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View Point By SAIDA FAZAL

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 café 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

VIEW POINT: IP Pipeline

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

VIEW POINT: The collapsing Pak - US 'partnership'

Published on December 01, 2011It is more than obvious that the American attack on two Pakistani posts that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, including a major and a captain, was intentional not accidental, as some of America's local apologists/collaborators have been trying to argue.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Imran's surprising show of strength

Published on November 03, 2011Imran Khan had wanted to hold his Sunday's Public meeting in Lahore at the same place where Shahbaz Sharif launched Nawaz League's 'Go Zardari Go' campaign last Friday. Instead the Punjab government told him to go use the sprawling Minar-e-Pakistan grounds, thinking he would be able to attract a small gathering which would look even smaller in that vast space. That the Tehrik-e-Insaaf activists too did not know what to expect was obvious from the large gaps they had tried to maintain between rows of chairs so that the rally could look respectable. But an overwhelming public response stunned everyone, including TI, its rivals and political pundits alike.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Iran's alleged assassination plot: Fact or fiction?

Published on October 20, 2011The idea seemed to have come from a John Le Carre novel when the US administration 'revealed' an Iranian plot of assassinating Saudi Arabia's Ambassador in Washington, Abdel A. Al-Jubeir. There are few takers for the absurd script trotted out by the administration officials.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Kabul - Delhi strategic partnership: A recipe for trouble

Published on October 13, 2011During his two-day visit to New Delhi last week President Hamid Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, giving a boost to India's big power ambitions, but badly damaging prospects of peace and development in this region. India is positioning itself to play a dominant role in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal in 2014.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Ten years on

Published on September 15, 2011They were all there, US' present and past leaders including President Obama, the former self-proclaimed 'war president' George W. Bush, former president Bill Clinton, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, at an elaborate ceremony to mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity that claimed the lives of 2,735 people at the World Trade Center and 231 others at the Pentagon and aboard the three terrorist hijacked planes.Read full story

VIEW POINT: It isn't over yet

Published on August 04, 2011Speaking on Monday in a special session of the National Assembly his party had requisitioned, Prime Minister Gilani hurled taunts at the Opposition, which had earlier in the day passed a resolution urging civil servants to "stand up against any violations of the Constitution."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Going the GMO way

Published on July 28, 2011Whether we like it or not genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have already arrived in this country. Several varieties of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton are being grown everywhere. We may soon be eating GM corn; other food and feed crops would also be making their way to our fields and on to our tables and animal feeders.Read full story

VIEW POINT: A blessing in disguise?

Published on July 14, 2011Deteriorating Pak-US relations took a turn for the worse - or for the better, depending on one's perspective - when on Sunday the US announced that the $800 million military aid to Pakistan would be suspended. Pakistan Army's prompt response suggested it did not care, saying "the Army in the past as well as at present has conducted successful military operation using its own resource without any external support whatsoever."Read full story

VIEW POINT: Time to put our house in order

Published on May 26, 2011Most of us are still trying to make sense of it all, while the Western media has been using the incident to question Pakistan's ability to defend its military installations, including the country's nuclear weapons.Read full story

VIEW POINT: After Osama

Published on May 12, 2011The government did not think it owed an explanation to the hapless people of this country as to what happened in Abbottabad. As if nothing important had taken place, Prime Minister Gilani took off for his scheduled visit to France, and President Zardari headed for Kuwait. Only COAS Kayani, sensing the gravity of the situation, cancelled his appearance at a security meeting in Brussels.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The matter of drone attacks

Published on April 21, 2011The issue has suddenly assumed crisis proportions. Tehreek-e- Insaf is to stage a two-day sit-in this weekend along the Nato supply route near Peshawar to protest relentless US Predator drone strikes. The party Chairman Imran Khan though has been consistently criticising, for several years, both drone attacks and military operations in the disturbed areas, arguing that negotiating with the militants was the only way to end retaliatory suicide bombings in the country and to bring peace to the troubled tribal region.Read full story

VIEW POINT: MQM in Lahore

Published on April 14, 2011The MQM made its debut in Punjab politics last Sunday by holding a public meeting in Lahore. An estimated eight to ten thousand people attended, which is pretty good for a fresh entrant on the scene - the party though has been laying the groundwork for its activities for quite sometime.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Intervention in Libya

Published on March 24, 2011As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon came out of a meeting with the Arab League chief Amr Mousa on Monday, angry Egyptians tried to block his way protesting Western intervention in Libya. They protested not for lack of sympathy for the Libyans fighting for democratic rights, but concern about the intentions behind the UNSC-sanctioned air strikes.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Beware, the mercenaries

Published on March 17, 2011Unable to crush a popular uprising on its own, the royal family of Bahrain has invited foreign forces to do the job. Saudi troops entered Bahrain on Monday, flashing victory signs, via a causeway that links the tiny island nation with Saudi Arabia. No words of censure in this case from the US, which along with its European allies, has been using all possible pressure levers to help Libya's pro-democracy protesters oust their dictator.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The forgotten conflict

Published on March 03, 2011Prime Minister Gilani delivered in the National Assembly on Monday what is supposed to be a policy statement on the troubled Balochistan province. Balochistan has not figured anywhere in the government priorities for a while. What urged the Prime Minister to take notice was the kidnapping of a district and session judge and a civil judge on Sunday and a week earlier, of four lawyers.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Palestinian Authority leaders' moment of shame

Published on January 27, 2011With the release of the "Palestine Papers" - the equivalent of WikiLeaks - it is now the turn of the Palestinian Authority leaders to face public embarrassment. Described as the most important leak in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the papers comprise hundreds of official PA transcripts from the US backed 'peace talks' in 2008, in which leaders of Fatah-led PA make shocking offers of compromise.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Combating theocracy: Bangladesh Supreme Court verdict

Published on January 21, 2011We lost our East Wing (Mushraqi Pakistan) in 1971 due to the sheer short-sightedness and highhandedness of the ruling military junta and its political cronies. Tragically, no one was punished. On the contrary, the populist political party of the day decorated the key persons behind this dismemberment, awarded them state lands and even gave them high political posts in the Pakistan People's Party.Read full story

VIEW POINT: The 'Jasmine Revolution'

Published on January 20, 2011Tunis, normally a peaceful place, is suddenly in the midst of what is being called a 'Jasmine Revolution' - named so because the country's national flower is jasmine, just like Pakistan's. Calling these unfolding events a revolution may be an exaggeration, but it is a catchy and, hence, attractive term to describe political change.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Whither Pakistan?

Published on January 13, 2011In a statement he recorded on Monday before an assistant commissioner, Mumtaz Qadri, the man who pumped 27 bullets into Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, said that he was influenced by what he heard two clerics saying at a religious congregation four days prior to the commission of his despicable act.Read full story

VIEW POINT: Change of policy towards Balochistan?

Published on January 06, 2011Sui was the venue of an unusual event last Sunday when COAS Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani inaugurated a military college, converted from a controversial army cantonment into an educational institution, in the presence of Balochistan Governor Zulifqar Magsi and Chief Minister Aslam Raisani. The conversion and what Kayani said and heard from the Baloch leaders on the occasion is reflective of a much welcome change in policy.Read full story