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

VIEW POINT: Reviving Lahore's Basant

Published on December 19, 2013Hamza Shahbaz Sharif had good and bad news to give kite flying enthusiasts the other day. The Punjab government, he disclosed, is thinking about reviving kite flying during 2014 Basant. It is not going to be an open season, though. Instead kite flying is to be allowed only on an experimental basis as part of annual sports at two designated spots away from Lahore either in the Chhanga Manga forest part or Jallo Park. In other words, it will only be a token celebration of Basant sans its original Lahori flavour. A vast majority of those who take the sport seriously or are eager participants in the festivities surrounding Basant will have to wait for the experiment to work.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Trying General Musharraf

Published on November 21, 2013Many found it hard to believe him when Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced last Saturday that former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf is to be tried for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution. So they focused on the timing, interpreting the decision as a ruse to deflect public attention from sectarian violence in Rawalpindi, and the tensions it had generated in different parts of the country. Indeed, the government had the primary responsibility to ensure security during Muharram, the problem though is not of its making alone; it goes a long way back, and the responsibility for it is shared by successive governments, including PML-N's own. There was no apparent need therefore to shift public attention.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Saudi annoyance with UN

Published on October 24, 2013Something unprecedented happened at the UN last week. Within 24 hours of winning a non-permanent member seat on the UN Security Council, Saudi Arabia announced its resignation. The country had campaigned hard to get the seat, but then suddenly said it didn't want it anymore. The rejection is all the more surprising considering that the kingdom has always maintained a low key profile on foreign policy matters, preferring quiet diplomacy. Even some of its close friends have been acting ignorant saying they are talking to the Saudis "to get a little bit more background on what is behind this."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Good luck to Saudi women

Published on October 03, 2013Thousands of Saudi women have signed an online petition' entitled "October 26, driving for women". A news report says some 20 women are going to take to the wheel as part of a campaign to have a long-standing ban on driving lifted. Press reports also point out that in addition to the driving ban the kingdom imposes other major restriction on women, such as a requirement to cover from head to toe when in public, and a strict guardianship system that prevents women from opening bank accounts, working, travelling, and going to school without the express permission of their male guardians.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Talking to the Taliban

Published on September 19, 2013Last Sunday's Taliban attack in Upper Dir in which the GOC Swat and Malakand division, a Lieutenant Colonel and a non-commissioned officer were killed in the wake of a formal talks offer by the political leadership, and the ensuring events, are disconcerting but not surprising. A TTP spokesman accepted that the attack was carried out by its Swat franchise headed by Mullah Fazlullah. In another statement later, he said "we will never miss any opportunity to attack the Army like that." Acting like the victors setting the terms of surrender, these violent extremists also laid down two conditions to come to the talks table: one that the security forces withdraw from Fata: and second, that their prisoners be released and a general amnesty granted to the fighters.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Restoring peace to Karachi

Published on August 29, 2013The MQM, bristling until recently at any suggestion of Army's role in restoring peace to Karachi, is now the only party demanding handing over of the city to soldiers. In a noisy National Assembly session on Tuesday, the party's parliamentary leader, Farooq Sattar, described MQM chief Altaf Hussain's demand for handing over Karachi to the Army as an "SOS call", accusing the PPP government of "patronising criminal elements."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Presidential election: Controversy and consensus issues

Published on August 01, 2013As expected, the PML-N candidate for president, Mamnoon Hussain, easily sailed to victory winning 432 electoral votes from Parliament and provincial assemblies while the PTI's former Justice Wajihuddin Ahmad received 77 votes. The PPP had boycotted the election, accusing the Supreme Court of showing partiality to the PML-N because on its orders the election was held one week earlier than the original schedule announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).Read full story

VIEW POINT: Another glorious milestone reached

Published on July 18, 2013As President Asif Ali Zardari's term in office ends on September 8, the Election Commission of Pakistan has announced new election to the President's office will be held on August 6 as per the procedure laid down in Article 41 of the Constitution. Like his party PPP's government before, this is the first time that an elected president has completed his full term in office, which is a history making event in itself. Opinions though differ on who is to be credited for it.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The coup in Egypt

Published on July 11, 2013We in Pakistan are all too familiar with what has happened in Egypt: military ousting an elected government and putting its leader in prison. It looks a bit different though. Instead of the military chief General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi taking direct control of power, Chief Justice of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, was sworn in as interim president, the pro-western former head of IAEA Mohammed AlBaradei as vice president in charge of foreign affairs, and the former finance minister, Hazem el Beblawi as prime minister. The purpose is behind the effort is that the coup should not look like a coup and create difficulties for its plotters and abettors.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Needed a political compact of ethics

