dawn magazine sunday 11march by muaz007

VIEWS: 108 PAGES: 166

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                D A W N W I R E S E R V I C E

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            Sunday 11 March to Saturday 17 March

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The DAWN Wire Service (DWS) is a free weekly news-service
from Pakistan's largest English language newspaper, the
daily DAWN. DWS offers news, analysis and features of
particular interest to the Pakistani Community on the
Internet. DWS is sent by e-mail every Saturday.

Extracts from DWS, not exceeding 50 lines, can be used
provided that this entire header is included at the
beginning of each extract.

We encourage comments & suggestions. We can be reached at:

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     Haroon House, Karachi 74200, Pakistan

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Editor to:

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(c) Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., Pakistan -
2012

DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
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                         C O N T E N T S

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N A T I O N A L N E W S
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+ Sabir to be his deputy: Nayyar named Senate chairman
+ Joint session likely to formalise new ties with US
+ 47 killed in Khyber gunfight
+ PM asks agencies to respect Balochistan govt’s mandate
+ Kohistan killings: Five suspects arrested, says Malik
+ Three more religious groups banned
+ Habib claims giving money to Nawaz by hand
+ Judicial Commission recommends judges for FSC, LHC
+ Six pro-govt militiamen gunned down
+ US, Pakistan agree to continue talks for improving
relations
+ Taliban claim responsibility: Suicide blast at funeral;
16 dead
+ Budget to be presented in May: minister
+ PM virtually rules out writing letter: Immunity issue is
parliament’s domain: Gilani
+ Jilted girl’s acid revenge
+ NTDC hires 60 engineers in violation of rules
+ TV actress Tahira Wasti is dead
+ British minister faces legal action over drone strikes
+ Wheat export, funding for gas pipeline on agenda: ECC
likely to impose GST on hydropower
+ Naek may become law minister
+ Change of guard goes off smoothly in Senate
+ War against polio seen as national obligation
+ Ijaz should bear forensic probe cost: Haqqani
+ ISI always had political wing, says Mukhtar
+ Desecration of Quran condemned
+ Two killed in bomb explosion
+ Patil says India committed to dialogue
+ PIA faces action over safety issues
+ More radiation detectors planned
+ Waheeda case draws SC’s attention to service conditions
+ Chinese bank ditches Iran gas project
+ Changes in army’s hierarchy in the offing this year
+ US drones kill 14
+ SC criticises ministry’s failure to act on PSM report
+ Pakistan ‘vital’ to Afghan peace
+ Rise in number of people seeking refuge abroad
+ Pakistani personnel jailed over Haiti abuse
+ Memon enjoying special protocol in PML-N
+ Official dies in N. Waziristan jirga attack
+ Karachi at high risk from sea level rise
+ Funds not a problem for IP pipeline, says Khar
+ NA’s unanimous call for law to tame agencies
+ Nato supply route: Parliament’s decision to be final
+ Pakistani dies in firing by NATO forces
+ Supreme Court to also focus on IB’s role in Mehran Bank
scandal
+ SC will go to any extent to protect Constitution: Khilji
+ Sharifs plan defamation suit against Younus Habib
+ Aitzaz dismayed at new SC order
+ SHO summoned in illegal detention case
+ Bomb blast kills five tribal elders
+ Swiss letter will amount to treason: PM: ‘Prison better
than going to the gallows’
+ China group is no more a part of gas pipeline plan:
minister
+ Govt ready to probe Steel Mills affairs, SC told
+ Haqqani, Ijaz come face to face
+ Swiss couple ‘escape’ from Taliban Captivity
+ SP killed, guards injured in suicide attack
+ Documents on immunity stolen from house of SC official
+ ‘Highhandedness’ by lawyers forces judges to seek
transfer
+ Rulers put on opposition colours in National Assembly
+ Zardari’s record fifth address to joint session today
+ Muttahida legislators to attend session
+ SC wants man picked up last week produced in court on
Monday
+ Balochistan govt to withdraw 28 cases against Brahamdagh
+ Haqqani’s counsel criticises judge’s attitude: Bitter
exchanges mar proceedings
+ Gilani says he is not afraid of anyone
+ Kharif sowing may be delayed for 15-20 days
+ Eight injured in bomb blast
+ Pakistan team barred from meeting Kasab
+ Parliament to debate ties with US on Monday
+ Shahbaz vows strong action against looters
+ SC to hear petition against jirga system

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E D I T O R I A L
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+   Way forward for ISI
+   Defamation laws
+   Vanishing mangroves
+   Banned groups
+   Prison reforms
+   A literary dilemma
+   Forced conversions
+   From Lahore to Istanbul
+   Railway fare
+   SBP guidelines
+   Bhambore ruins
+   Pipeline concerns
+   Media content regulation
+   Legitimate criticism
+   Rampaging lawyers
+   American withdrawal
+   The defiance continues
+   Water shortage

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COLUMNS/ARTICLES
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+   Smokers’ Corner: Back to G M Syed?
+   Enemies of the state
+   Desert of the real
+   The honour problem
+   Balochistan in the limelight
+   Say ‘no’ to arms
+   Kaleidoscope of injustices
+   Spooks in the spotlight


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11, March, 2012

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Sabir to be his deputy: Nayyar named Senate chairman

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By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD, March 10: All speculations about the Senate’s
new chairman ended on Saturday when the ruling coalition
unanimously named Nayyar Hussain Bukhari of the Pakistan
People’s Party for the slot.

The coalition sprang a surprise by naming a PPP man for the
deputy chairman’s slot, too.

The nomination of Sabir Baloch, who represents Balochistan,
indicated that although coalition partners might have
coveted the office, they authorised President Asif Ali
Zadrai to choose anyone.

The two leaders will be elected on Monday when 50 fresh
senators will step into the upper house and an equal number
will bow out.

Nayyar Hussain Bukhari is at present Leader of House in the
Senate.

The nomination of Mr Bukhari and Mr Baloch was made at an
important meeting of allied parties’ heads in the
presidency on Saturday. The meeting was jointly chaired by
President Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza
Gilani.

The President’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said: “The
President welcomed the allied parties to the meeting and
conveyed that the PPP wants to nominate Senator Nayyar
Hussain Bukhari for the slot of chairman and Senator Sabir
Baloch from Balochistan for the slot of deputy chairman.”

He said all the allied parties endorsed the Mr Zardari’s
suggestion. “They also felicitated Nayyar Bukhari, who was
present in the meeting, on his nomination for the office of
Senate chairman,” he said.

The meeting was attended by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and
Mushahid Hussain Syed of PML-Q, Asfandyar Wali Khan and
Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party, Babar Khan
Ghauri and Tahir Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement,
Mir Israrullah Zehri, Munir Khan Orakzai and Engineer
Shaukatullah.

Syed Khurshid Shah, Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Raja Pervez
Ashraf and Farhatullah Babar also attended the meeting.
A source in the PPP said Babar Awan, Raza Rabbani and
Aitzaz Ahsan were contenders from the chairman’s slot, too.
According to political analysts, both Mr Bukhari and Mr
Baloch were loyalists and it has been seen many times in
the Parliament House that Mr Baloch scolded even his party
men for pinpointing mistakes of the government.

Mystery still surrounds Mr Naek’s removal from the Senate
chairmanship. He had represented Mr Zardari in a number of
court cases when he was behind bars.

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11, March, 2012

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Joint session likely to formalise new ties with US

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By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 10: The government is expected to convene
a joint session of parliament in the third week of this
month for giving final shape to ‘new terms of engagement’
with the United States as differences between key
stakeholders on crucial issues, which were holding up
completion of parliamentary review of ties, appear to have
narrowed down.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday told a
group of reporters that the joint session could be held
days after President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to
parliament on March 17.

The prime minister did not give a specific date for the
session on US, but sources suggest that it could be as
early as March 19.

Mr Gilani said that the process, once completed, would
provide “parliamentary support” to the relationship that
was previously run on an “ad hoc basis”.
In the prime minister’s view the ties suffered from a
mutual lack of trust.

The parliament will debate and vote on recommendations of
the Parliamentary Commission on National Security (PCNS),
which had been tasked by the Defence Committee of the
Cabinet to review relationship with Washington in the
aftermath of the Nov 26 Salala tragedy and define fresh
terms of engagement.

The PCNS had completed its proceedings on the matter weeks
ago, setting broader parameters for the relationship.

The Foreign Office and government spokespersons cited
preoccupation with constitutional matters as cause of the
delay, but multiple sources confirmed that the process fell
behind schedule because of lingering disagreements at home
over thorny issues like drone attacks, terms for reopening
of Nato supply route and red lines that the US would be
expected to observe.

To quote one source: “Saner elements want the terms of
engagement to be realistic.”

A senior defense source, meanwhile, described the current
phase of internal consultations as an effort to fine-tune
the ideas for Pak-US relations to suit the national
interest over a long term. He was hopeful that a consensus
would soon emerge, allowing the matter to be taken up by
the parliament’s joint sitting.

Raza Rabbani, the PCNS chairman, told Dawn he was unaware
of any consultations being carried out by the government
after completion of his committee’s discussions.

Mr Rabbani said PCNS recommendations were about “broad
parameters” of the relationship and were complete in all
respects.

The inconsistent Pak-US relationship had been on a downward
trajectory since last year when a CIA spy shot dead two
young men in Lahore and aggravated further after the US
raid on Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad. But the
troubled ties turned virulent after the Nov 26 attack on
Salala border post in which 24 Pakistani troops were
killed.
The incident led to the parliamentary appraisal of
cooperation with Washington.

As the review continues the relationship effectively
remains on hold.

The US has indicated that it is keen to resume “normal
contacts” in entirety.

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11, March, 2012

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47 killed in Khyber gunfight

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PESHAWAR, March 10: At least 39 militants and four security
personnel were killed on Saturday in a day-long gunbattle
in northwestern tribal region, officials said.

The fighting took place as security personnel, backed by
helicopter gunships, carried out a search operation around
the town of Bara in the lawless Khyber tribal district
bordering Afghanistan.

“Four paramilitary soldiers were martyred and seven others
were wounded in today’s fighting,” a senior security
official told AFP.

“At least 39 militants were also killed,” he said.

Four civilians also died when a mortar shell hit a house,
an official said. A senior paramilitary official said the
militants belonged to the Taliban-linked Lashkar-e-Islam
group that is led by Mangal Bagh.—AFP

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11, February, 2012
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PM asks agencies to respect Balochistan govt’s mandate

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 10: In a rather strong statement, Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani asked Frontier Corps and other
law-enforcement agencies on Saturday to respect the mandate
of Balochistan government and help it restore law and order
in the province.

“The mandate of the Balochistan government has to be
respected. The FC is bound to assist the provincial
administration,” Mr Gilani said while talking to a group of
journalists.

The FC has been accused of committing human rights
violations in the past. On their part, the FC officials
have been blaming the provincial government for the poor
law and order situation in the country’s biggest province.

The provincial authorities recently sought the federal
government’s intervention and asked it to help improve its
relations with the FC.

Mr Gilani said he had already directed all federal agencies
to fully cooperate with the provincial government, which is
responsible for law and order in the province. “I have
spoken to army chief, director-general ISI and other
officials and all are ready to help.”

Analysing the Balochistan crisis, Mr Gilani said the
problems mostly were related to the law and order
situation. “These problems are stopping the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-
i-Balochistan package from delivering the desired results.”

Mr Gilani said he was busy in addressing the socio-economic
and administrative reasons behind the alienation of Baloch
nationalists. “Had it not been for the missing persons and
the mutilated bodies, there would have been an
unprecedented forward movement towards improving the
situation.”
He said he had asked the elected politicians of the
province to suggest ways to resolve the crisis that already
attracted international attention.

Mr Gilani said he was not sure in which case the Supreme
Court had asked him to send a letter to Switzerland to
reopen a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari.

On Thursday, a Supreme Court bench fixed March 21 as the
deadline for the premier to write the letter.

The court is separately hearing a contempt case against Mr
Gilani and a case about the implementation of a judgment on
the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The bench had
observed that pendency in the contempt proceedings should
not affect the implementation of the judgment.

The prime minister said he would seek the advice of his
counsel and take a decision accordingly.

APP adds: Mr Gilani said his government was ready to hold a
jirga on the issue of Balochistan and that consultations in
this regard were already under way.

“I feel that if the provincial government wants we should
hold a jirga or an all-party conference on the issue,” he
remarked. “We are ready to organise whatever they want us
to.”

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11, March, 2012

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AG receives SC order on execution of NRO verdict

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 10: The office of Attorney General Maulvi
Anwarul Haq on Saturday received the three-page order of
the Supreme Court on the implementation of the NRO
judgment, which he is supposed to communicate to Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

At the last hearing on March 8, a seven-judge Supreme Court
bench had directed the AG to convey to the prime minister
the court’s renewed directive on implementation of the
National Reconciliation Ordinance.

Regardless of any advice to him by the law secretaries and
the law ministers, the court had said in its fresh order
the prime minister as chief executive of the country should
implement the directive contained in paragraphs 177 and 178
of the NRO judgment.

Now the prime minister has to submit his response when the
court meets on March 21 suggesting his intentions whether
he is complying with the fresh directive of the apex court
or will chose to defy.

The Supreme Court is seized with the contempt case against
the prime minister for wilfully flouting, disregarding and
disobeying the direction given by this court in Para 178
that ask for reviving the request by the government of
Pakistan for mutual legal assistance in the case relating
to the laundered money lying in foreign countries,
including Switzerland. The graft cases worth $60 million
also involved President Asif Ali Zardari.

While framing the contempt charge, the court had stated
that the prime minister was legally bound to obey the
directions of the court and by not doing so he had
committed contempt.

TWIST & TURN: The unexpected twist in the event as usual
gave legal experts the opportunity to dissect and to
foretell what the future may hold for the prime minister.

This is a significant development, said Justice (retd)
Tariq Mehmood, saying the situation was fast evolving
towards a possibility where the court seized with the
contempt matter could invoke Section 13 of the Contempt of
Court Ordinance 2003 which deals with the procedure in
cases of contempt in the face of the court.

Section 13 of the contempt law says: (1) In the case of a
contempt committed in the face of the court, the court may
cause the contemnor/offender to be detained in custody and
may proceed against him. Provided that if the case can not
be finally disposed of on the same day, the court may order
the release of the accused from the custody either on bail
or on his own bond.

(2) In all cases of contempt in the face of the court the
judge shall pass an order in open court recording
separately what was said or done by the accused person and
shall immediately proceed against the offender or may refer
the matter to the chief justice for hearing and deciding
the case by himself or by another judge.

Advocate Chaudhry Ramzan somehow endorsed the legal
proposition saying the court has the authority to hand down
any kind of penalty to the contemnor be it the prime
minister or ordinary offender.

The court can reprimand, or pass a sentence even for a day
or six months or could sentence the prime minister till
rising of the court.

In case the Supreme Court passed a sentence for a day or
more than that, the president enjoys the authority to
pardon the sentence given by the court under Article 45 of
the Constitution.

But in case the Supreme Court penalized the prime minister
till rising of the court for defying its order by not
writing the letter to the Swiss authorities, the situation
would be very grave since the president would have no time
to pardon the prime minister, he explained.

The rising of the court means he elucidated that the
offender would have to remain detain within the courtroom
till the bench finishes its judicial function and rises.

This also means that the conviction would be glued with the
prime minister for all times to come with all its
consequences and repercussions, he said.

However the prime minister will still have the right to
file an appeal against the sentence under section 19 of the
contempt laws, he said.

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11, February, 2012

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Kohistan killings: Five suspects arrested, says Malik

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By Farooq Ahmed Khan

GILGIT, March 10: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said
the alleged perpetrators of the target killing of 16 bus
passengers in Kohistan district late last month have been
traced through frequency of their cellphones and five of
them have already been arrested.

However, their identity cannot be disclosed at the moment.

Speaking to journalists here on Saturday, Mr Malik said
there was no need to conduct raids to arrest the alleged
killers because the Jirga system was quite effective in the
northern parts of the country.

“The names of the killers will be given to the Jirga
members who will hand them over to the law-enforcement
agencies,” the minister remarked.

