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Makhtum. Besides Balochistan, these and other VVIP visitors have the freedom to pursue their favourite sport in Punjab and Sindh as well.Read full story

VIEW POINT: A baffling reluctance to act

Published on February 19, 2015That the political leadership remains long on the rhetoric and short on action in countering the scourge of terrorism is plain from two reports appearing in Tuesdays papers: One about the proceedings of the Sindh Apex Committee meeting and the other about preparations for the Independence Day parade in Islamabad.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Will to fight terrorism is still weak

Published on February 05, 2015Last week, a suicide bomber massacred more than 60 people - many of them in their early teens or younger, like the boys killed in last December's attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar - at a Shikarpur Imambargah in Sindh during Friday congregation. This happened on the day Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in the provincial capital, Karachi, to sort out law and order situation. But at a news conference, which he addressed the same evening, he made no mention of the bloodbath. Instead he appeared to be in a jovial mood complaining about the poor quality of food the KCCI served him. That says a lot about this government's stated resolve to eliminate terrorism.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Obama in India

Published on January 29, 2015When US President Barack Obama arrived in India earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was beside himself with excitement while TV talk show hosts in Pakistan, green with envy, complained of being ignored. As if to cock a snook at them, Modi broke with protocol to greet the visitor at the airport with a bear hug, and later at a joint news conference revealed having frequent chats with "Barack" over the phone, going on to stress the importance of "chemistry" between leaders (forgetting how he was shunned by both the US and EU countries for his role as chief minister of Gujarat's in anti-Muslim carnage) in establishing cordial ties between countries. Modi ended the news conference with another hug and walked down the podium holding hands with 'Barack'. For his part, during the two days he spent in India the American President struggled with his own reserved style to reciprocate warmth.Read full story

VIEW POINT; It's a governance failure

Published on January 22, 2015They all acted as if caught by surprise as an unprecedented petrol crisis hit Punjab. The prime minister upon return home from an aimless trip to Saudi Arabia ordered, right at the airport, the dismissal of Secretary and Additional Secretary Petroleum, DG- Oil and MD of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) without ascertaining facts. The enormity of the crisis took till Monday to sink in when he cancelled all engagements to preside over a meeting of the ministers and bureaucrats concerned and appointed a two -member investigation team of minor officials who couldn't dare to question the mighty ministers.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Why we are where we are today

Published on December 25, 2014Our civil and military leaderships seem to have finally come to the realisation that the mess we are in today is the result of harebrained policies of the past three-and-a-half decades that now need to be reversed through a decisive action. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been in consultation with the Army chief General Raheel Sharif, conferred with senior cabinet colleagues on Monday to review a draft national counter-terrorism plan. What he said there should have been said and translated into action a long time ago.Read full story

VIEW POINT: PML-N must stop killing protesters

Published on December 11, 2014It was a deeply distressing sight on TV screens. A gunman firing straight into PTI protesters killing one young activist and injuring at least two others while the police watched as passive bystanders. After the job was done the killer and an accomplice calmly escaped from the scene.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The diamond jewellery set no one can own

Published on November 27, 2014The timing of a Swiss federal tribunal's verdict in a case his last government initiated in October 1997 against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, her husband Asif Ali Zardari, and her mother Nusrat Bhutto could not be worse for the present Sharif government. Whilst he badly needed the PPP's support in his confrontation with the PTI leader Imran Khan the Swiss tribunal has ruled that a diamond jewellery set worth $180,000 seized in connection with investigations into allegations of ill-gotten money belongs to Zardari and other legal heirs of the late PPP leader.Read full story

VIEW POINT: On to a collision course

Published on November 20, 2014PTI Chairman Imran Khan has set the November 30 deadline by which time the government must accept his demand for an impartial probe into alleged electoral rigging or "we will make it impossible for the government to continue." Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to shrug off the threat the other day saying those giving November 30 deadline should come out of the dream world, adding that those holding sit-ins could not befool the people anymore. The people, though, have been flocking to PTI rallies in different cities, seemingly willing to be fooled by the PTI leader's anti-status quo harangues.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Pointless attempts at a cover-up