Published on July 04, 2013Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sent a letter to federal ministers and secretaries telling them that corruption being a hurdle in the way of serving the masses, removal of this menace is his government's top priority. There is no room for corrupt and non-transparent practices in the present dispensation, he said. Governance cannot be improved unless corruption, nepotism, inefficiency and conflict of interest are tackled upfront. Good words, indeed.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Afghanistan peace talks

Published on June 20, 2013Following the opening of Afghan Taliban's political office in Doha the first round of direct, official talks between the US and the Taliban starts there today to end the 12-year-long war that has had a devastating effect on Pakistan as well. The two sides have been in secret direct talks for a while hosted by Qatar and certain European countries, but the process broke off last year after the US refused to release five Taliban commanders incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay prison that the Taliban leadership wanted as a confidence-building measure. As the US' December 2014 troop withdrawal date - etched in stone, according to Vice President Joe Biden - draws nearer, the pressure is on to find an honourable exit from the country.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Time to invoke Article 6

Published on June 13, 2013Should he be tried or not tried under Article 6 of the Constitution, that is the question under fresh focus. That the court is determined to try him is more than obvious. A three-member Supreme Court bench hearing petitions seeking General Pervez Musharraf's trial for high treason has said the Article 6 would be applied to him even if the sky falls down. Deterrence against military intervention would come with the implementation of Article 6 of the Constitution, observed an honourable member of the bench.Read full story

VIEW POINT: America, Taliban and us

Published on June 06, 2013The violent extremists fighting this state, say many, have nothing to do with America's war in Afghanistan. Yet last Wednesday's US drone strike in North Waziristan that killed six people included the second-in-command of the so-called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Waliur Rehman. As a TTP commander he had the blood on his hands of thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers. He is also said to have commanded the 2009 attack on the GHQ.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Good news from Balochistan

Published on March 28, 2013Balochistan-related good news in a long, long time is the decision of Balochistan National Party-M (BNP-M) headed by Baloch nationalist leader, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, to participate in the upcoming elections. Notably, when the 2008 elections were held Mengal was in jail. His BNP-M along with other Balochistan based parties, including the Bugtis' Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch and Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo's National Party (NP) and Mehmood Achakzai's Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) had boycotted the polls to protest ongoing military operations and also because of the fear that the Musharraf government would manipulate the polls to achieve an outcome of its liking.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Controversial figure

Published on February 28, 2013Do you know who the following three personages were: Hafeez Jalandhari, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ashfaq Ahmed? "Of course", you're most likely to say, "Hafeez is the man who gave us our national anthem, and Faiz is revered across the political spectrum for his soul touching poetry." But Ashfaq, who? is the most likely reaction, especially if you are under thirty.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Clueless in Islamabad?

Published on February 21, 2013The Supreme Court bench hearing the case of Quetta Hazaras' killings asked the government the simple but important question: What're you doing to stop the killing of Hazara people? Irrespective of what the official answer is going to be, we all know that it did next to nothing until the people under attack could take it no more, and in desperation, staged protest sit-ins by the side of their dead near and dear ones' bodies to demand Army protection for the living and a targeted operation against the perpetrators.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Battling for democracy

Published on January 17, 2013The saying 'the more things change, the more they stay the same' rings so true on our situation. Just as we were beginning to believe that Pakistan has changed, and that it is no longer possible for the establishment to play its old games, events on the ground said not so soon. Who would have thought that a man of dubious credentials like Tahirul Qadri and zero political standing could be taken seriously? But he has managed to create quite a stir. And some of the otherwise reasonable members of the commentariat are making sympathetic noises, describing his demands as quite desirable. Which is sad considering that everything he wants is violative of the Constitution.Read full story


Published on December 13, 2012All hurdles blocking the construction of the much delayed but badly needed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project were removed when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came visiting last month to attend the D-8 meeting. Or so we were led to believe. Just when the project seemed to be ready for take-off, things are back to square one.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Unnecessary squabbling

Published on December 06, 2012It is now the MQM's turn to play the victimhood card. First, it took strong exception to a proposal of deweaponisation of Karachi, expressing reservations at the passage of a resolution by Senate last month, iterating that not only Karachi but the entire country should be deweaponised.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Karachi situation