Mr Malik was of the opinion that the incident should not be
viewed as a terrorist action against a particular sect.
“Rather, the killings were carried out by those who want to
destabilise the state, the government and are active
throughout our country.

“An international conspiracy may be under way and the
investigators have taken this into consideration.”

He said an adequate amount had been given to the chief
minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, who would distribute cheques
among the heirs of the victims of Kohistan carnage. Some of
the heirs would be provided jobs by the authorities.

Mr Malik said nobody would be allowed to create dissension
and disharmony among the various sects. Security on the
Karakoram Highway had been beefed up.
In order to abolish the “no-go” areas in the region, the
Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts and Punjab Rangers had been given
the powers of police, he said.

The paramilitary forces would assist the police in dealing
with criminal and terrorist activities in the region.

Mr Malik said that offices for issuance of passports and
identity cards would be set up soon in the Diamer district.
“I will myself inaugurate these offices.”

He said the number of flights linking Gilgit with the rest
of the country would be increased.

He said that foreigners could not buy property in Gilgit
until they obtained no-objection certificates from the
Gilgit-Baltistan authorities and the Foreign Office in
Islamabad.

Earlier, the minister was given a briefing on the law and
order situation by officials of the Gilgit-Baltistan
administration and by senior paramilitary personnel.

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11, March, 2012

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Three more religious groups banned

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 10: The government banned on Saturday
another three religious/charity organisations working in
the country.

According to a senior official of the interior ministry,
with the latest ban imposed on Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat
(ASWJ), Al Harmain Foundation (AHF) and Rabita Trust (RT),
the number of outlawed organisations and groups has risen
to 38. The three organisations were outlawed by the United
Nations in 2009 under a resolution adopted by the Security
Council.

The ASWJ, known previously as the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan
(SSP), is taking part in activities of a recently-formed
group of religious organisations -- Difa-i-Pakistan
Council.

The council recently attracted large crowds at some of its
public meetings in different cities where it lambasted both
Islamabad and Washington.

The council may strongly react to the government’s decision
to ban one of its important members.

The AHF is a Saudi Arabia-based organisation and also
working in Pakistan.

The official said the interior ministry had sent letters to
the four provincial home secretaries, informing them about
the ban on the three organisations. According to the BBC,
ASWJ chief Maulana Ahmed Ludhyanvi expressed ignorance
about any such ban. However, he said if it was true he
would opt for a legal fight. “We are a peaceful
organisation,” he was quoted as saying. “If anyone places a
ban on us…they are trying to place a ban on Pakistan.”

A document, which the BBC describes as a notification
issued by the interior ministry that was not publicly
announced, claimed that the ASWJ was suspected to be
involved in acts of terrorism in the country and,
therefore, it was being added to the first schedule of the
Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The organisations previously banned by the government are:
Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (banned on Aug
14, 2001), Jaish-i-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Sipah-i-
Sahaba Pakistan, Tehrik-i-Jaafria Pakistan, Tehrik-i-Nifaz-
i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi, Tehrik-i-Islami (on Jan 14, 2002),
Al Qaeda (on March 17, 2003), Millat-i-Islamia Pakistan,
Khuddam-ul-Islam, Islami Tehreek Pakistan (on Nov 15,
2003), Jamiat-ul-Ansar, Jamiat-ul-Furqan, Hizbut Tehrir (on
Nov 20, 2003), Khair-un-Naas International Trust (on Oct
27, 2004), Balochistan Liberation Army (on April 7, 2006),
Islamic Students Movement of Pakistan (on Aug 21, 2006),
Lashkar-i-Islam, Ansar-ul-Islam, Haji Namdar Group (on June
30, 2008), Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (on Aug 25, 2008),
Jamatud Daawa, Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rashid Trust (banned
under the UNSC resolution 1267 on Dec 10, 2008), Shia Talba
Action Committee, Markaz-i-Sabeel (Gilgit), Tanzeem
Naujawan-i-Sunnat (Gilgit), People’s Aman Committee,
Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan Liberation Front,
Lashkar-i-Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation United Front
and Balochistan Musallah Difa Tanzeem (banned in 2011).

Sunni Tehrik was put on a watchlist on Jan 14, 2002.

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11, March, 2012

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Habib claims giving money to Nawaz by hand

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KARACHI, March 10: Former Mehran Bank chief Younis Habib on
Saturday came out with a fresh claim, saying that he had
delivered money by hand to Pakistan Muslim League chief
Nawaz Sharif at his home.

According to the website of a private television network,
Younis Habib also said Rs 2.5 million was paid to Shahbaz
Sharif through telegraphic transfer (TT) on Sept 27, 1993.

Habib further said Aftab Sherpao was given a “big amount”
so that he could bring sizable deposits” to Mehran Bank.

The star of the Mehran scam, added   a sombre note to his
utterances, claiming that in order   to atone for the wrong
done to People’s Party in 1990, he   extended support in 1993
elections to PPP by using money to   pit “Maulanas against
Nawaz Sharif”.

He said the money paid to politicians was nothing less than
a bribe, admitting that taking or giving bribe was a sin.—
Dawn Monitor

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11, March, 2012

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Judicial Commission recommends judges for   FSC, LHC

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 10: The Judicial Commission (JC) on
Saturday recommended the elevation of Shaikh Ahmed Farooq
and Justice (retd) Rashid Jehangir as judges of the Federal
Shariat Court.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who presided over
the commission’s meeting, also approved the names of Abdus
Sami Khan, Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, Shahid Waheed, Shujat Ali
Khan and Baqqir Ali Najfi as additional judges of the
Lahore High Court for a one-year term.

The recommendations so suggested by the commission will now
be taken up by the Parliamentary Committee (PC) for
approval.

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11, March, 2012

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Six pro-govt militiamen gunned down

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QUETTA, March 10: Six members of a pro-government peace
lashkar were killed in Phelawagh area of Dera Bugti
district on Saturday night, officials said.

A district official said the lashkar men were going home
from Sui town on motorcycles when gunmen intercepted them,
killing them on the spot.
The assailants took away their weapons and motorcycles.

The bodies were shifted to a hospital in Sui by personnel
of the Frontier Corps and Levies Force.

According to the post-mortem report, the lashkar men were
shot at close range.

They bodies were handed over to the heirs after legal
formalities.—Saleem Shahid

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11, March, 2012

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US, Pakistan agree to continue talks for improving
relations

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By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, March 10: The United States and Pakistan have
agreed to continue talks for improving bilateral relations,
says a senior US official.

Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides also said that the US
had provided over $2.6 billion in civilian assistance to
Pakistan since October 2009, including about $800 million
in emergency flood relief.

On Friday afternoon, Mr Nides met Pakistan’s Minister of
State for Investment Saleem Mandviwalla, at the State
Department.

An hour after this meeting, Deputy Secretary Nides also met
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman.

Before these meetings, he held an early morning video
conference with officials at the US Embassy in Islamabad.
In a statement issued by his office after the meetings, Mr
Nides assured the Pakistanis that the United States
remained committed to a long-term relationship with them.

Ambassador Rehman and Deputy Secretary Nides also “agreed
to continue such conversations to ensure transparency and
clarity on US assistance to Pakistan”, the statement said.

Mr Mandviwalla also had a separate meeting with US
Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the
Environment Robert Hormats.

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12, March, 2012

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Taliban claim responsibility: Suicide blast at funeral; 16
dead

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By Ali Hazrat Bacha

PESHAWAR, March 11: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a
funeral in the suburban Badbher area, killing 16 people and
injuring 33 others on Sunday.

A senior police official said Advocate Khushdil Khan,
Deputy Speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, appeared to
be the target of the attack. The blast took place
immediately after he had left the place.

(According to western news agencies, the Darra Adamkhel
faction of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed
responsibility for attack. Taliban spokesman Mohammad
Afridi said the politician was the target because he had
set up a militia to battle against the Taliban.

“These militias are the front lines for the Pakistan army,”
the spokesman said.)
SSP (Investigation) Umer Riaz told Dawn that parts of the
bomber’s body had been found at the blast site.

Bomb disposal personnel said that 8 to 10kg of explosives
had been used in the blast and ball-bearings, batteries and
cables of the suicide vest had been found at the site.

Capital City Police Officer Syed Imtiaz Altaf said it was a
suicide attack.

Another police officer said the funeral was for the wife of
Imdad Khan, a member of the local peace committee.

He said the bomber possibly lived in the locality and
reached the place when funeral prayers were being offered.

Those killed in the attack were identified as Zarshad,
Khalid Dad, Mir Ahmed, Farman Ali, Khan Shah, Kamran, Raees
Khan, Hameed Khan, Syed Afridi, Sana-ur-Rehman, Ahmed Khan,
Shahbaz, Iftikhar, Raheemshah, Ameen Khan and Raees Khan.

The deputy speaker said he had escaped miraculously. “I
believe in Almighty Allah and am not afraid of attackers.
Hundreds of our party men have rendered sacrifices for the
sake of the soil,” he said.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has announced a
compensation of Rs300,000 for family of each deceased and
Rs100,000 for family of each injured.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar and
Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti condemned the killing
of innocent people. They said terrorists could not put
pressure on the government with such inhuman and barbaric
acts.

Agencies add: “We are devastated,’’ said Zahir Khan, 32,
weeping while lying in a hospital bed. His elder brother
Raees Khan died in the attack. He said they were chatting
when the bomb went off. ‘’I never knew I was going to lose
my brother forever.’’ Khan said.

“Why did you murder my brother? He was so beautiful,” he
said.

“This morning we had our breakfast together. My mother will
not survive if I show her his body.”
“We lifted the coffin and headed towards the graveyard
after the prayers when a huge blast was heard,” Saddam
Hussain, 21, described the carnage.

“There were body parts and blood stains. People were crying
for help.

“There was no doctor and no ambulance. People who had come
to attend the funeral, put the casualties in their cars and
rushed to hospital. I myself put one wounded man in a car
heading to the hospital.”

“How is attacking a funeral Islamic in any way?” Asfandyar
Wali Khan, head of the ANP, told reporters in Islamabad.

“I say that these people aren’t followers of Islam,” he
added. “I don’t even consider them human.”

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12, March, 2012

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Budget to be presented in May: minister

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KARACHI, March 11: The federal budget will be presented in
May and consultations will be held with coalition partners
and the opposition on the schedule for general elections,
Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah said
here on Sunday.

Talking to reporters after addressing a conference of
religious scholars, he said the elections would be held in
a free, fair and transparent manner.

Mr Shah said that because of President Asif Ali Zardari’s
policy of reconciliation the government had completed four
years of its tenure.
The federal minister said conspiracies were hatched against
PPP’s governments in every era and people should know who
had received how much money.

Addressing the conference, the minister urged ulema to play
an active role in the campaign against polio and help
spread awareness through their sermons so that people
should fully participate in it. He said polio had been
eradicated from most of the world “but we are yet to
achieve this goal”.

He stressed that concerted efforts were required to save
children from the crippling disease. The ulema assured the
minister of their help in efforts to eradicate polio.

Ruet-i-Hilal Committee’s chairman Mufti Munibur Rehman also
spoke on the occasion.—APP

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12, March, 2012

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PM virtually rules out writing letter: Immunity issue is
parliament’s domain: Gilani

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By Zulqernain Tahir

LAHORE, March 11: Making clear his stance on writing a
letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases against
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani said here on Sunday that had his government wanted
to do that so much time would not have been spent on the
matter.

The Supreme Court has given the deadline of March 21 to the
prime minister to write the letter.

“We would not have waited for so long were we to write the
letter to Swiss authorities. I will follow the Constitution
which gives immunity to the office of the president,” he
said while talking to journalists at the State Guest House.

“All over the world there is immunity for the president,
prime minister and foreign minister. I do not have the
prerogative to take a decision about immunity issue because
it rests with parliament.”

He said: “Parliament, not I, should be charged for contempt
of court for giving immunity.

“Had I been the chief justice of Pakistan I would have
referred the immunity issue to parliament.”

The prime minister said parliament had unanimously passed
the 18th, 19th and 20th Amendments to the Constitution but
had not felt the need to take up the issue of president’s
immunity.

“You know I am a small man. I am not the target. You know
who is the real target.”

When asked about acting on his lawyer’s advice about
writing the letter, he said the media had mixed two
different cases.

“I will not take anyone’s advice (in the Swiss case). I
will act in accordance with the Constitution.”

The prime minister said nobody except parliament had the
authority to rewrite the Constitution.

About not giving extension to the chief of Inter-Service
Intelligence, he said: “Had we granted extension to Pasha
Sahib we would have been accused of striking a deal or
having done so under pressure.”

He said the new ISI chief was a competent person and the
government had “good relations” with the army.

Replying to a question, he said the Mehran Bank case should
have been taken up long ago.

He said the PPP had been facing conspiracies since its
inception and now the PML-N had also started saying so.
“Against a lot of odds we have achieved our target of
conducting Senate polls. Our next target is to present the
fifth budget of our government and then we will talk to our
friends about holding general elections,” he said.

“I am the longest serving prime minister of the country and
this is the fifth year of my tenure.”

The prime minister said all parties had agreed on creating
a province in south Punjab, but a resolution in this regard
was not being allowed in the Punjab Assembly and the PPP
was weighing other options.

He said a decision about an all parties’ conference on
Blaochistan would be taken after receiving suggestions in
this regard from the province’s governor, chief minister,
ministers and legislators.

The prime minister said a report he had received on Sunday
from the interior ministry showed that the number of
missing persons was 49.

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12, March, 2012

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Jilted girl’s acid revenge

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By Our Staff Correspondent

FAISALABAD, March 11: In a rare departure from the usual
inhuman practice in which women suffer acid assaults at the
hands of men, a young man got his face badly burned when a
girl allegedly threw the burning chemical at him in a
village near here on Sunday.

Hailing from Marzipura, 21-year-old Mohsin told police that
he was standing near a bus stop when Nabeela, 20, arrived
there, threw acid at him and escaped.
Mohsin said he had started ignoring Nabeela for some time
which led her to take the extreme step. Mohsin provided
little detail about his affairs with the girl.

Lyallpur Town SP Zahid Gondal told Dawn that the girl had
been taken into custody on the basis of Mohsin’s statement.

Mohsin was admitted to Allied Hospital where his condition
was described as stable.

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12, March, 2012

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NTDC hires 60 engineers in violation of rules

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By Ahmad Fraz Khan

LAHORE, March 11: Demonstrating total disregard for
transparency and merit, the National Transmission and
Dispatch Company (NTDC) has recruited 60 junior engineers
even though they had failed to clear the written test for
the post. Sources in the company said that all of the
candidates were appointed because instructions to hire them
came from the highest political office of the country, or
the federal ministry of water and power, or some were able
to pay for it.

However, the Prime Minister’s Secretariat denied issuing
any such instructions and promised to “hold an inquiry to
see if merit has been violated and who did what in the
entire process”.

On July 6, the NTDC announced 150 posts for junior
engineers, receiving 8,879 applications online. A total of
8,621 candidates were shortlisted and invited for a written
test in which 5,733 took part and 1,455 were declared
successful.
But, the company insiders alleged that the entire process
was mere eyewash. To begin with, the result of the test was
never posted on the Internet as was expected keeping in
view the acceptance of applications online.

A three-member committee – comprising general manager
(GSC), chief engineer (design) and chief engineer (GSO) –
was nominated for interviews and selection. All three
officers were working on the “current charge (temporary)
basis” and were therefore thought to be vulnerable to all
kinds of pressure and inducement. The three officers were
reportedly vying for promotion and interestingly they were
promoted once the recruitment process was over.

As soon as the process entered the interview (selection)
stage, the company high-ups handed over a list of 61
candidates to the selection board with instructions to
include them in the list of successful candidates. The
committee was told that the list had “come from the prime
minister’s and the federal minister’s offices, and has to
be accommodated.”

According to insiders, only three among the 61 candidates
had cleared the written test, 57 had failed and one had
neither applied for the job nor appeared in the test.

All of them were included in the final list but the Human
Resource and Admin Director – a grade 20 officer nearing
his retirement – refused to go along. He said appointment
letters cannot be issued to those who had failed the
written test. The HR&AD was the most important person in
the process as he had to notify successful candidates and
issue appointment letters. On February 1, the DR&AD was
told to “either go on leave or face transfer to a far flung
area” because he was refusing to comply with orders from
the high-ups. The gentleman proceeded on 85-day leave.