Published on November 13, 2014The PPP leadership has been trying to cover up its Sindh government's acts of omission and commission in the drought-hit Tharparkar district. What seems to bother the leadership is not the suffering of the wretched people of Thar but that it should be seen to have neglected them. Hence when a fact-finding report prepared by provincial minister for Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Manzoor Wassan somehow got leaked to the media, party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was furious. He issued show-cause notices to both Wassan and the province's ineffectual Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah because the report contained damning details of corruption and mismanagement.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Coal-fired power projects

Published on November 06, 2014The federal government's proposal to set up ten coal-fired power plants across the country to produce over 4000 megawatt electricity has been the subject of a misplaced focus during the recent days. Media reports have been spotlighting the high cost of transporting imported coal from the seaports to plant locations in Punjab which would render coal-based power generation too expensive. The cost of course has to be an important consideration. But we should also worry about the environmental impact of CO2 emissions these plants are notorious for.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Zia ghost needs to be exorcised

Published on October 30, 2014Military ruler General Ziaul Haq departed this world more than 26 years ago, but that supreme hypocrite's ghost continues to haunt almost every sphere of our national life. Using religion to seek validation of his power grab, he sowed seeds of so many problems this society faces today, obvious among them militancy, sectarian terrorism, religious intolerance, and decline of educational standards. To keep his opponents out of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) he also inserted Articles 62 and 63 in the Constitution, laying down qualifications and disqualifications for membership of Parliament.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The focus on Scottish referendum

Published on September 18, 2014As the people in Scotland vote "Yes" or "No" today in an independence referendum, others with similar aspirations in different parts of the world would be watching closely. Those evincing keen interest, say media reports, are Catalonia in Spain, Bavaria in Germany, Flanders in Belgium and West Papua in Indonesia. Even though the Kashmiris are not mentioned, they too must be enthused by the event. The interested outsiders share history of separateness and hopes of independence.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Troubling times

Published on September 04, 2014The events of the last nearly three weeks that shook this nation to the core are nearing end. So far, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has emerged victorious. He is to neither resign nor go on leave for the duration of vote audit as demanded by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, making the latter look like a loser for now. In the longer run though, after the heat and dust settles down, the credit would be his to claim for challenging the status quo to help establish 'genuine democracy' in this country. Thankfully for now, the democratic system has survived despite many anxious moments as the Army played a 'facilitation' role.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Off to a bad start

Published on August 28, 2014When India's new far-right Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration last May and showed much warmth towards the guest, a hope arose that he could become a good partner for peace with Pakistan. He hasn't taken long to dash that hope.Read full story

VIEW POINT: On the brink

Published on August 21, 2014The PTI has managed to create an extraordinary crisis. Before leading the Azadi marchers for a sit-in at the Parliament House on Tuesday, Imran Khan threatened to take over the PM's House if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not step down - an impermissible step fraught with dangerous consequences. If things came to such a pass the onus, to a large extent, would fall on the government's shoulder for its failure to address, in a timely fashion, the PTI's complaints about alleged electoral fraud. The ruling party obviously did not pay attention to his persistent threats to take to the streets if he did not get justice. He has now mounted an unprecedented protest to dislodge the government.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Decisive moment for PTI

Published on August 14, 2014PTI Chairman Imran Khan, has finally laid out the details of alleged electoral rigging, naming names - former CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, former SC judge Khalilur Rehman Ramday, former caretaker Punjab chief minister Najam Sethi, Punjab Election Commissioner Anwar Mehboob and an EC member Riaz Kayani - along with details of their modus operandi and rewards reaped. Those named of course have denied any involvement in alleged wrongdoing.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Azadi march: where will it end?