Published on November 15, 2012As the death toll from targeted killings in Karachi rose to 40 in just three days so rose tempers on Monday of two contenders for the city's control, the MQM and ANP, who in the first place are responsible for causing unremitting conflict and chaos, in which a variety of sectarian outfits have jumped in to add sectarian strife and violence.Read full story

VIEW POINT: False narrative

Published on October 11, 2012Two types of people are very upset over the success of PTI protest march led by Imran Khan against US drone attacks which kill far more innocent civilians than violet extremists in our tribal areas. One, of course, are Imran's political opponents and the other the so-called liberals who have fallen for the US narrative on the issue hook, line, and sinker.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Government shirking its responsibility

Published on September 06, 2012One of the recurring themes in the accounts of this government's defenders is that the judiciary frequently crosses limits to assume the role of the executive. That though has been happening in cases directly related to cases pending before the apex court in situations where the executive has been transferring investigation officers whenever things seemed to be going against it. Which does not amount to judicial overreach; neither any limits were crossed in instances where the judiciary intervened because the executive had failed to do its duty to protect the lives and property of citizens.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Getting set for national elections

Published on July 26, 2012Amid rising political tensions and chaos the only thing on course are preparations for the upcoming general elections. Former Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim took oath on Monday as the new Chief of the Election Commission as a consensus candidate of all major political parties.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Between despair and hope

Published on June 14, 2012Talking to journalists on Monday, Prime Minister Gilani could not suppress his glee at the embarrassment Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry faces on account of his son's alleged involvement in a corruption case.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Celebration and horror of nukes

Published on May 31, 2012This last Monday Pakistan celebrated the 14th anniversary of its nuclear tests in a tit-for-tat response to India's tests. On the day Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the officially-designated 'father of Pakistan nuclear programme', gave several media interviews in his usual boastful manner, refusing to share credit with anyone else, including the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif who had resisted intense American pressure not to go for the explosions. Sharif, he told an interviewer, can't even explode a firecracker. Of course not; as a politician, he is not supposed to have that ability.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Shocking but not surprising

Published on April 05, 2012It all started during a protest strike in Gilgit called by the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a reincarnation of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba, to demand the release of its local leader. Somebody lobbed a grenade on the protesters, which left two of the group's activists dead and anther 35 injured. Soon all hell broke loose.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Stop this violence

Published on March 29, 2012Karachi has seen so much violence on the watch of this government that it is almost impossible to keep count of the number of people killed in ethnic and sectarian violence, or while resisting extortionists' demands. Fresh violence erupted on Tuesday after some people forced their way into the house of an MQM activist and killed him and his brother.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Syria at the brink

Published on March 15, 2012According to UN sources, the Syrian regime has killed over 7,500 people in a year-long bloody crackdown on pro-reform protesters and resistance fighters; others put the figure at 8000. The worst atrocities were committed in Homs - not far from Hama where President Bashaar al-Assad's father, Hafiz al-Assad, massacred 10,000 Syrians in 1982-and the village of Baba Amro where media reports speak of scenes reminiscent of the Srebrenica massacre: boys and men aged between 14 and 50 rounded up to be shot dead. Women and children have been forced to trek to neighbouring countries to seek refuge.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The plot thickens

Published on January 26, 2012To the delight of the Zardari/Gilani government, its supporters and hangers-on, Mansoor Ijaz, the central figure in the memo scandal, has expressed his inability to appear before the judicial commission investigating the case. Citing threats to his life and the forensic evidence he was to bring along, he has requested the commission to record his statement and examine the evidence either in Zurich or London. No show summoned celebration in the government camp.Read full story

VIEW POINT: PPP: Inspried by the theatre of the absurd

Published on January 19, 2012As it fights on to cover up its acts of omission and commission, the Zardari/ Gilani government has been resorting to irrational and illogical arguments and actions. The personal having become political, last week President Zardari gave a special interview to a private TV channel in the course of which he said his government would not comply with the SC orders to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen a money laundering case that was closed by the previous government as part of the infamous NRO deal.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The memo and we the people

Published on January 05, 2012As the memo scandal drags on the public debate is getting more and more emotional rather than rational. Otherwise reasonable people are trying to frame the debate as a mere military vs. the civilians issue, underscoring the need to put the former in its place. The sentiment is perfectly understandable given our military men's past villainies, but it is unfair, actually wrong, to argue that the memo is only about getting the Army off the civilian government's back.Read full story