“These candidates came from politically or financially
influential background and it does not take a genius to
know how they would serve the organisation,” a former
member (power) of Wapda said.

The company needs to explain why it decided to recruit such
high number of engineers in one go, why it chose not to
post the result of the test on the Internet, why the
interview committee comprised ad hoc officers, why they
were promoted within days of completing interviews and why
the HR&AD was forced to go on leave, the ex-member said.

When contacted, the Pepco and NTDC spokesman denied
allegations and said: “No one was recruited without merit.
The entire process was carried out under relevant rules and
regulations.”

About the posting of results on the Internet, he said it
“was never practised earlier” and conceded that members of
the selection board just happened to be working on acting
charge basis.

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12, March, 2012

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TV actress Tahira Wasti is dead

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By Our Staff Reporter

KARACHI, March 11: Renowned television actress Tahira Wasti
passed away here on Sunday.

She was 68.

She is survived by a daughter and a son. She had fallen ill
a week ago and could not recover from the illness.

Tahira Wasti began her television career in the ’60s with
her husband Rizwan Wasti, who died last year.

Early on in her career she was a newscaster, like her
husband.

Tahira Wasti acted in and wrote many plays for Pakistan
Television.

She shot to fame in a play titled Afshan in which she
played the role of Najmus Sahar.
Some of her other memorable plays were Aakhri Chatan, Shama
and Shaheen.

Tahira Wasti’s daughter has also performed in some TV
plays.

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12, March, 2012

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British minister faces legal action over drone strikes

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LONDON, March 11: Lawyers for the family of a man killed in
a US drone attack in Pakistan said they would begin legal
action against Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague on
Monday, accusing him of complicity in strikes they said
broke international laws.

London law firm Leigh Day & Co said it had “credible,
unchallenged” evidence that Hague oversaw a policy of
passing British intelligence to US forces planning attacks
against militants in Pakistan. It plans to issue formal
proceedings against Hague at the High Court in London on
behalf of Noor Khan, whose father died in a drone attack
last year.

Malik Daud Khan was part of a local jirga, or council of
elders, holding a meeting in the tribal areas of Pakistan
when a missile fired from the drone hit the group, the law
firm said.

Attacks by pilot-less US aircraft have become a key weapon
in President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy in
Pakistan and officials say they have helped to weaken Al
Qaeda’s leadership in the region. However, the attacks have
become a source of friction between Washington and
Islamabad.

Leigh Day & Co will argue that those involved in armed
attacks can only claim immunity from criminal law if they
are “lawful combatants” taking part in an “international
armed conflict”.

Khan’s lawyers will say that staff working at UK Government
Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in southwest England,
Britain’s main intelligence monitoring centre, may have
broken the law.

As civilians, they were not classed as combatants and could
be prosecuted, the law firm said. They would also say that
Pakistan was not involved in an international conflict.

“There is credible, unchallenged evidence that (Hague) is
operating a policy of passing intelligence to officials or
agents of the US government and that he considers such a
policy to be in ‘strict accordance’ with the law,” Richard
Stein, head of human rights at Leigh Day, said in a
statement.

“If this is the case, the Secretary of State has
misunderstood one or more of the principles of
international law governing immunity for those involved in
armed attacks on behalf of a state.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said it did not comment on
ongoing legal proceedings.

Asked whether Britain helped the United States in drone
attacks, the spokesman added: “We don’t comment on
intelligence matters.”—Reuters

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13, March, 2012

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Wheat export, funding for gas pipeline on agenda: ECC
likely to impose GST on hydropower

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By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, March 12: The Economic Coordination Committee of
the cabinet is likely to approve on Tuesday a proposal to
export over two million tons of wheat, impose 16 per cent
general sales tax on hydropower produced by Wapda, clear
Rs6.1 billion commercial loan of Pakistan Railways and
consider a proposal to import urea for the coming Kharif
season.

A meeting of the ECC, to be presided over by Finance
Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, may also discuss financing
arrangements for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project for
completing it by December 2014.

Iran has promised to provide $300 million for the pipeline
to be built in Pakistan, but a written offer from Tehran is
still awaited.

The meeting is expected to consider a proposal for a one-
time tax-free import of some industrial products from
India.

Sources told Dawn on Monday that there was a carryover
stock of about 3.4 million tons of wheat from last season,
while the new crop to be harvested from April 1 was likely
to yield an additional 25 million tons.

Considering a domestic requirement of about 23 million tons
for the year ahead, government agencies expect a surplus of
more than five million tons, which will not only create
storage problems and constrain the provincial governments
from procuring fresh produce but also create a huge
circular debt crisis for the banking industry.

The authorities are of the opinion that strategic reserves
of about two million tons of wheat are sufficient for
market intervention — one million tons to be kept with the
federal agencies and a similar quantity to be shared with
the provincial governments.

The ECC meeting will be briefed on the overall stock
position and expected crop yield this season and will be
requested to consider the proposal to provide subsidies for
exports to replace the existing stock with fresh produce in
view of the fact that lower international prices make
Pakistan’s grain non-competitive.
On top of the surplus stocks, the recent increase in wheat
support price by over 10 per cent announced by the centre
has put the Punjab government in a quandary because of over
Rs100 billion stuck in the wheat trade and fresh crop ready
to be procured at Rs1,050 per 40kg.

The sources said the wheat trade was becoming a major
political issue ahead of the next general election because
the federal government had announced the higher support
price without discussing it with chief ministers in the
Council of Common Interests. The Punjab government has
criticised the decision because it will have to offer the
same price to its farmers.

The ECC will also consider a proposal for 16 per cent GST
on hydropower generation. The issue was discussed at a
previous ECC meeting but was deferred owing to the absence
of Wapda chairman. The ECC had directed the Wapda chairman
to attend the next meeting.

The issue emanates from an anomaly in the sale tax
adjustment mechanism and Wapda’s accounting processes.
While independent power producers (IPPs) invoice their
sales to the Central Power Purchase Agency on variable
energy purchase charges, Wapda’s similar invoices also
include a two-part tariff — fixed charge and variable
charge.

If Wapda charges output sales tax on the amount of total
monthly invoice (both fixed and variable charges), there
will be a huge output tax to be paid to the Federal Board
of Revenue against a normal input (i.e. operation and
maintenance of hydroelectric power) which is nearly five
per cent of the total output tax, raising serious cash flow
problems for Wapda. Therefore, Wapda wants application of
sales tax only on variable charges.

The ECC may also approve a Rs6.1 billion loan for Railways
to be raised by a consortium of commercial banks, led by
the National Bank of Pakistan, for procurement of new
locomotives. The ministry of finance will provide sovereign
guarantee for securing principal and mark-up payments which
can always be invoked in case of non-payment/short payment
of instalments.

The ministry of railways will make a legal provision in its
budget for the next five years for payment of instalments
to the consortium and will ensure that railways’ assets are
not sold till the clearance of the loan.

The committee may also consider a proposal to compensate
four IPPs because of recent disruption in gas supplies by
amending agreements relating to force majeure clauses.

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13, March, 2012

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Naek may become law minister

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By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD, March 12: PPP leader Farooq Naek, who left the
office of Senate chairman on Sunday, is likely to replace
Maula Bux Chandio as Law Minister.

It was stated by a senior official at the presidency on
Sunday.

He said the decision had been taken at recent meetings of
the PPP core committee and heads of coalition parties.

Mr Naek was not available for comment, and Mr Chandio
expressed his ignorance about the decision.

“If this decision has been taken by the party, I will
accept it in god spirit,” he said.

A PPP leader said President Asif Ali Zardari wanted to
benefit from Mr Naek’s expertise as a senior lawyer. He had
fought several cases of the president when the latter was
in jail.

The PPP leader said the mater had been discussed in detail
at a recent meeting of the party’s core committee because
Mr Naek’s services were needed in cases before the Supreme
Court and high courts.
It is learnt that there are some other aspirants for the
office, including former law minister Babar Awan and
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.

The PPP leader said the ministry was virtually being run by
the former law minister and his brother who was serving as
an adviser to the minister.

He said Mr Naek had to leave the top Senate post because
the president was of the view that the party required a
strong legal team to contest cases of its leaders in the
apex court.

However, some party leaders indicated that reported
differences between the president and Mr Naek on some
issues might have led to the change.

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13, March, 2012

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Change of guard goes off smoothly in Senate

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By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, March 12: Senate’s new Chairman Nayyer Hussain
Bokhari and Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch took oath of
office after their unanimous election on Monday. In
accordance with an agreement among various parties, the
opposition did not field any candidate against the PPP
nominees.

Mr Bokhari took the oath amid cheers and pro-Bhutto slogans
raised by people in the visitors’ gallery. He later swore
in Mr Baloch. Both were wearing badges of Benazir Bhutto.

Senators belonging to different parties, including Chaudhry
Shujaat Hussain, Mushahid Hussain and Ishaq Dar, came to Mr
Bokhari to congratulate him after presiding officer
Afrasiab Khatak announced his unanimous election.
Mr Khatak said Mr Bokhari’s nomination papers had been
found to be in order by the Senate secretary and declared
him unanimously elected because no other papers had been
filed for the post.

The swearing-in was followed by speeches congratulating Mr
Bokhari and Mr Baloch and highlighting the challenges
ahead.

The situation in Balochistan with a reference to the issue
of missing persons and mutilated bodies, the role of
intelligence agencies and Pakistan-US relationship were the
subjects touched by several members. Voices were raised
against the opening of air corridor for Nato supplies
without waiting for parliament’s decision on the nature of
future relationship with the United States and Nato.

PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat said conspiracies had been
hatched against the Senate over the past couple of months,
but expressed confidence that it would continue to serve as
the upper house of parliament.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Mr Bokhari’s
unanimous election was a demonstration of the trust reposed
in him, but also posed a great challenge to him. He said
the endorsement of the nomination of the chairman and
deputy chairman by the opposition and coalition parties
would strengthen political forces. He said it would send a
clear message to undemocratic forces that political parties
were united on fundamental issues like where the locus of
power lay.

He reminded the chairman that during the previous
dictatorship the Senate secretariat had disallowed a large
number of questions, motions and resolutions from being
taken up on the floor of the house on the ground that the
issues raised were of “secret and sensitive nature”, which
led to the publication of a book titled ‘Killed in the
Chamber’. “Let Nayyer Bokhari not be remembered for killing
parliamentary instruments in his chamber,” he said.

Democratic and political workers would like to see Mr
Bokhari remembered as a chairman who instead of blunting
parliamentary instruments in his chamber sharpened them
through open discussion and debate in the house, he said.
Mr Babar said political power belonged to parliament and
the people but over the past decades the substance of power
had also shifted to non-political forces, resulting in an
imbalance between political and non-political elements.

He said the chairman and the Senate faced the challenging
task of correcting this imbalance between political and
non-political forces.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan stressed the need for legislation to
define the role of intelligence agencies. He said
influential segments deemed themselves to be above the law.

He said the Constitution was supreme and all institutions
must function within the ambit defined by it.

Mir Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party said it was a
challenge to bring foreign policy out of the GHQ and make
it subservient to parliament.

He said the political cells in intelligence agencies should
be disbanded.

He also raised the issue of abductions and killings in
Balochistan and said time had come to give results to
people.

Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party said steps beyond
apology were needed to reconcile the angry Baloch leaders.

He said the Senate should have the powers to amend and even
reject the money bill and there should be no bar on non-
Muslims becoming president and prime minister of the
country.

Mushahid Hussain said no intelligence agency was above the
law and termed the missing persons issue as a test case for
the new Senate. He called for implementation of the report
of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan.

Before reading out the prorogation order, the new chairman
said presence of ministers in the house would be ensures,
especially of those with questions relating to their
ministries on the agenda. He said steps would be taken to
make the question hour meaningful.
The election of chairman and deputy chairman was preceded
by the swearing-in of newly elected senators.

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13, March, 2012

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War against polio seen as national obligation

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By Ahmad Hassan

ISLAMABAD, March 12: Political rivals in parliament have
joined hands to fight the crippling disease of polio that
has attacked over 200 children in the country over the past
couple of years.

At a news conference at the National Press Club here on
Monday, MNAs and senators belonging to the PPP, PML-N, MQM,
ANP, JUI-F and PML-Q said that fighting polio had become “a
national obligation” because 60 per cent of the polio cases
reported in the world last year had occurred in Pakistan.

They regretted that 198 polio cases had been reported in
the four provinces and Fata last year alone and the world
was rightly worried that Pakistan might export the virus.
No case was reported in India last year. Pakistan is among
four countries in the world with prevalence of polio.

MNAs Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Malik Shakil Awan of the
PML-N, MNA Akhunzada Chattan and Senator Saeeda Iqbal of
the PPP, MNA Asia Nasir of the JUI-F, MNA Parvaiz Khan of
the ANP, MNA Fauzia Ijaz Khan of the MQM and MNA Humayun
Saifullah Khan of PML (Likeminded) expressed concern over
the failure of successive anti-polio campaigns which caused
the epidemic to reach the alarming proportion.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Social Welfare Begum Shehnaz
Wazir Ali said the federal government had drafted a
legislation to make polio immunisation compulsory and
expected the provinces to follow suit after the devolution
of health-related issued to them.

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13, March, 2012

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Ijaz should bear forensic probe cost: Haqqani

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By Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD, March 12: Former ambassador to the United States
Husain Haqqani requested the memo commission on Monday not
to appoint a forensic expert at government expense for
verifying the data submitted by Pakistani-American
businessman Mansoor Ijaz, a central character in the memo
controversy.

“Since the forensic examination is being carried out at the
request of Mr Ijaz, its cost should be borne by him and
precious/scarce resources of the state of Pakistan should
not be wasted for any such purpose,” he said in his reply
to Mr Ijaz’s testimony claiming that he had drafted and
delivered the memorandum to the former US military chief
Admiral Mike Mullen through former US national security
adviser James Jones at the insistence of Mr Haqqani.

Although Mr Haqqani did not deny his contacts with Mr Ijaz,
he rejected the evidence produced against him.

He strongly denied Mr Ijaz’s claim in his testimony and
during cross-examination by the commission that he had been
in contact with him (Mr Haqqani) through BlackBerry
messenger during the events of May 9 to 12 last year and on
the issue relating to the memorandum.

“I did not receive, read or send out any email from Mr
Ijaz,” Mr Haqqani said in his reply. He said that since he
was not able to locate his BlackBerry handsets, despite
“earnest and sincere efforts”, he could not verify, reject
or recollect PIN numbers provided by Mr Ijaz during his
testimony.

Advocate Sajid Tanoli, the counsel for Mr Haqqani, told
Dawn that Advocate Zahid Bukhari would cross-examine Mr
Ijaz from London on March 15, the day when the commission,
headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez
Isa, would resume the hearing of the case in Islamabad.
After the cross-examination of Mr Ijaz, he said, his client
would appear before the commission to prove his innocence.

Mr Haqqani submitted to the commission his phone bills for
May, September, October and November 2011 and requested it
not to make them public.

“My privacy right should be respected. Disclosure of the
phone record may have serious national security
implications because during that period I was serving as
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.”

Mr Haqqani neither admitted nor denied exchange with Mr
Ijaz in its entirety, but vehemently denied the context,
explanations and assertions of the latter’s statement
before the commission with respect to preparation, origin,
purpose and authentication of the memo.

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13, March, 2012

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ISI always had political wing, says Mukhtar

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By Waseem Ashraf Butt

GUJRAT, March 12: Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has said
there has always been a political wing in the Directorate
of Inter Services Intelligence and the prime minister and
the president will be informed about the agency’s policies
and requirements by newly-appointed ISI Director General
Zahirul Islam.
Talking to journalists in his office here on Monday, the
minister said

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would consider any
proposal made by the new ISI chief about relations with the
US. Referring to the Mehran Bank scandal, Mr Mukhtar said
cases should be registered against all people involved in
the scam and those who had received huge amounts of money.

“The Mehran Bank scandal proves that PML-N received the
money and Shahbaz Sharif was paid the amount through the
bank.”

Mr Mukhtar said it was an irony that the PML-N which had
received money from the ISI was claiming to be clean and
levelling charges of corruption against President Asif Ali
Zardari.