Published on August 07, 2014If Nawaz Sharif seemed to have learnt from his past mistakes, not anymore considering how he has responded to the first major political challenge thrown his way by the PTI. He misjudged Imran Khan's seriousness in demanding recounting of votes in four most disputed constituencies to expose alleged electoral fraud, and electoral reform. When the push came to shove the government invoked Article 245 of the Constitution to call in the Army to secure Islamabad for three months, ostensibly to ward off any blowback from military operation in North Waziristan but actually as a protective measure against the PTI's August 14 'Azadi march'.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The myth of media neutrality

Published on July 24, 2014The death and destruction Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip are enduring is hard to watch even on TV screens. Blood soaked bodies of children, men and women of all ages. Blood being mopped up from hospital floors to make way for more wounded. Morgues unable to cope with the rising number of corpses. UN-run school shelters too full to let in more people. Families running fast looking for refuge but nowhere to go. No place in the occupied Gaza is safe from the Jewish state's bloody onslaught.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Israeli aggression and Western hypocrisy

Published on July 17, 2014The casualty figures from the latest Israeli barbarity against the besieged Gaza Palestinians speak for themselves. Over 200 people killed in a week-long assault from the air, the sea and the ground. According to the UN, three quarters of the dead were civilians, one quarter of them children. Behind these cold statistics were real people, such as 18 members of a single family murdered by Israeli bombs in their home. Eight members of another family, including five children, also killed in their home. Nine young football fans were killed - three of them brothers - and another 15 wounded at a beach caf while watching the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and the Netherlands. A home for the disabled wiped out along with most inmates. Hundreds of the wounded lay in hospitals fighting for their lives, like a 22-year-old fresh law graduate hit in his home, lying unconscious in a hospital bed with both legs amputated. A six-year-old girl, the only child born after five IVF processes, also comatose from shrapnel lodged in her head while helping her mother with some domestic chore. The home-made rockets Hamas has been firing into Israel killed not a single Israeli until Tuesday.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Return of the caliphate

Published on July 10, 2014The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has finally attained success in proclaiming establishment of the Islamic State in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, declaring its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as 'Caliph of the Muslims' and decreeing that all national and tribal boundaries spanning the Muslim world are invalid. For now, the ISIS has managed to undo, even if partially, the arbitrary lines of division the British and the French drew under the secret Sykes-Picot agreement, following Turkey's defeat in the World War I, to carve out their respective areas of control and influence from the Ottoman Empire's Arab provinces.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Will perseverance bring PTI success?

Published on July 03, 2014Tahirul Qadri's revolution is over for all practical purposes. The multiparty conference he hosted the other day produced a lot of anti-government rhetoric but no plan of action for the promised revolution to bring down the Sharif government. For all one knows he may soon be heading back to Canada. But PTI Chairman Imran Khan is not going anywhere or to give up his campaign against alleged electoral rigging unless and until his longstanding demand for voter verification in four constituencies is met.Read full story

VIEW POINT: ...reaping the whirlwind

Published on June 12, 2014Last Sunday night's terrorist strike at the country's largest airport in mega-polis Karachi overshadowed another horrific incident that took place the same evening in a remotely-located small border town, Taftan. There sectarian terrorists bombed two small hotels. The attack in Karachi claimed 19 lives of security personnel and civilians, and the other of 24 civilians - all Shia pilgrims on their way back home from Iran.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Planning a 'revolutionary' government

Published on June 05, 2014The Chaudhry brothers leading the rump PML-Q, and Tahirul Qadri who has made himself a career as a religious leader and quasi politician, got together in London last week to plot and plan the ouster of the PML-N government and install a 'revolutionary' government in its place. Plans are plans. It should matter little if they are not implementable.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Is Modi trustworthy?