Later, the defence minister distributed cheques of the
Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) among the needy and
poor women.

Earlier, scores of PPP workers from the town of Kunjah
staged a protest demonstration and chanted slogans against
the defence minister at his office against the rude
attitude of the minister.

The minister had earlier refused to meet workers and
ordered them to get out of office when they complained that
they were being ignored by the minister.

“Complaints of party workers annoyed Mr Mukhtar who said he
would continue to ignore workers even in future and asked
them to get out of his office and search for a new MNA for
themselves,” one estranged party worker told Dawn.

Latter, the PPP workers called on Gujrat PPP District
President Tahir Zaman Kaira in Lalamusa and another PPP
leader Mian Fakhar Mushtaq Pagganwala and informed them of
the harsh treatment meted out to them by the minister.

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13, March, 2012
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Desecration of Quran condemned

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By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, March 12: After a smooth sailing in nominating
loyalists to the offices of chairman and deputy chairman,
the Pakistan People’s Party leadership has now entered
uncertain waters in choosing the leader of house in the
Senate.

After all, the one chosen will be representing the prime
minister, and so, politically, has to be an ultra loyalist.

The post for the leader of the house fell vacant after
Nayyer Hussain Bokhari took charge as Senate chairman on
Monday.

Sources in the PPP told Dawn that the party leadership,
which faced no difficulty and received cooperation from all
coalition partners over the nomination of two party men for
the top Senate offices, was not getting a similar response
from them for appointment of a new leader of the house. One
of its major coalition partners has already refused to
accept possible nomination of Raza Rabbani for the office.

Although the PPP has not even suggested any name for the
office, Pakistan Muslim League-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat
Hussain has reportedly told President Asif Ali Zardari that
his party will not accept Mr Rabbani as the leader of the
house unless he apologised on the floor of the house over
his previous remarks against the party and its leadership.

“We cannot accept a man as leader of the house who does not
even recognise our party,” the PML-Q chief is reported to
have told President Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the
PPP.

According to the Constitution, the leader of the house in
the National Assembly becomes the country’s prime minister
and he is represented in the upper house by a senator who
is known as “leader of the house in the Senate”.
The sources said the PPP leadership considered both Mr
Rabbani and party stalwart Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan as the
most suitable candidates for the important slot, but it was
reluctant to nominate any of them because of their recent
track record.

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13, March, 2012

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Two killed in bomb explosion

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---

By Hussain Afzal

PARACHINAR, March 12: Two people were killed and 20 others
injured when a bomb ripped through a bus near Sadda town in
Kurram Agency on Monday.

The bus was going from Peshawar to Parachinar, the Kurram
Agency’s administrative headquarters, when it was hit by
the remote-controlled bomb planted on the road near Pir
Qayyum village.

The deceased were identified as Ashiq Hussain and Ghulam
Jafar.

Nine women and four children were among the wounded and two
passengers were taken to Peshawar hospitals.

The injured said that after the incident the residents of
the village took away cash and other belongings of
passengers.

Elders of the Turi tribe in Parachinar condemned the bomb
blast and looting of the injured.

Meanwhile, security forces defused two bombs planted along
the road in Mat Khuza area of lower Kurram Agency.
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13, March, 2012

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----

Patil says India committed to dialogue

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----

By Jawed Naqvi

NEW DELHI, March 12: Indian President Pratibha Patil has
said that India remains committed to resolving all
outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue.

Speaking at what could be her last budget session of
parliament on Monday, Mrs Patil made traditional reference
to the government’s foreign policy objectives.

“We are committed to resolving all outstanding issues with
Pakistan through dialogue,” the president said in her last
address to parliament before she retires shortly. The
ruling Congress party is said to lack the numbers to get
her re-elected for a second term.

“We look forward to building upon the progress made so far
mindful of the need for Pakistan to take credible action
against terrorist groups and the related infrastructure on
its soil,” she said.

The United States remains a valued strategic partner with
which India enjoys a multi-faceted relationship based on
Delhi’s national interests.

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13, March, 2012

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----

PIA faces action over safety issues
-----------------------------------------------------------
----

By Our Staff Reporter

KARACHI, March 12: The European Aviation Safety Agency has
suspended PIA’s ‘maintenance organisation approval’ for its
failure to meet the required standards.

As a result, sources said, the EASA in its meeting to be
held in Brussels next week could ban PIA’s European
operations.

The PIA has the right to appeal against the decision within
two months after paying the prescribed fee.

The sources said the suspension had exposed the performance
of the airline’s engineering department and would severely
affect its endeavor to get maintenance business from other
airlines which planned to carry out their operations in the
European Union area.

While informing aviation officials about poor safety
standards of the PIA, the European authorities said that
its operations would not be suspended if it did not commit
any more mistakes by March 12, the source said. But the
airline has been caught with at least two flaws well before
the date.

A letter sent on March 6 to PIA by the Cologne-based EASA
official Wilfried Schluze says: “On Jan 10, 2012, a PIA
Boeing 777, registration No:AP-BGJ, was subjected to
another Safa inspection in France which led to grounding
and subsequent ferry flight to Karachi of the said
aircraft. All reported Category 3 findings of this
inspection were related to maintenance issues like
undetected aircraft damage and repairs performed not in
accordance of approved data.

“On Feb 20, 2012, Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority
presented during a hearing in front of the EU Commission in
Brussels that several management positions within PIA had
been reassigned in the course of 2011. Among these
management changes also the chief engineer, quality
assurance, has been replaced. EASA was not informed about
these changes by the PIA. According to EASA records (Form
4) the position of chief engineer, quality assurance, has
not changed since 2010.

“EASA has reasonable grounds to classify the current
situation as a potential threat.

“As a result EASA finds that the mitigating measures put
into place in May 2010 to monitor the continuation of the
PIA Part 145 approval can no longer be relied on. This is
underlined by further non-compliance of PIA as shown above.
Ineffectiveness of monitoring by the CAA in combination
with an inefficient PIA quality assurance system where
there is also uncertainty about the key responsible persons
is classified as a potential safety threat because such a
system is unable to identify non-compliances and potential
safety hazards and, therefore, cannot ensure that
procedures used by PIA invoke good maintenance practices
and airworthy aircraft / components.Pursuant to Article
20(2)(c) of Regulation (EC) No:216/2008 in conjunction with
Paragraphs 145.B.45(a) of Annex II (Part-145) to Regulation
2042/2003, approval No: EASA.145.0004 will, therefore, be
suspended.”

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13, March, 2012

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More radiation detectors planned

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----

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 12: The network of radiation detectors is
being expanded around the country under an exports control
upgrade for interdicting the smuggling of nuclear fuel.

Several new radiation monitoring portals were being
installed to strengthen export controls, an official told
Dawn after a meeting presided over by Foreign Minister Hina
Rabbani Khar that reviewed nuclear safety.
“The meeting was briefed on the deployment of ‘special
nuclear material’ (SNM) portals at key exit and entry
points to deter, detect and prevent illicit trafficking of
nuclear and radioactive material,” a statement issued by
the Foreign Office said.

The term SNM refers to highly enriched uranium and weapon-
grade plutonium which can be employed as a primary
ingredient in nuclear explosives.

The portals are thought to be the second line of defence
against smuggling of nuclear and radiological material
through ports, border crossings and other designated
locations.

The meeting, the statement noted, was part of the country’s
efforts to augment the security of nuclear and radioactive
material and to strengthen export controls.

The review, described by an official as a continuous
process, took place ahead of a nuclear summit scheduled in
Seoul this month, where preventing illicit trafficking of
nuclear materials would be a major theme.

The summit, to be attended by 53 countries, including
Pakistan, and international organisations is being billed
as the largest gathering for deliberating on international
cooperative measures to protect nuclear material and
facilities from terrorist groups. It takes place at a time
of growing fears that terrorists might restart to use
smuggled nuclear material for acts of terror.

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13, March, 2012

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Waheeda case draws SC’s attention to service conditions

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----

By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD, March 12: The incident of slapping polling staff
by Syeda Waheeda Shah has now drawn attention of the
Supreme Court to indecorous service conditions of civil
servants.

As a result, the three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji
Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez sought parawise
comments and suggestions from secretary of the
Establishment Division as well as chief secretaries of the
four provinces and the chief commissioner of ICT on ways of
protecting fundamental rights of civil servants as
enshrined under Article 9 (security of person) and Article
18 (freedom of trade, business or profession) of the
Constitution.

The court had taken up the incident of PPP candidate
Waheeda Shah slapping an assistant presiding officer at a
polling station in Tando Mohammad Khan on a petition of
Anita Turab, a DMG officer.

Waheeda Shah has since been declared disqualified for two
years by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

On Monday, Anita Turab drew the attention of the court to
the lack of job security for civil servants and cited a
somewhat identical incident in Sargodha where a
schoolteacher was beaten up by a member of the ruling
party, but the DPO who tried to take action was transferred
to Gilgit-Baltistan.

“It is our considered opinion the civil servants were bound
to follow only lawful orders. It has been noticed that
whenever officers/officials/civil servants follow lawful
orders, they face resistance invariably and several times
they are humiliated through transfers from one place to
another or posting them as Officers on Special Duty or
baseless proceedings of disciplinary nature are initiated
against them,” the court said in its order.

Such transfer orders were issued even by the competent
authorities concerned, disallowing civil servants to
complete their tenure period, without adhering to rules and
regulations, the order deplored.
Frequent transfers, postings and suspensions take place in
different departments contrary to the law, rule and
regulations, the court noted.

Referring to a recent incident in which the schoolteacher
was tortured in Sialkot, the court deplored that both legs
of the teacher had been fractured because of physical
torture and ordered the Punjab Inspector General of Police
to personally look into the matter and submit a report in
this regard. The IG will also inform whether the DPO
Sargodha had been transferred outside the province for his
initiative to take action.

The report must reach the Supreme Court before March 28
when the case will be resumed.

During proceedings, Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad
Alizai submitted a report compiled by the ECP on the
Waheeda Shah case.

A police report was also submitted stating that the
disqualified candidate had been charged with the offence
under the Representation of the People Act, 1976, and the
Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Mirpur Khas Deputy Inspector General of Police Ghulam
Haider Jamali informed the court that disciplinary action
had been initiated against the SDPO and others who were
allegedly present inside the polling station at the time of
the slapping incident.

But the DIG failed to give a satisfactory answer when the
court inquired about the status of SDPO Syed Irfan Ali Shah
in whose presence the incident of beating of two lady
teachers had taken place.

“The SDPO is an inspector, but due to shortage of officers
has been posted as the SDPO,” he replied.

But Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi, one of the petitioners,
challenged the DIG’s statement and alleged that in Sindh a
large number of police officers had been given shoulder
promotions.

Recalling that in a separate case the Supreme Court had
already held the trend of shoulder promotions as illegal,
it was expected of the IG and the four chief secretaries to
take action by demoting to original ranks all those given
out-of-turn shoulder promotions.

In case there is shortage of officers relevant rules should
be followed for promoting them to next higher grades purely
on merit and in accordance with the law. This will
encourage the merit policy and people deserving promotions
under the law will get their rights.

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14, March, 2012

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Chinese bank ditches Iran gas project

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----

By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD, March 13: A consortium led by the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has ‘run away’ from
providing financial advisory services for the Iran-Pakistan
gas pipeline project apparently because of the US
opposition to the plan and forced the government to look
for alternative financing options.

“It is apprehended that a probable reason for not signing
the agreement (to act as financial adviser for the project)
till date could be geopolitical situation in the region,” a
summary presented to the Economic Coordination Committee
(ECC) of the cabinet on Tuesday said.

A meeting of the ECC presided over by Finance Minister Dr
Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was informed by Petroleum Secretary
Mohammad Ejaz Chaudhry that the Chinese consortium’s leader
had “run away from the project”.

It was informed that on the directives of decision-making
forums, “a top class financial adviser had been appointed
through international competitive bidding following
procurement rules”.
The contract with Habib Bank and Ernst & Young Ford Rhodes
Sidat Hyder (EYFRSH) — two other members of the advisory
consortium — had been signed by Inter-State gas Systems
(ISGS), a state owned company, in the first week of January
but the ICBC had been delaying the signing of a formal
agreement. Now, the HBL and the EYFRSH were also not giving
a clear response, the meeting was informed.

“The petroleum ministry informed that the existing parties
of the ICBC and HBL are showing less interest in the IP
project, so the ECC may go for other options,” an official
statement issued after the meeting said.

The ‘front-end engineering design’ feasibility and a
detailed route survey are being done by a consortium
comprising the ILF of China and Nespak and are expected to
be completed by June, on the basis of which bids will be
invited for the 800km pipeline inside Pakistan for an
engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract at
an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.

The project involves a debt-equity ratio of 70:30 with the
government having a majority share in equity.

Tender documents have been issued to pipeline suppliers and
EPC contractors so that the contracts can be executed by
the third quarter of this year. The contracts will form a
major portion of the funding requirement for the project.

It has been proposed that as an alternative to the
arrangement with the Chinese bank, the government should
route the Infrastructure Development Cess recently imposed
on gas consumers to Pakistani banks who should then create
a fund with the government. The funding can be routed to
the ISGS to meet financial requirements of the project that
would help reduce the tariff for imported gas. Initial
estimates suggest that the cess will be sufficient to meet
the project’s funding requirements.

The ECC was requested to allow cancellation of the ICBC
contract and to approach the second bidder, comprising the
United Bank, Burj Capital Pakistan, Eco Trade Development
Bank, Fieldstone Group and Islamic Corporation for
Development of Private Sector, to sign a contract to
provide debt and private equity for the project on similar
terms.
The committee was also urged to consider government-to-
government offers from China, Russia and Iran for providing
funds for the project.

Iran has offered $300 million and Russia has offered to
provide funding if the EPC contract is given to its
companies without bidding. To accept the options, the
government will have to bypass the Public Procurement
Regulatory Authority’s rules.

The ECC constituted a committee comprising ministers for
petroleum and water and power, State Bank governor, deputy
chairman of the Planning Commission and secretaries of
economic affairs, finance and petroleum to prepare
recommendations within four days so that work on laying the
pipeline could be started by September to meet the
completion deadline of December 2014.

FERTILISER PRICE: The ECC approved a 23 per cent increase
in the price of fertiliser for farmers from Rs1,300 to
Rs1,600 per 50kg bag.

The committee allowed the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and
Services Corporation to offload 450,000 tons of wheat -- of
the 1.28 million tons of stock -- at Rs950 per 40kg to
private parties and millers for which the government will
provide a subsidy of Rs4.5 billion.

The meeting was informed that Iran had offered to purchase
one million tons of wheat under a barter deal in return for
fertiliser and iron ore, but was asking for fresh crop to
be harvested from April 1.

RAILWAY LOAN: The ECC approved a Rs6.1 billion loan from
commercial banks led by the National Bank to the railways
on government guarantee for the repair of 96 locomotives.

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14, March, 2012

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Changes in army’s hierarchy in the offing this year
-----------------------------------------------------------
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By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 13: The military hierarchy will see
reshuffle in a phased manner and before the end of this
year more than half of the formations will have new faces
as their commanders.

The shuffling, described by a military officer as a routine
process, will happen because of the impending retirement of
six three-star generals and a number of others completing
their tenures on command or staff positions.

Corps formations in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan and
Gujranwala are due to get new commanders.

The commander for Karachi Corps has already been named (Lt-
Gen Ejaz Chaudhry) following the incumbent Lt-Gen Zahirul
Islam’s appointment as the director-general of ISI.

Therefore, out of the nine corps formations, five will have
new commanders.

Additionally, though already publicly announced, the
premier spy agency would have a new leader in the shape of
Gen Zahir in place of retiring Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

The strategic planning division is also due for a change of
guard.

With all these changes happening over the summer, it
wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the country is set
to have a new look in the top national security team.

One of the high-profile changes being expected is that of
Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt Gen Waheed Arshad, who may
be posted out as a corps commander.

Gen Arshad, who has been in this position since Oct 2010,
is being tipped as the next Multan corps commander.

Others say he could be given the Gujranwala command, which
according to one insider, under the initial scheme of
things, was to be taken up by Quartermaster General Lt Gen
Sajjad Ghani.
Gen Arshad is in turn likely to be replaced by one of his
deputies, Vice Chief of General Staff (VCGS) Lt Gen Nasir
Janjua.

Gen Janjua was recently promoted as a three-star general
and is awaiting posting, pending which he continues to
serve as VCGS.

The Multan posting is to fall vacant with the retirement of
Lt Gen Shafqaat Ahmed, the former military secretary to ex-
president Gen Pervez Musharraf, in November. Therefore, the
Multan posting would be the last in the reshuffle.

Rawalpindi Corps Commander Lt Gen Khalid Nawaz, who has
previously headed the Quetta Staff College, is being
considered for appointment as president of the National
Defence University. The NDU post will fall vacant with
retirement of Lt Gen Agha Mohammad Umer Farooq in July.

The Rawalpindi Corps is considered to be one of the most
strategically important formations, primarily because its
area of responsibility also includes Jammu and Kashmir.

Inspector General (training and evaluation) Lt Gen Muzamil
Hussain is tipped to head the Rawalpindi Corps once Gen
Nawaz moves out.

Gen Hussain has earlier served as Force Commander Northern
Areas, which, though technically a division subordinate to
the Rawalpindi Corps, is considered an independent corps-
equivalent command.

Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Rashad Mahmood could be
posted out as one of the principal staff officers at the
General Headquarters. Likewise, Adjutant General Lt Gen
Javed Iqbal is due for a command posting.

At strategic planning division, which is   responsible for
the management and administration of the   country’s tactical
and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile,   Lt Gen Khalid
Kidwai is being rumoured to make way for   the retiring
spymaster Gen Pasha.

The generals retiring this year include: Inspector General
Communications and IT Lt Gen Tanvir Tahir (March 15), ISI
director-general Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha (March 18),
deputy chairman of Earthquake Reconstruction and
Rehabilitation Authority Lt Gen Sardar Mehmood Ali (April),
NDU president Lt Gen Agha Mohammad Umer Farooq (July),
Heavy Industries Taxila chairman Lt Gen Ayaz Saleem Rana
(October) and Multan Corps Commander Lt Gen Shafqaat
Mehmood (November).

Air Defence Commander Lt Gen Owais Ghani has already
retired this month.

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14, March, 2012

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US drones kill 14

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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, March 13: US drone aircraft struck twice
in northern and southern parts of Waziristan tribal regions
on Tuesday, killing at least 14 suspected militants,
including two ‘commanders’, security and intelligence
officials said.

In the first strike, a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in
the Birmal area of South Waziristan, killing seven men.

Another seven suspected militants were killed in the second
attack later in the day, when a drone fired missiles at a
vehicle in the Sara Khawra area, which straddles the border
between North Waziristan and South Waziristan.—Reuters

Our Correspondent in Ladha adds: The seven militants killed
in the first attack belonged to the Mullah Nazir group.

Intelligence sources and local people identified four of
the deceased as Hafeez Amir Hamza, Shamsulllah, Wajahat and
Abdullah.

The bodies of three others were mutilated beyond
recognition.
Hafeez Amir Hamza and Shamsullah were important commanders
of the group.

Amir Hamza belonged to the five-member ‘Shura-i-Muraqba’
formed on Dec 31, last year, to sort out differences among
militant groups and stop killing of local tribesmen by
terming them ‘spies’.

Other members of the Shura are Maulvi Saddar Hayat, Maulvi
Saeedullah, Maulvi Noor Sayed and Maulvi Azmatullah.

According to our correspondent in Tank, a woman and her
child were injured when suspected Taliban militants fired
four missiles in Kariwam area. One missile hit a school
where people of Turkistan Battani tribe displaced from
Sararogha area are living.

Another missile hit the house of one Zar Mohammad Battani,
injuring his wife and daughter.

They were taken to a hospital in Jandola. Two missiles
landed in open fields.

Local people blamed Taliban for the attack which they said
was aimed against pro-government tribesmen of the Abdullah
group.

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14, March, 2012

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SC criticises ministry’s failure to act on PSM report

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By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 13: The Supreme Court ordered Industries
Secretary Gul Mohammad Rind on Tuesday to come up with an
explanation why his ministry had failed to take timely
action on a forensic audit report (2008-09) that identified
cumulative losses of Rs26.5 billion suffered by Pakistan
Steel Mills in a single year.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice
Tariq Parvez had taken up a suo motu notice over heavy
losses suffered by the mills. It will resume the hearing on
Thursday.

The secretary admitted that the ministry of industries had
received the forensic audit report about six months ago.

“We are surprised to note that no steps have so far been
taken by the ministry despite the fact that Steel Mills is
not being run properly,” the chief justice observed.

The audit report, submitted by PSM’s counsel Advocate
Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, suggested that the mills had
suffered Rs4.68 billion business losses, Rs9.99 billion
because of corrupt practices and Rs11.84 billion due to
mismanagement and negligence. It suffered a daily loss of
Rs40 million and monthly loss of over Rs1 billion.

The forensic audit was conducted by Messers Avais Hyder
Liaqat Nouman.

Fakhruddin Ebrahim said no case had been registered,
although the FIA had initiated five inquiries into the
issue.

“Prima facie, it has been established that huge losses have
been caused to Pakistan Steel Mills, which is mother
industry of the country, on account of corrupt practices,
business losses and mismanagement,” the court said, adding
that undoubtedly all these three components were
interlinked.

The industries secretary said his ministry was
contemplating referring the matter to the National
Accountability Bureau with a request to look into the cases
earlier registered by the FIA and enquiries pending with
the agency.

“Let the ministry of industries itself take a decision,”
the court said in its order, but asked the secretary to
explain reasons why the ministry had not taken action after
receiving the audit report.
Going through the report which only pertains to the
financial year 2008-09, the court expressed shock that it
was not known how much loss the mills had suffered till
now.

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14, March, 2012

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Pakistan ‘vital’ to Afghan peace

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ISLAMABAD, March 13: The Defence Minister of Germany, Dr
Thomas de Maiziere, said on Tuesday that Pakistan could
play an important and prudent role for the success of the
ongoing talks between the US authorities and the Taliban
for a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

“A durable Afghanistan is in the best interest of all its
neighbouring countries, including Pakistan,” he told
newsmen after signing a memorandum of understanding for
enhancing defence cooperation between Pakistan and Germany
with Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar at the Ministry

of Defence.

He said the Afghan and Pakistani leadership also wanted the
peace talks to succeed.

Responding to a question about resumption of Nato supplies,
Mr Ahmed Mukhtar said a decision in

this regard would be taken by

parliament.

He said that a joint sitting of parliament would be held
soon after the joint session which would be addressed by
President Asif Ali Zardari.
About drone strikes, the minister said these attacks were
not achieving their objectives because more civilians than
terrorists were being killed

in them.

On a question about the attack on Salala posts, he said
German troops were part of Nato forces deployed in
Afghanistan but they were not part

of the group which attacked the Pakistani posts.

Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, members of the German
delegation and senior officials of Pakistan and Germany
were present at the signing ceremony.

The German minister also called on Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani.—APP

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14, March, 2012

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Rise in number of people seeking refuge abroad

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By Zulfiqar Ali

PESHAWAR, March 13: Violence and fears of persecution have
driven thousands of people to seek asylum in other
countries, says a report prepared by the United Nations
High Commission for Refugees.

Besides, about one million people mostly from the
militancy-infested Fata, have left their homes and taken
refuge in other areas.
Displacement is still taking place from Khyber, Kurram and
Orakzai agencies because of terror attacks and military
operations.

The UNHCR said the number of Pakistani refugees who had
taken shelter in other countries stood at 39,982 and of
them 20,017 had sought asylum.

The UN agency grants refugee status to a person who would
face persecution in his home country on account of race,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or
political opinion.

While the host country grants asylum status to people who
are seeking international protection.

Pakistan itself is currently hosting over two million
refugees although it is not a party to the 1951 convention
on 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees.

According to the report, 1,900,621 refugees are residing in
camps across Pakistan. Most of them are Afghans who have
been given Proof of Registration (PoR) cards to validate
their stay in the country till the end of 2012.

The refugee agency said Pakistan had provided asylum to
2,095 people. Similarly, Pakistan is also facing the
problem of IDPs and approximately 952,035 displaced people
who are living in or outside camps while another 1,186,889
have returned to their homes.

Information gathered by this correspondent said that
religious scholars, politicians, journalists, artists and
members of religious minorities have taken refuge on asylum
in different countries.

Well-known Pashto comedian Mir Wais from Tangi area of
Charsadda has taken refuge in Malaysia. He had been
kidnapped by a militant group and stopped from presenting
his shows.

Another popular Pashto actor, Alam Zaib Mujahid, who had
also been kidnapped, has shifted to the United Arab
Emirates.

Two journalists from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
have taken asylum in the United States.
A senior doctor from Fata who was released by kidnappers
after payment of Rs8 million ransom tried to go Australia,
but he did not get a visa. He and his family have now
shifted to Islamabad.

Hindus and Sikhs are mostly migrating to India and
Christians trying to seek shelter in western countries.

Senator Afrasiab Khattak, chairman of the Senate’s standing
committee on human rights, said that insecurity and unrest
in different parts of the country are forcing people to
flee their homes.

He said over 50 Hindu families had left Balochistan because
of incidents of kidnapping while some other people in the
province had left the country because of fear of
persecution and extrajudicial killings.

Likewise, he said people of Hazara community in Quetta,
Shias and those of religious minority groups, including
Ahmedis, were feeling threatened and either leaving from
their native areas or moving abroad.

“People are taking refuge and asylum   because of ethnic and
sectarian violence and kidnapping or   fear of persecution.
The state should take serious notice   of the situation and
provide protection to its citizens,”   Mr Khattak said.

Students who have gone to Europe, Australia and other
developed countries for higher education are also applying
for refugee status or asylum. Australia is a favourite
destination for people from the tribal areas.

According to the Australian High Commission in Islamabad
547 Pakistanis had filed applications seeking protection
visas in 2010-11.

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14, March, 2012

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Pakistani personnel jailed over Haiti abuse
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UNITED NATIONS, March 13: Three Pakistani police in the UN
peacekeeping mission in Haiti were found guilty of sex
abuse and ordered jailed, the UN said on Tuesday.

The three policemen were at the centre of one of two new
sex abuse investigations involving UN police in the
Caribbean nation announced in January. UN spokesman Martin
Nesirky said a court-martial had been held by the Pakistani
military in Haiti and the three had been found guilty,
ordered jailed and repatriated.

“A senior Pakistani official visited Haiti on March 8 and 9
to meet Haitian authorities and informed them that three
individuals were found guilty of sexual exploitation and
abuse through a court martial proceeding undertaken in
accordance with the national laws of Pakistan,” Nesirky
told a press briefing.

The three will be imprisoned and given a dishonourable
discharge on their return to Pakistan, the UN mission in
Haiti, MINUSTAH, was told, according to the spokesman.

Details of the prison term were not immediately known.

“The guilty parties have been repatriated and the United
Nations is further liaising with the Pakistani authorities
to examine the formal details of the procedures and to
ensure a follow-up,” Nesirky added.

The three Pakistani police were based at a UN camp in the
city of Gonaives.—AFP

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14, March, 2012

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Memon enjoying special protocol in PML-N

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By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, March 13: The seemingly tireless Marvi Memon is
having a dream time with her new party, the Pakistan Muslim
League-N. The party supremo, Mian Nawaz Sharif, has issued
standing instructions to the party’s rank and file to
accord her special protocol wherever she goes in the
country. As a result, she is being received by the party
workers in good numbers.

However, there are many in the party, including some top
guns, who are not happy with her entry because of her past
association with the PML-Q.

“If she being a former two-time PML-Q MNA is accepted in
the party, then what is wrong with the Chaudhrys and others
who want to come back to the party,” said a senior PML-N
office-bearer.

Mr Sharif has made the return of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain
and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi conditional upon their public
apology for siding with Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Ms Memon had not made such an apology before joining the
party, said the party official.

Another PML-N member of the National Assembly termed Ms
Memon’s entry into the party a stab in the back which the
party leadership didn’t seem to realise at the moment.

She is being promoted all around as if her presence would
ensure the PML-N a win in the next general election, he
added.

Questioning the party leadership’s decision, first
accepting and then promoting her as new face of the party,
the MNA said her support for Pervez Musharraf cannot be
condoned.

“I am not the only one in the party who is feeling this
way; there are many others who have no option but to hold
their tongue since the party leadership is giving Ms Memon
a special treatment,” said the MNA.

But a senior member of the PML-N justified Ms Memon’s
inclusion in the party, saying that at a time when
everybody was talking about PTI of Imran Khan, there was
nothing wrong with her joining the party.

“At a time when she is being lobbied by Imran Khan himself
to join his party as information secretary, her decision to
side with the PML-N matters a lot for the party,” the
official said.

And people shouldn’t forget that she had joined the PML-N
without any party position promised to her in advance, he
added.

The PML-N leader lavished more praise on Ms Memon. “She is
a fabulous party worker who can travel day in and day out.
And she has already started this.”

With Imran Khan continuously terming the PML-N a spent
force, the party leadership was desperately looking for
somebody like Ms Memon to give it a new look.

“I think this is the only reason she has been straightaway
accepted by the PML-N despite her baggage as a former PML-Q
lawmaker and her affiliation with General Musharraf,” said
the party official.

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14, March, 2012

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Official dies in N. Waziristan jirga attack

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By Our Correspondent

MIRAMSHAH, March 13: A senior tribal agency official was
attacked and killed in his office in Mirali town, a high
security zone area of North Waziristan, on Tuesday.

Witnesses said that before escaping, the attacker also
detonated two hand grenades which left two people injured.
Assistant Political Agent Azmat Jamal was attending a jirga
of Haiderkhel tribe, a sub-clan of Dawar tribe in his
office in a base of paramilitary forces when the assailant
entered the office and opened fire with a pistol and later
lobbed two grenades.

Mr Jamal was taken by helicopter to Bannu, but died before
reaching a hospital. Hailing from Karak district, he was
posted in Mirali one year ago.

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14, March, 2012

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Karachi at high risk from sea level rise

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By Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD, March 13: The mega city of Karachi is at high
risk from rise in sea level, prolonged cyclonic activity
and increasing salt-water intrusion, according to a report
of the Asian Development Bank issued on Tuesday.

The report — “Addressing Climate Change and Migration in
Asia and the Pacific” — says environmental harm due to sea-
level rise in association with storm surge impacts will be
significant in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, where
cyclonic activity is projected to intensify.

The delta areas of the Ganges-Brahmaputra, Godavari, Indus,
Krishna and Mahanadi rivers are likely to flood more often
with increased monsoonal activity.

The hazard of coastal flooding is likely increase
significantly in Bangladesh, in India in West Bengal and
along the coast to Chennai and the coastal strip from
Karachi to Mumbai, warns the report.

The Ganges and Indus rivers have significant salt-water
intrusion and, with decreases in winter flows, the problem
in these systems could become more significant, the report
further warns.

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15, March, 2012

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Funds not a problem for IP pipeline, says Khar

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 14: The government reiterated on Wednesday
its commitment to the gas pipeline project with Iran and
expressed the hope that securing funds for the plan
wouldn’t be a problem.

“There are multiple sources available. This is a fairly
viable project and we hope there will not be any problem in
trying to find ways and means of ensuring its funding,”
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said at a media
conference after holding talks with visiting Swedish
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

Her comments came in the wake of a report (later denied)
that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had
withdrawn from the $1.5 billion project. The bank had won a
bid for financing the 800km pipeline from Iranian border
near the Makran coast to a gas transmission network hub in
Nawabshah.

The foreign minister said the ICBC decision would not
affect the project and the Economic Coordination Committee
had set up a committee to look into the financing issue.

Underscoring the severity of the energy crisis, she said:
“We cannot afford to be selective in pursuing energy
sources and we will continue to do whatever we consider to
be in our national interest.”
Answering questions, the foreign minister said the
parliamentary review of ties with the US would expand
bilateral cooperation.

During the ministers’ meeting, Pakistan and Sweden agreed
to double their trade to $900 million by 2014.

The Swiss foreign minister said his government acknowledged
Pakistan’s critical role for restoring peace in Afghanistan
would continue to support it.