Published on May 29, 2014Uncertainly hangs over a fresh beginning Islamabad expects to make with India's new far right Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nawaz Sharif was one of the first world leaders to make a phone call to congratulate him and extend an invitation for a visit to Pakistan. Yet when Modi invited him to his inauguration along with other Saarc leaders Sharif - more likely, the 'stakeholders' around him - was not so sure. Acceptance took several days. The message being that we don't quite trust you, but will come anyway so no one can point a finger at us for not being good sportsman.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The unresolved issue of electoral rigging

Published on May 08, 2014PTI Chairman Imran Khan is all set to launch his protest movement on May 11 to expose those he accuses of having "stolen the people's mandate through rigging." He has three good reasons to choose the timing. First, of course, is the obvious reason that it would be exactly one year to the day general elations were held. Anniversary is a good time to remind the people that his party's complaints about rigging in 35 constituencies remain unaddressed. Second, to establish that PTI is the real opposition rather than the PPP - the formally-designated parliamentary opposition. And third, to stay in the centre spot of national politics.Read full story

VIEW POINT: An unsavoury spectacle

Published on April 24, 2014A rational response to the gun attack on journalist/TV anchor Hamid Mir would have been to condemn it in strongest possible terms and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Instead it turned into a free for all, with different media houses giving vent to their rivalries and commentators, barring a few exceptions, making nonsensical arguments either due to mental limitations, to please certain quarters, or to take potshots at the government.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Countering extremist narrative

Published on April 03, 2014It was his sheer presence of mind and some luck that journalist and television commentator Raza Rumi ducked down in his car on hearing gunshots and survived a terrorist attack while his driver died from multiple bullet wounds. Rumi, of course, was targeted for speaking the truth about TTP, its aligned sectarian groups, and opportunistic policies of some past and present politicians. Within the wider perspective, the attackers may yet have achieved their aim of creating fear and terror. Take for instance the advice Raza got from the police that he should stay at a safe location in order to be protected. Think of his family who would be scared to death about his safety, and would want him to tone down his criticism of the forces of darkness so he stays alive. Same would be the case with other outspoken critics of the Taliban and sectarian terrorists. One knows the spouse of a particularly bold person who has been confronting Taliban apologists head-on as a TV talk show discussant and, briefly, as a presenter. He says he has begged her to keep out of these programmes for the sake of her family.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The question of national honour

Published on March 27, 2014It could happen only in Pakistan. With a valid Canadian visa stamped on his passport, a sitting member of Parliament, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, had just embarked a Toronto-bound flight of the national carrier at a Pakistani airport when he was told to disembark on the command of an American transport security administration officer. The incident has generated a lot of outrage and the persistent question, how could a foreigner order an MNA out of a plane in his own country? His last name is not even Khan!Read full story

VIEW POINT: Recipe for trouble

Published on March 20, 2014This government has been trying to fool us all along regarding the nature of "a new era in strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia." When a joint statement issued at the end of Saudi Foreign Minister's visit last month raised eyebrows vis-a-vis policy change toward the Syrian crisis, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam reacted irritably saying "the criticism in the first place is motivated or there would be questions about the intelligence level of those who are indulging in this debate."Read full story

VIEW POINT: The rift within GCC countries

Published on March 13, 2014Three Gulf monarchies - Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - are so annoyed with a fellow member of the Gulf Co-operation Council, Qatar, that they have recalled their ambassadors from Doha. This was done in protest, they said, against Qatar's interference in their internal affairs. It is hard to believe that a pro-Western emirate like Qatar would interfere in the internal affairs of Gulf kingdoms to create instability.Read full story

VIEW POINT: No lessons learnt

Published on February 20, 2014Whosoever said "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" obviously did not realise that some, such as our rulers, cannot learn even from current history to keep from repeating mistakes of the past. As it is, this country faces an existential threat from violent extremists of the Taliban brand because of Islamabad's past policy of lending mercenary services to the US in its two Afghan wars in exchange for dollars; and from sectarian terrorists for letting financially helpful Gulf kingdoms to fund, for their own purposes, sectarian seminaries that are playing havoc with lives and generating social tensions.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Disarray in our sporting scene

Published on February 13, 2014Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has finally gotten rid of Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Zaka Ashraf, dissolved the PCB governing board and reappointed Najam Sethi at the head of an eight-member management committee. A notification issued by the Minister of Inter-provincial Co-ordination said "there are serious issues in the management of PCB repugnant to the aim and the object of the PCB, and that there is an immediate and emergent need to take necessary measures to improve the management of the PCB, as well as to streamline the game of cricket at all levels in Pakistan."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Negotiating peace with TTP

Published on February 06, 2014Talking to senior media persons in Lahore earlier this week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed the hope that the committees formed by the government and the TTP to negotiate peace will make headway. There is no question about that the government is serious about closing the bloodiest chapter in this country's history through peaceful means. But the TTP does not seem to be serious at all. Its stated interest in talks is meant to create an impression in the minds of ordinary people, sick and tired of ceaseless violence, that the Taliban are not averse to ending their war through negotiations.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Our endangered wildlife

Published on January 30, 2014An AJK Wildlife Department game warden had a cute story (very scary for the characters involved) to tell a journalist recently of how men and leopards in that area react to one another upon coming into contact. Last year, a man saw a leopard in the bush and hurled a stick on it, goes the narration. The big cat, of course, did not like such rude behaviour and conveyed as much by slapping the two legged creature in the face - striking lightly enough not to cause serious damage, just a few scratches - before going away. This was not something exceptional. There have been similar "minor incidents" for which the wildlife department officials blame the people. They obviously think that it is safer to ignore the leopards than to confront them. Using any available weapon though would be the reflex action of most people unfamiliar with animal psychology.Read full story

VIEW POINT: New Pak-Saudi terms of endearment

Published on January 23, 2014Two interesting visitors came calling this month from a brotherly Muslim country. First to arrive was the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal to lay down the groundwork for what is being touted as a "New Era of Strategic Partnership" between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This week, Deputy Defence Minister Prince Suleman bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz came for follow-up discussions. His first stop was a courtesy call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who explained the new partnership saying "in view of current challenges, there is a need to further strengthen defence co-operation between the two countries ..."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Confronting sectarian extremists

Published on January 16, 2014This year's Eid Milad-un-Nabi celebrations brought along a pleasant surprise. Like in the good old times, the day passed off peacefully with the faithful taking out celebratory processions in different parts of the country, reciting 'naats, 'hamd' and Quranic verses. The surprise event in the present violence ridden environment turned out to be the main procession in Rawalpindi-the scene of a recent major incident of sectarian violence- for being a joint Sunni and Shia affair. Leaders from both sides made inspiring speeches while the participants raised slogans of "Shia Sunni bhai bhai" in the spirit of the Holy Prophet's (PBUH) message of peace and brotherhood. Similarly, a milad meeting organised by Minhajul Quran in Lahore included Shia scholars.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Musharraf's trial

Published on January 09, 2014While General Pervez Musharraf convalesces in Rawalpindi's Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, guarded by soldiers rather than policemen, his apologists - mostly beneficiaries - have come out in his defence trotting out silly, even provocative arguments. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who got a short stint as interim prime minister - something he could only dream of - and his cousin Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Punjab chief minister under Musharraf's military government, are loudly voicing support for him. The senior Chaudhry brother, who headed Musharraf's handmaiden, PML-Q, dared the government to try him as well along side Musharraf for collaborating with the military government following the 1999 coup.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Musharraf should face the court with courage

Published on January 02, 2014Now that the reality of facing treason trial has dawned on him, General Pervez Musharraf is getting more and more desperate, and using all methods foul to fight his way out of trouble. First his foreign lawyers termed the trial as a "stage-managed show" questioning the impartiality of judges of the special tribunal that is to try him, seeking UN intervention. Most interestingly, they later asked London and Washington to "repay their debt"Read full story