Ms Khar and Mr Bildt condemned the recent massacre of
Afghan civilians by a US soldier.

“We understand that this is an individual act, but it needs
to be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” Ms Khar
said. She called for bringing the perpetrator of the crime
to justice.”

Mr Bildt expressed the hope that the incident would not
affect the war on terror.

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15, March, 2012

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NA’s unanimous call for law to tame agencies

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By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD, March 14: The National Assembly came out
strongly on Wednesday to account for so-called missing
persons and, through a unanimous resolution, called for
enacting a comprehensive law to regulate intelligence and
security agencies often blamed for disappearances and
extra-judicial killings of dissidents.

The move came on the first day of what will be the last
session of the present lower house’s fourth parliamentary
year, which was also marked by the adoption of a key labour
law two days before its existing equivalent was due to
lapse and a government promise to legislate to penalise
obstructing women from voting in elections.

The resolution, which envisages a bi-partisan committee to
make recommendations, was moved by the opposition Pakistan
Muslim League-N and the consent of the Pakistan People’s
Party-led ruling coalition facilitated its introduction
outside the day’s agenda and immediate adoption.

A resolution on the issue, initiated by a retiring Jamaat-
i-Islami lawmaker, was unanimously passed also by the
Senate on March 7 but that draft was confined to expressing
‘deep concern’ over what it called “abductions and forced
disappearances” and asked the federal and provincial
governments to take “immediate and effective steps” for a
speedy recovery and release of victims.

The resolution passed on Wednesday said the National
Assembly was “deeply disturbed over the plight of the
families of persons who have been missing for long
periods”, noting that allegations of “acts of omissions,
complicity and concealment” against state agencies were
tarnishing their image despite their “tremendous sacrifices
in the defence and security of Pakistan.”

It called upon the government to “ensure prevalence of the
rule of law” and demanded implementation of the Supreme
Court’s observations and recommendations of a Commission of
Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances for the “enactment of
necessary legislation to resolve the problems of missing
persons” as well as recommendations of an inquiry
commission on the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad “for
a comprehensive framework law to regulate the role and
functioning of the intelligence and security agencies”.

The resolution authorised the National Assembly speaker to
constitute an eight-member special committee in
consultation with the prime minister and the opposition
leader, with equal representation from both sides of the
house, to “monitor progress in this regard”.

The committee, it said, would submit its recommendations
within two months about additional measures required after
meeting representatives of the families of the missing
persons and victims of terrorism and getting briefings by
the concerned intelligence and security agencies.

Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan congratulated the
house for the unanimous vote on the resolution but said
that it was “a job half done — or quarter done” — towards
reversing what he called a lowly tradition set by former
president Pervez Musharraf by allowing disappearances once
practised under Latin American dictatorships and called for
the implementation of the resolution.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik, apparently talking only
about Balochistan, quoted the chairman of a commission on
missing persons, as putting the present number of missing
people at as low as 47 compared with estimates of 6,000
given by the banned Balochistan Liberation Army, 935 by the
provincial chief minister’s office and 365 as stated before
the Supreme Court.

He promised to give details to the house on Thursday, but
was advised by Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi to better
state the government’s point of view before the
parliamentary committee when it is constituted.

Later, the house hurriedly passed the Industrial Relations
Bill of Senator Raza Rabbani that sought to “consolidate
and rationalise” the law relating to formation of trade
unions and improvement of relations between employers and
workmen in the Islamabad Capital Territory and in trans-
provincial establishments and industry.

The bill was not on the agenda for the day but was taken up
on the demand of PPP chief whip Khursheed Ahmed Shah and
passed immediately after being moved by PPP information
secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira, just two days before the
expiry of a presidential ordinance. It now needs only a
presidential assent to come into force.

Earlier, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Moula
Bakhsh Chandio, responding to a call-attention notice from
five PPP members, told the house that the government
intended to bring a law to penalise the practice of
restraining women from voting in elections as seen in some
parts of the country.

The new law, he said, would empower the Election Commission
to order re-election in a constituency if the number of
polled votes of women were found less than 10 per cent of
their total and refuse election symbols to parties or
candidates found guilty of restraining women from casting
their votes.

“Jiay Bhutto” (long live Bhutto) chants rang out from the
visitors’ galleries before the start of proceedings with
oath-taking by six newly elected lawmakers, including a son
of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ali Musa Gilani. But
the visitors later obeyed the deputy speaker’s order to
refrain from slogan-chanting when he administered the oath
of office to them.

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15, March, 2012

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Nato supply route: Parliament’s decision to be final

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By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD, March 14: Heads of parties in the ruling
coalition and the chiefs of army, air force and the ISI
agreed on Wednesday that a decision about military supplies
to Nato/Isaf forces through Pakistan would be taken by
parliament in its joint session likely to be held on March
19 after the presidential address on March 17.

The high-level meeting held in the Presidency was presided
over by President Asif Ali Zardari. It was also attended by
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“The meeting was briefed on issues relating to security and
foreign policy,” president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar
said.

According to a senior official who did not want to be
named, the meeting decided that the Parliamentary Committee
on National Security would be fully authorised to take a
decision about restoration or otherwise of the supplies for
Isaf forces in Afghanistan. It is learnt that the committee
would recommend to the government to secure ‘better’ terms
for reopening the supply routes. It is expected that the
government will restore the supplies, but after levying
transportation charges on vehicles and goods.

The government suspended the supplies after the Nato attack
on Salala checkpost in November last year in which 24
Pakistani soldiers lost their lives.

A one-to-one meeting on Wednesday between President Zardari
and Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani decided that
relations with the United States would be based on
principles of sovereign equality.

The two meetings were held after the US government had
announced that restoration of NATO supplies would be of
benefit to Pakistan.

The meeting in the Presidency was attended by Chaudhry
Pervaiz Ilahi,

Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Dr Farooq
Sattar, Mir Israrullah Zehri, Munir Khan Orakzai, Engr
Shaukatullah, Finance Minister

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar,
Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman, ISI Director General Lt-
Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas
Jillani and former foreign secretary Salman Bashir.

The parliamentary committee is reported to have prepared a
series of recommendations on Pakistan-US relations and
related issues, including Nato supplies, memo scandal and
the issue of Balochistan and will present them at the joint
sitting of the two houses of parliament.

The committee began its proceedings on December 2 with an
advice from Prime Minister Gilani that ties with the United
States were important for a peaceful settlement of the
Afghan conflict, but needed recalibration in accordance
with strategic interests.


PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS: According to an official announcement
issued on Wednesday, the president summoned a joint session
of the parliament on Saturday (March 17) at 11am.
Farhatullah Babar said the president would address the
joint session to mark the beginning of the new
parliamentary year.

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15, March, 2012

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Pakistani dies in firing by NATO forces

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----

By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, March 14: A Pakistani man was killed in firing by
NATO forces at a village on the Pak-Afghan border in the
Chagai district on Wednesday. They also arrested four
others and took them across the border.

Sources said that five Pakistanis belonging to the Chagai
district were on their way home from Helmand province of
Afghanistan in two vehicles early in the morning when Nato
forces opened fire on them near the border village of Bibi
Jan.

The firing left Saleh Mohammad dead. NATO forces arrested
four Pakistanis who were travelling in the vehicles.

“They took four Pakistanis across the border,” sources
said, adding that both vehicles were damaged in the attack.

The Pakistanis taken into custody were identified as
Mohammad Raza, Syed Khalid Dad, Syed Rahim Noor and
Mohammad Azam. All of them belonged to the Bibi Jan
village.

The sources said it was the forth incident of firing on
Pakistanis in the border area of the Chagai district by
NATO forces over the past one week.

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15, March, 2012

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Supreme Court to also focus on IB’s role in Mehran Bank
scandal

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----

By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 14: The proceedings on Wednesday seemed to
suggest that the Supreme Court could widen the scope of a
case relating to the doling out of money by the ISI to
politicians in the 1990s by focusing its attention on a
news report about involvement in the scandal of the
civilian Intelligence Bureau — a decision that could send
the state on a wild goose chase.

“All intelligence agencies are doing something which does
not come under their mandate, including the IB,” Chief
Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry lamented. He said that
earlier the names of the Military Intelligence and the
Inter-Services Intelligence were being mentioned, but now
the IB had also jumped into the fray.

“They (intelligence agencies) think only they can run the
country and the rest of the people are dreadful,” said
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, a member of the three-judge
bench hearing the 1996 petition of Tehrik-i-Istiqlal chief
Asghar Khan. He had requested the court to look into the
allegations of ISI’s financing of politicians in the 1990
election to limit the victory of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan
People’s Party.

“This is just a tip of the iceberg of what we have
witnessed over the past 60 years and that is why we need
strong action and guidance from the court,” said Salman
Akram Raja, who is representing Asghar Khan.

Reacting to a report in an English newspaper that the PPP
government had withdrawn Rs270 million from IB’s secret
fund allegedly to influence loyalties of the members of the
Punjab assembly in 2009, the court asked Attorney General
Maulvi Anwarul Haq to read out the news item in the open
court.

But before reaching any final decision, the court decided
to summon the publisher, editor and reporter of the
newspaper, along with evidence they claimed to have in
their possession.

The attorney general is also required to seek instructions
from the quarters concerned to ascertain veracity of the
news item.

COMMISSION: Younus Habib, a main character behind the
bribery controversy and former head of the now defunct
Mehran Bank, moved a miscellaneous application requesting
the court to appoint a commission or asked the National
Accountability Bureau to recover the money disbursed to
politicians through the ISI and Yousuf Memon, an advocate.

He said the amount so recovered be adjusted towards the
settlement of liability of the Habib Bank Limited. Against
a loan of Rs1.48 billion taken from the HBL, the settlement
amount reached Rs3 billion. Only Rs1.15 billion was paid
while the rest was settled, he added.

COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT: Younus Habib also filed a counter-
affidavit for which he was scolded for writing directly to
the chief justice instead of following the legal procedure.

“Why are you writing letters to the chief justice; do you
have some kind of association with him?” the chief justice
asked sarcastically.

“In future, you (Mr Habib) should be careful and restrain
from writing such letters,” the court said in its order. Mr
Habib apologised for the mistake and read out a hand-
written statement he had filed in response to the affidavit
of former army chief Gen Aslam Beg.

He said he had submitted the affidavit with sincerity and
honesty to bring the truth on record and there was no
question of scandalising the highest court of the country.
Mr Habib said ever since Asghar Khan had filed the petition
he never met any official of the civil or military
intelligence or political figure of any political party,
except Gen Aslam Beg who spoke to him several times over
the past two years. He said he had no interest in politics
and could never think of maligning any person.

Referring to a picture he had earlier submitted to the
court, Mr Habib said this proved how former president
Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Gen Aslam Beg had pampered him. About
the affidavit of former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad
Durrani, he said he had referred to Brig Hamid Saeed and
Col Akbar as two officers who were introduced to him as ISI
officers. But he requested the court to delete the word ISI
from his earlier affidavit.

About the declassification of earlier statements by Asad
Durrani and former interior minister Maj-Gen (retd)
Naseerullah Khan Babar which were recorded in camera, the
attorney general said many things in these documents had
already been made public.

About reports of a commission on the Mehran Bank and Habib
Bank, he said these could not be retrieved because the
interior secretary was currently on a foreign trip.

The court said that an appropriate order in this regard
would be issued at the next hearing on March 30. It asked
the attorney general to seek instructions whether he would
be representing intelligence agencies or not.

The court asked both Asad Durrani and Younus Habib to
engage a lawyer.

Mr Durrani insisted that the ISI as an institution was
never involved in distributing the money and said there
were elements outside the agency who had been appointed to
carry out the task.

“How could you (Mr Durrani) deny the involvement of the ISI
and the MI; you were holding the caps of both the
organisations,” the chief justice asked.

During the proceedings, Wadood Qureshi, a journalist,
submitted some documents based on a previous press
conference of Nawaz Sharif alleging that President Asif Ali
Zardari, Aftab Sherpao, the late Farooq Khan Leghari and
Anwar Saifullah had taken money from Mehran Bank to
dislodge the government of Sabir Shah in the NWFP.
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15, March, 2012

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SC will go to any extent to protect Constitution: Khilji

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 14: The Supreme Court resolved on
Wednesday to go to any extent and take all possible steps
to protect and uphold the Constitution.

“We are least bothered about what the court will be painted
for this noble cause for which it has no regrets because
the country can only be saved by protecting the
Constitution,” observed Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, a
member of the three-judge bench hearing petitions of PTI
chief Imran Khan and former premier Benazir Bhutto alleging
irregularities in the voters’ list.

The observation came in response to statements made by
certain political parties during a meeting of the Election
Commission. Leaders of 11 of the 14 political parties who
attended the meeting had warned that they would not accept
electoral rolls updated on coercion.

Election Commission’s former secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan
submitted to the court his statement, along with a letter
he had addressed to the prime minister, explaining reasons
for tendering his resignation at a crucial juncture when
the commission was carrying out the gigantic task of
updating the electoral lists.

The documents read out by Mr Khan in the court were
described by the bench as an insult and an attempt to
malign the institution of judiciary.

The court ordered Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to
assist it in reaching a conclusion that whether after
commitments made by the ECP on July 4, 2011, to complete
the process of revising the electoral lists under Article
219 of the Constitution, was there any justification to
postpone the process till May this year even without
seeking a permission from the court.

“Particularly, keeping in view the fact that it was the
stand of the ECP that the process of revising the lists had
commenced from October 2009,” the court said. The attorney
general will provide assistance to the court on April 9.

“I am personally deeply disturbed by the letter,” Justice
Khilji said. He deplored that the court was being accused
of meddling in the affairs of the commission.

In his statement, Ishtiak Ahmed said: “There is no malice
towards any institution, least of all the Supreme Court for
which I have deep respect, but if I feel I need to raise my
voice and write something about issues concerning my
country. I pray to Almighty Allah to continue to grant me
courage to do that and it would be unfortunate if it is
taken in any other spirit.

“We are still subjected to harsh criticism, but we do not
feel threatened or maligned as we objectively welcome such
ideas because there is no room for complacency and a lot
more needs to be done.

“If we start considering ourselves as always right and our
policies and ideas as perfect and close ourselves to
criticism by others that it is a sure recipe for self-
destruction and failure in terms of performance of our
functions.

“Any denial of free expression of thought would not only be
a negation of the fundamental right guaranteed by the
Constitution, it would also lead to suffocation of new
ideas, creative dialogue and free spirit of inquiry. Thus
we all look up to the Supreme Court to safeguard freedom of
thought and expression.”

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15, March, 2012

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Sharifs plan defamation suit against Younus Habib

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----

By Amjad Mahmood

LAHORE, March 14: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif says
his family has decided to take Younus Habib to court for
allegations levelled by him in the Mehran Bank scandal.

Addressing a press conference at his residence on
Wednesday, he said Younus Habib’s allegations of having
paid Rs2.5 million to him and Rs3.5 million to Nawaz Sharif
in the early 1990s were a pack of lies. He said a
defamation suit would be filed and a panel of lawyers had
been formed to prepare the case.

Mr Sharif accused some elements of using Mr Habib to cover
up their own corruption and bluntly told them that the
‘malicious’ campaign would neither deter the PML-N
leadership from exposing their loot nor stop it from
demanding implementation of the court’s NRO verdict.

He said Mr Habib should either present evidence of
telegraphic transfer (TT) of money or face legal action.

He also termed Asif Jamshed, who allegedly received the TT
as stated by Mr Habib in his changed statement, a fraud,
who had embezzled $8 millions from Habib Bank, but the PPP
government posted him as managing director of Punjab Bank
in 1994.

Mr Jamshed fled to New York when the PML-N returned to
power and fired him in 1997.

He said the Supreme Court should take notice of the doling
out of Rs1.43 billion to various politicians by Mr Habib,
recover the money and penalise the beneficiaries.

Responding to a question, the chief minister said his
family had obtained a loan of Rs48 million from Mehran Bank
in 1992 and paid back Rs102.1 million, including the
principal amount and mark-up.

Criticising the role of secret agencies in distribution of
money among politicians, he said the practice affected
promotion of democracy, weakened institutions and the rule
of law.

Mr Sharif said he was personally aware that Rs500 million
had been drawn by the ‘IG of liars’ (apparently alluding to
Interior Minister Rehman Malik) during governor’s rule in
Punjab in 2009. The money, he alleged, had been used
through the IB (Intelligence Bureau) to win loyalties of
MPAs against the PML-N.

He said if the apex court summoned him, he would reveal on
oath the dirty role played by some men from Islamabad in
this respect.

Mr Sharif recalled that it was PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif who
had raised the Mehran Bank issue in the 1990s and led a
convoy of opposition members and journalists to D. G. Khan
for showing the Razi Farm allegedly purchased with the
money illegally taken from the bank.

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15, March, 2012

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Aitzaz dismayed at new SC order

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By Ahmad Hassan

ISLAMABAD, March 14: Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the contempt case, has
expressed dismay over the Supreme Court’s fresh order for
writing a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening graft
cases.

Talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court on
Wednesday, he said the court had given another order
without hearing his arguments in full on behalf of his
client.
He said arguments in the contempt case were yet to be
completed.

Mr Ahsan hinted that he would raise the issue in a reply to
be submitted to the court on March 19.

During hearing of the case related to non-implementation of
the NRO verdict, the Supreme Court had issued an order to
the prime minister through the attorney general to write
the letter to Swiss authorities by March 21.

Mr Ahsan said that although he had not defended President
Asif Ali Zardari’s position while pleading the prime
minister’s case, he enjoyed immunity under the
Constitution.

“The Constitution doesn’t give immunity to Mr Zardari in
person but to the office that he currently holds.”

He said he had not yet argued whether the letter could be
written.

Aitzaz Ahsan lamented that while people like US national
Raymond Davis were released despite being charged with
murdering two Pakistanis, cases of the president were being
sent to Switzerland. He expressed the hope that he would be
able to satisfy the court that the prime minister had not
committed contempt.

Mr Ahsan said he had never used the phrase ‘do or die’ with
reference to writing the letter.

“Both the prime minister and the judges hold equally
respectable constitutional offices.”

The attorney general was not a counsel but prosecutor in
the prime minister’s case, he said.

In reply to a question, he said he paid Rs12.3 million in
taxes last year and withholding tax was not included in the
amount.

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15, March, 2012
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SHO summoned in illegal detention case

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By Waseem Shamsi

SUKKUR, March 14: The District and Sessions Judge of
Ghotki, Irshad Shah, has ordered SHO Aijaz Dharejo to
appear before him on Thursday and explain why he failed to
recover a youth who has been illegally detained by police
for 20 days.

The youth, Rajesh Kumar, is a resident of Loralai
(Balochistan). He married a Muslim after embracing Islam.
His new name is Raza Mohammad.

Human rights activist Anwer Lohar filed an application in
the sessions court, stating that the Ghotki police had
detained Raza Mohammad, who embraced Islam 90 days ago at
the hands of Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq Haqqani in Jamia Mosque
Qandahari in Quetta.

According to sources, Rajesh Kumar had embraced Islam on
the suggestion of Saman Shah, daughter of Mehboob Shah, a
resident of Faisalabad, after they came into contact
through the internet.

Saman Shah left her house, married Raza Mohammad secretly
and was living with him in Ghotki district.

After receiving information about the presence of Saman
Shah in Ghotki, her parents reached there and with the help
of some influential persons they got Raza Mohammad arrested
on a charge of kidnapping and marrying their daughter
against her will.

Leaving the boy in police custody, they took their daughter
with them and kept her at an unknown place.

Sources said the police pressured him to divorce Saman
Shah, but he refused to do so.
The sources said that police had allegedly received a heavy
amount of money from the father of Saman Shah as illegal
gratification.

The Ghotki district and sessions judge appointed Pervez
Channa as raid commissioner. He conducted raids on
different police stations, pickets and residential quarters
of police on Wednesday, but failed to recover the boy.

On the report of the raid commissioner, the judge ordered
the Ghotki SHO to appear before him on Thursday.
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15, March, 2012

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Bomb blast kills five tribal elders

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By Anwarullah Khan



KHAR, March 14: A bomb blast during a meeting of tribal
elders in Mamond tehsil on Wednesday killed five pro-
government elders. The bomb was detonated by a remote-
control.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for
the attack. Its spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told this
correspondent on phone that the elders were attacked
because they had formed a government-backed anti-Taliban
force.

Witnesses said a jirga of tribal elders was in progress in
the Ghatki village of Mamond Tehsil when the bomb exploded,
killing five people on the spot and injuring two others.
Local people said at least 20 tribal elders were present at
the time of the blast.

Those killed in the blast were identified as Sher Agha,
Najeebullah, Faizullah, Said Umar and Saidur Rahman.
People of surrounding areas rushed to the place of the bomb
blast and started rescue work. The two injured were taken
to the agency headquarters hospital in Khar.

They were identified as Gul Munir and Munir Khan.

Gul Munir, 42, told this correspondent at the hospital that
they were sitting outside the hujra after Zuhr prayers at a
nearby mosque and were discussing some issues when the bomb
exploded.

An official of the local administration told Dawn that it
was a terrorist act.

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16, March, 2012

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----

Swiss letter will amount to treason: PM: ‘Prison better
than going to the gallows’

-----------------------------------------------------------
----

By Majeed Gill and Gulzar Baig

BAHAWALPUR/VEHARI, March 15: Maintaining his defiant stance
on the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to
reopen corruption cases also involving President Asif Ali
Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Thursday
he would rather go to prison than write the letter.

In a way, he even toughened his position and deviating from
a prepared speech at the fifth convocation of Islamia
University in Bahawalpur, he asked the audience, mainly
students, if he should write the letter despite the
immunity given to president by the Constitution.

“If I write the letter it will be a violation of the
Constitution, which is treason and carries the death
penalty. If I don’t write, I will be convicted of contempt,
the punishment for which is six months’ imprisonment,” he
said. Some students sitting in front rows supported Mr
Gilani, but several others behind them shouted that he
should write the letter.

Mr Gilani then stated in plain words that it would be
better to face six months’ imprisonment than to be
sentenced to death for treason.

The prime minister is to appear in the Supreme Court on
March 21 and report what he has done to implement its NRO
verdict which requires him to write the letter.

Mr Gilani reiterated his stance at a public meeting he
later addressed in Vehari. He stated categorically that he
would not write the letter. “I am a PM not a peon. They
consider me to be a peon.”

Speaking in Seraiki, he said he could give up politics but
could never betray the PPP.

The prime minister asked the people in the gathering what
they think he should do in this situation. The audience
raised slogans in his support. Mr Gilani said he would
convey peoples’ voice to the authorities concerned. Without
directly naming the judiciary, he said ‘they’ were claming
that democracy had been restored because of them. “They say
that now you should take advice from us and write a letter
to Swiss officials.”

He said the present government would be the first to
complete its five-year term and to present its fifth budget
in parliament. In the same manner, on March 17 President
Zardari will become the first president to address a joint
session of parliament for the fifth consecutive time.

The prime minister said his government did not want to
revive the 1935 system of administrative units introduced
during the colonial days. He said the demand for Bahawalpur
province was aimed at delaying the formation of Seraiki
province. If somebody wanted to meet aspirations of the
people of Bahawalpur he should move a resolution in the
Punjab Assembly but they (the PML-N) would never do that.

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16, March, 2012
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China group is no more a part of gas pipeline plan:
minister

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----

By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, March 15: In a surprising move, Minister for
Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain confirmed
on Thursday that the consortium led by the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China had expressed its inability to
arrange funds for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

However, he said sufficient funds generated through gas
surcharge were available to complete the project from
indigenous resources by the end of 2014.

Oddly enough when this was reported by newspapers,
including Dawn, on Wednesday, his ministry immediately
tried to deny it by issuing a vaguely worded clarification.

However, the very next day the minister conceded in
parliament that the consortium had backed out of the
project.

Mr Hussain informed the National Assembly during question
hour that tender had already been floated for laying
pipeline for the project, clearly indicating that the
project was on track despite tough warnings by the United
States.

He said installation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
terminals would be started after the approval of Economic
Coordination Committee (ECC).

Disclosing that the circular debt of petroleum sector had
soared up to around Rs397 billion, the minister said the
Planning Division was moving a summary for rationalisation
of power tariff and withdrawal of subsidies.

He said non-receipt of payment from the power sector
against supply of oil and gas was the main cause of the
mounting circular debt which was Rs70.58 billion in March
2008. He said the government had constituted a high-level
committee to resolve the issue.

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16, March, 2012

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----

Govt ready to probe Steel Mills affairs, SC told

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----

By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 15: The Supreme Court reserved on Thursday
its judgment on a case relating to corruption in Pakistan
Steel Mills, which had suffered a whopping loss of Rs26.5
billion in 2008-09 alone.

Although a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice
Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and
Justice Tariq Parvez closed the case, Tuesday’s proceedings
seemed to suggest that the court in its final verdict might
refer to the National Accountability Bureau all evidence
and documents relating to malpractices for penalising the
delinquents.

A nine-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry, had in August 2006 reversed the sale of Steel
Mills, saying that the privatisation process had been
carried out in “indecent haste”. It had held that PSM was
the most profit-making industrial concern when it was put
on sale.

The court had also taken suo motu notice on an article in
Dawn on Sept 11, 2009, about the firing of former PSM
chairman Moeen Aftab Sheikh without issuing a show cause
notice. He was fired by the Establishment Division on the
advice of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat because of heavy
losses suffered by the mills.

On Thursday, Industries Secretary Gul Muhammad Rind
informed the court about his meeting, on Wednesday night,
with Industries Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who had
told him that the government would decide about moving
further on the corruption issue after seeking an opinion
from the Federal Investigation Agency.

The court observed that the government was bound to
establish good governance and that based on facts it had
complete report on the massive corruption in the mills.

On Tuesday, the court had ordered the industries secretary
to come up with an explanation why his ministry had failed
to take timely action on a forensic audit report (2008-09)
that identified cumulative losses of Rs26.5 billion
suffered by PSM in a single year.

The order was issued after the secretary admitted the
ministry of industries had received the forensic audit
report about six months ago.

The audit report, submitted by PSM’s counsel Fakhruddin G.
Ebrahim, suggested that the mills had suffered Rs4.68
billion business losses, Rs9.99 billion because of corrupt
practices and Rs11.84 billion due to mismanagement and
negligence. It suffered a daily loss of Rs40 million and
monthly loss of over Rs1 billion.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan, one of the petitioners in the
case, accused the FIA of protecting the interests of “some
people who had benefited from the entire saga”. The NAB
will itself deal with the matter when the case was referred
to it, Justice Khilji observed.

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16, March, 2012

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Haqqani, Ijaz come face to face

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----

By Malik Asad
ISLAMABAD, March 15: Erstwhile phone buddies and currently
legal opponents came face to face on Thursday for the first
time since the infamous memo scandal broke out last year.

American businessman Mansoor Ijaz and Pakistan’s former
ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani, came together
under one roof at the Pakistan High Commission in London to
record their testimonies in front of the judicial
commission via a video link.

The three-member commission directed Mr Haqqani’s counsel,
Zahid Hussain Bukhari, to conclude cross-examination of Mr
Ijaz in four days.

The commission, on more than one occasions, advised the
counsel to raise relevant questions only. It accused Mr
Bukhari of continuously ridiculing the commission.

At one point, the commission said: “Why you are advising us
how to do our job.” At another, the commission remarked
that whenever it tried to correct the counsel, he took
offence.

The commission directed Mr Ijaz to bring copies of his
passport on Friday as Advocate Bukhari claimed that due to
pending litigation he could not travel to the US.

After examining the transcript of a conversation, sent by
Mr Ijaz, between pilots of the helicopters used in the
operation against Osama bin Laden and Pakistani air traffic
controllers, the commission observed that the document was
not authentic. It was not the transcript of the incident
but only unverified information passed on by some unknown
person to another unknown person, commission added.

It expressed dissatisfaction over the reply by Mr Haqqani
to evidence produced by Mr Ijaz and directed him to either
admit or deny each of the BlackBerry messages (BBM) and the
email allegedly sent to him by Mr Ijaz.

Advocate Bukhari raised a number of questions during the
first day of his cross-examination of Mr Ijaz. He asked him
about the profession of his father, his skills to write
articles on nuclear issues, his relations with intelligence
agencies and his role in arranging a meeting between a
Kashmiri leader and an Indian intelligence official.
Mr Ijaz said he had arranged the meeting between Kashmiri
leader Yasin Malik and C.D. Sahay, a former deputy chief
(who later became chief) of the Indian secret service,
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He claimed that he had
once tried to “bring peace to Sudan” to protect the
interests of the Sudanese as well as the United States.

Mr Ijaz said his father was a nuclear physicist who had
left Pakistan in 1966 and permanently settled in the US. He
visited Pakistan during the 1970s as part of his assignment
with the NGO “atom for peace”.

Mr Ijaz said he had written an article on nuclear
proliferation in which he accused Pakistani nuclear
scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan of stealing the nuclear
blueprint on the basis of his confession made during the
Musharraf regime in 2004.

Although he admitted that he had been in contact with 24
intelligence agencies of different countries, he did not
disclose their names.

Mr Ijaz told the commission that Interior Minister Rehman
Malik had threatened to arrest him through the Interpol and
warned that if he tried to visit Pakistan his name would be
placed on the exit control list (ECL).

He also answered the questions of Advocate Bukhari about
his bank loans, litigation and settlements with financial
institutions. The volley of questions not only provoked Mr
Ijaz but also annoyed the commission.

“I am trying to prove that Mr Ijaz is an agent of secret
services and with their help tried to destabilise
governments in different countries,” Mr Bukhari said.

He also threatened to stop cross-examining Mr Ijaz when the
commission did not allow him to ask some irrelevant
questions.

During the cross-examination, Mr Haqqani joined his counsel
at Pakistani High Commission in London. He told the
commission that despite efforts he could not get data of
his phone from the telephone company. Mr Haqqani said he
did not remember the PIN number of his BlackBerry handset
because it was changed when he got another set.
Surprisingly, he got an unexpected support from Mr Ijaz,
who said it was a difficult process to retrieve data and
lost PIN number.

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16, March, 2012

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Swiss couple ‘escape’ from Taliban Captivity

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Dawn Report

MIRAMSHAH/RAWALPINDI, March 15: A Swiss couple kidnapped
from Balochistan in July last year escaped from Taliban
captivity in North Waziristan, officials said on Thursday.

Olivier David Och and Daniela Widmer were brought to
Peshawar by a military helicopter. They were taken to the
Corps Headquarters for questioning. They stayed there for
some time before leaving for Islamabad.

Officials said that the couple had reported to security
forces at the Thall checkpost on Esha-Razmak Road early in
the morning. Sources said they had been left at a place
some 100 metres from the checkpost.

The sources were not in a position to state with certainty
if the couple had really escaped or they had been
‘released’. And if released then on what ground.

The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had
claimed responsibility for their kidnapping from Loralai,
were quiet.

Military officials quoted the Swiss nationals as saying
that they had escaped late in the night and reached the
checkpost in the Spilga area, about 12 km south of
Miramshah.
The couple’s claim and the official version could not be
verified from independent sources who said that back-
channel negotiations had taken place for securing their
release.

According to military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the
couple stated that they had escaped from the kidnappers.

Prof Ajmal Khan, the kidnapped vice-chancellor of
Peshawar’s Islamia College University, indicated in a video
released by his captors on March 7 that the government and
the TTP had reached a deal for release of the Swiss couple.

Prof Khan, who has been in the Taliban captivity for 18
months, said in the video message that the government had
agreed to release 100 imprisoned Taliban in exchange of the
Swiss couple’s release. Besides, he said, millions of
rupees would be paid as ransom.

Having reached Rawalpindi, the couple appeared to be in
good health. They were smiling and waving to photographers
as they walked through the airbase where the helicopter had
landed.

David Och was sporting a beard and wearing Shalwar-Kameez,
white cap and joggers. Daniela Widmer was in a light pink
shirt and black trousers with a scarf around her neck.

After disembarking from the helicopter, they got into a
blue van waiting for them at the Qasim airbase. Swiss
embassy officials and security personnel accompanied them
when they left for Islamabad.

AFP adds: Officials said they were found at a checkpost in
the tribal belt on the Afghan border, but the nature of
their release was clouded in mystery and there were claims
that they escaped.

They were seen by journalists for the first time at the
Qasim airbase in Rawalpindi where they were not permitted
to speak.

Both stepped into a minibus and witnesses later told AFP
they were driven away from the airbase with embassy
officials.
“They are safe and sound,” Major General Athar Abbas told
AFP. “They told us that they escaped and then they reported
to our checkpost. That’s what they told intelligence
agencies currently debriefing them.”

The details surrounding the couple’s recovery were unclear
and senior Taliban commanders could not be reached.

“The Swiss ambassador to Pakistan is in direct contact with
them and was satisfied they were not injured and that their
health, given the circumstances, is good,” the Swiss
foreign ministry said in a statement.

The couple were in a safe place and their return to
Switzerland was planned as soon as possible, it said.

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter thanked the Pakistani
authorities “for their commitment and support in this
matter”, the ministry said.

In October, a video emerged of the couple – apparently in
relatively good health – flanked by four masked gunmen
pointing rifles at their heads.

Wali-ur Rehman, deputy head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan that is linked to Al Qaeda, had claimed the
kidnapping, telling AFP in July that they were in “a very
safe place” and that they were “completely in good health”.

According to visas stamped in their passports, the couple
arrived in Pakistan from India on June 28.

They entered Balochistan from Punjab and may have been
heading for Quetta, possibly en route to Iran, officials in
Islamabad have said.

Their blue Volkswagen van was found abandoned in Loralai
district.

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16, March, 2012

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SP killed, guards injured in suicide attack

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By Ali Hazrat Bacha

PESHAWAR, March 15: Superintendent of Police Abdul Kalam
Khan was killed and his two bodyguards and driver were
injured in a suicide attack at the city’s Pishtakhara chowk
on Thursday.

Peshawar SSP (operations) Tahir Ayub told reporters that SP
Khan was going to office when his vehicle was attacked.

Officials confirmed that it was a suicide attack and the
bomber’s head had been found at the place. He came there on
foot and blew himself up when the vehicle slowed down near
a speedbreaker.

Bomb disposal personnel said six to seven kgs of explosives
combined with ball-bearings had been used in the suicide
vest. The blast also destroyed several other vehicles.

The injured constables and driver Liaquat, Hidayat and
Zeeshan, were taken to the Khyber and Lady Reading
hospitals and their condition was said to be serious.

Eyewitness Abdul Ghaffar said he was waiting for a bus when
the blast took place. “I could not see the bomber because
it is a busy road and after the blast dust and smoke
enveloped the area.”

The slain SP belonged to Kumber village of Lower Dir and
worked in several militancy-hit areas, including Swat,
Buner and Upper Dir.

Because of his stand against militancy, he was posted two
years ago in areas linking Khyber Agency with Darra
Adamkhel and escaped several attacks on his life.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar
Hussain said SP Khan had been attacked because of the
operations he carried out in Peshawar’s suburb.
He said local Taliban were infuriated for having been
ignored in US-Taliban negotiations in Qatar. They want
attention and to be treated as one of stakeholders.

He said Commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad had been sacked by
Taliban because he supported negotiations with the United
States.

Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour said militants were
attacking senior security officials because of operations
against them in tribal areas.

When asked if police had failed to protect Peshawar despite
hundreds of checkpoints set up in the city, he said that if
the militants could attack the GHQ they could go anywhere
in the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar, Chief Minister
Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour,
Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, IGP Akbar Khan
Hoti and CCPO Syed Imtiaz Altaf attended the SP’s funeral
in the Police Lines.


The body was flown to his village in Dir for burial.

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16, March, 2012

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Documents on immunity stolen from house of SC official

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By Munawer Azeem



ISLAMABAD, March 15: In a rather strange incident,
‘thieves’ broke into the house of a Supreme Court official
and took away the thesis on presidential immunity he was
working on.
Talking to Dawn, Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain
identified the official as Yousuf Jan Marwat, a judicial
assistant in the Record Branch of the Supreme Court, who is
writing a thesis on the immunity issue.

The registrar said he believed that the thesis was missing.

It is not clear whether Mr Marwat is doing research on the
president’s immunity on his own or on the instructions of
someone else.

According to the Ramna police, Mr Marwat told them on
Wednesday night that when he returned home from his native
Lakki Marwat town after four days of leave he found the
lock of the main door broken.

He initially said some valuables were stolen but later
changed his statement, saying that nothing was missing.

Police said Mr Marwat did not get an FIR registered.
However, the police entered the incident in the daily
diary.

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16, March, 2012

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‘Highhandedness’ by lawyers forces judges to seek transfer

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By Wajih Ahmad Sheikh

LAHORE, March 15: In what appears to be a desperate move to
avoid bullying by lawyers, the city’s 24 additional
district and sessions judges requested the Lahore High
Court on Thursday to transfer them somewhere else in the
province because ‘they had lost their patience to further
tolerate the lawyers’ highhandedness’.

The judges, two of them women, have sent a joint
representation to Lahore High Court Registrar Sohail Nasir
through District and Sessions Judge Mujahid Mustaqeem
Ahmad.

They accused some lawyers of having formed groups to obtain
undue favour in cases.

“They (lawyers) come in groups to obtain decisions in their
favour by hook or by crook, including by use of physical
force,” the aggrieved judges said.

“It has become impossible for us to decide cases on merit
and whenever a case is decided against the said groups of
lawyers, they come in the court to assault. They often
tried to take judicial file into their possession to tear
the judicial order having been passed on merit.”

They said all of them had experienced such incidents and
they were ready to come up with details in personal
hearings.

At the end the representation, the judges said they would
be unable to work in Lahore district and requested that
they be transferred to other suitable stations.

At present, 29 AD&SJs are posted in the district and the 24
who sent the representation include Chaudhry Nazir Ahmad,
Khizar Hayat Sial, Mohammad Qasim, Mohammad Saeedullah
Mughal, Mohammad Shiraz Kayani, Azizullah, Tariq Mehmood
Zargham, Pervez Iqbal Sipra, Chaudhry Munir Ahmad, Mahrukh
Aziz, Abdul Sattar Langa, Mohammad Javed Hassan Chishti,
Naveed Ahmad, Abual Hasnat, Mohammad Zulqarnain, Shahida
Saeed, Aurangzeb, M. Ijaz Butt, Hamid Hussain, Anjum Raza
Syed, Rana Zahid Iqbal, Mohammad Tahir Khan Niazi, Mohammad
Nadeem Shaukat, Mohammad Arif Hameed Sheikh and Mohammad
Ramzan.

Taking notice of the move, Sessions Judge Mujahid Mustaqeem
summoned the aggrieved judges in his office and discussed
the matter with them.

An insider told Dawn that the judge advised them to
continue their work and assured them to forward their
representation to the LHC registrar.

Lahore Bar Association President Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali
expressed his ignorance about the application filed by the
judges.
He, however, said it was not good to blame the entire
community for wrongdoings of some individuals.

LHC Registrar Sohail Nasir could not be reached despite
repeated calls made to his cellphone. He was in Multan for
two-day working of Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed there
on March 15 to 16.

Recently, the lawyers of District Bar Association had
launched a move against D&SJ Zawar Ahmad Sheikh and accused
him of insulting lawyers in his court. But for the first
time, judges of the district judiciary rallied in protest
against the lawyers’ behaviour. However, the lawyers
succeeded and the judge was transferred.

It is difficult to cite an instance where elected leaders
of the bar have taken action against a lawyer involved in
such activities. Political compulsions do not allow them to
punish even bar member guilty of wrongdoing.

Last week some lawyers assaulted a civil judge at Aiwan-i-
Adl for not adjourning a case pending before his court.

The lawyers forced the judge to leave his court. The bar
took notice of the incident and ‘sorted out’ the issue
between the judge and the lawyers.

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16, March, 2012

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Rulers put on opposition colours in National Assembly

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By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD, March 15: Rulers seemed to put on opposition
colours in the National Assembly on a dramatic day on
Thursday, which was marked by an ominous walkout by a key
government partner, and much more.
In other developments on the second day of the present
lower house’s last session of its fourth parliamentary
year, a senior government minister complained of
bureaucratic arrogance, several ruling coalition lawmakers
alleged forcible conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh
province, and a former minister asked why he was in jail
for full one year without any proof of guilt.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) stormed out of the house
protesting against what it called rampant extortions, or
‘bhatta-khori”, from business community in Karachi -- a
charge the party itself has often faced and denied for
years --- with a threat it could boycott President Asif Ali
Zardari’s address to a joint sitting of parliament on
Saturday if the government did not take “immediate notice”
of the situation.

There was no immediate government response while lawmakers
of the Karachi-based party did not return to the house they
left in the early part of the sitting although Deputy
Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, who chaired the proceedings,
had asked some ministers of the ruling Pakistan People’s
Party (PPP) to bring the protesters back.

MQM deputy parliamentary leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, who led
the walkout amid chants of “bhatta-khori bund karo” (stop
extortion) and “bachao, bachao, Karachi bachao” (save
Karachi), later told reporters outside the house his party
would continue walkouts on a daily basis “until we are
heard” and that “for this we can go to any extent, whether
we have to boycott the joint sitting”.

Friday, when the house is due to meet at 10am, is likely to
be the last working day of the present National Assembly’s
fourth parliamentary year while the president’s address to
the joint sitting of both houses of parliament on Saturday
will mark the beginning of the fifth and last parliamentary
year of the present government.

In his pre-walkout speech to the house, Mr Rizvi, whose
party is part of PPP-led governments both at the centre and
in Sindh though it left the coalition twice, did not
specify any party or group responsible for “bhatta-khori”,
which he said was so widespread in Karachi’s markets and
industrial areas that it was almost impossible to do
business in the country’s commercial capital.
“If immediate notice of the Karachi situation is not taken,
then perhaps we will consider not sitting in the joint
session (of parliament) day after tomorrow,” he said.

He cited Karachi’s business centres like Shershah junk
market, marble market, Jodia Bazaar and timber market as
some of the worst victims of extortionists who, he said,
would even throw grenades at those who defied their demands
for protection money.

“If immediate cognizance of the situation is not taken,
then business in Karachi will become almost impossible,” he
said.

PPP chief whip Khursheed Ahmed Shah, who is also the
minister for religious affairs, surprised the house when he
said the chairman of Islamabad’s Capital Development
Authority (CDA) had failed to come to him and instead sent
a junior officer to brief him about the condition of roads
in the capital, and proposed that the house pass a
resolution requiring senior officials to attend to
parliamentary business concerning their departments.

Deputy Speaker Kundi referred what he called an alarming
matter to the house privileges committee for a report by
Friday “or a day later” and told the minister about the
official: “You should have suspended him and then he would
have known (what it means).”

Before the chair’s action, an outspoken member of the
opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Hanif Abbasi
from Rawalpindi, instead accused the PPP minister of
breaching privileges of the house by not taking action
against the official and said if the opposition members
were given authority for just three days “you will see
secretaries coming to you walking”.

But Mr Shah, who had voiced his complaint while responding
to a call-attention notice from five members about alleged
CDA negligence to repair the capital’s roads and streets,
dismissed the PML-N member’s challenge as a vain talk for
point-scoring and said he had raised the matter as a
question of “sanctity of parliament”.

PPP information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira reminded the
opposition member of the situation of the PML-N rule in the
Punjab province where, he said, even police station house
officers or slightly higher deputy superintendents of
police cared little about the privileges of the provincial
legislature.

Former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, who
has been coming to the assembly for months in a police
armoured car on a special production order of the speaker,
made a passionate speech to mark the completion of one year
of his detention for alleged involvement in what is known
as “Haj scam” of 2010, and asked why he was being kept in
jail and not allowed even release on bail when “there is
not a piece of paper as proof” against him.

“If this can happen to a parliamentarian, then what can
happen to a common man?” he said about his continued
judicial custody after he had resigned as minister to face
charges --- that he denies --- of wrongdoing in arranging
accommodation for Pakistani Haj pilgrims to Makkah in 2010.

After PPP’s Hindu lawmaker Lal Chand from Sindhi complained
of abduction and forcible conversion of Hindu girls in his
home province of Sindh, nine other members, mostly from the
PPP, supported his call for action to protect of non-Muslim
minorities from such practices.

Most forceful condemnation of alleged conversions came from
Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, a sister of President Zardari, and
Ms Nafisa Shah, a daughter of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali
Shah, but saw one of their own party’s lawmaker and a
religious figure of Ghotki district of Sindh, Abdul Haq
Mian Mitha, admitting his role in what he called 15 to 20
conversions this month.

Dr Pechuho blamed an unspecified “certain section in the
garb of religion” for forced conversions for which she said
Hindu girls were being kept in madressahs for
indoctrination.

She said Islam allowed attracting non-Muslims to its fold
through one’s attitude rather than force and asked: “How
would we feel if our girls run away with Hindus?”

Nafisa Shah said she had found, during a visit to Ghotki, a
sense of insecurity in the local Hindu community because of
what she called conversions being made of hundreds of girls
and called for the state to be “neutral” rather than
supportive of such practices.
But Mian Mitha said opposition to conversions by PPP
members would harm their party’s image in the masses and
told the house he agreed to a recent conversion of Hindu
girl after finding no objection from some elders of the
Hindu panchayat of the area.

“Fifteen to 20 (Hindus) came to us this month to become
Muslim,” he said, and asked: “Is it a sin to help anybody
embrace Islam?”

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17, March, 2012

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Zardari’s record fifth address to joint session today

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By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD, March 16: The stage was set for President Asif
Zardari to become the first head of state to deliver a
record fifth address to a joint sitting of the National
Assembly and Senate on Saturday after the Presidency
successfully persuaded the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to step
back from its threat to disrupt the session.

The People’s Party has built up the occasion as a
democratic landmark in the country’s chequered history.

The one-day joint sitting will meet a constitutional
obligation for a presidential address at the start of a new
parliamentary year while another joint sitting is expected
to be convened next week to review strategic relationship
with the United States in light of recommendations of a
parliamentary committee on national security.

But the MQM, which is a part of the PPP-led coalition
governments at the centre and Sindh, came out with a threat
earlier on Friday -- the last day of National Assembly’s
fourth parliamentary year -- that it would not allow the
event to pass off smoothly as it protested for the second
day over widely complained menace of “bhatta-khori”, or
extortion, in Karachi.

The MQM shouted the National Assembly to a standstill and
threatened to disrupt the president’s address, apparently
risking its place in the coalition government.

The party lawmakers had staged only a walkout from the
house on Thursday, but on Friday they stayed inside the
house and their loud shouting for about 50 minutes
disrupted the entire proceedings after the question hour.

The tumult ended only after the National Assembly session,
which began on Wednesday, was prorogued.     And one MQM
member, Wasim Akhtar, who led the day’s protest, delivered
a menacing threat: “If notice (of our complaint) is not
taken, we will not allow tomorrow’s address. We will
protest.”

That was a departure from the party’s previous threat that
it could consider only boycotting the joint sitting.

Nineteen or 20 MQM members present, out of a total of 25,
continued shouting slogans like “Bhatta-khori bund karo”
(stop extortion) and “Sindh government hae hae” (down with
Sindh government) and did not seem impressed by a proposal
from the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) – to which the
PPP agreed -- to form a bipartisan house committee for
investigating the situation in Karachi and pinpoint
responsibility for action.

Opposition protests during presidential addresses to
parliament have not been uncommon, but speeches had gone on
in the face of loud or rowdy protests against then
presidents Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Farooq Leghari in the
1990s and against president Pervez Musharraf in 2004.

But it is the first time in the country’s parliamentary
history that a party had threatened such a course against
its own government, raising speculations that the move
could jeopardise MQM’s position in the coalition.

It has already quit, and then rejoined, twice over the past
two years after differences over other matters.

The PPP refrained from reacting to the move on Thursday.
And on Friday its spokesmen, including chief whip and
Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Ahmed Shah, said they
agreed with the MQM’s concerns and wanted to negotiate a
“roadmap” to tackle the issue.

But a member of the Awami National Party, another
government ally, alleged that the Muttahida’s outbursts
were aimed at undermining his party’s efforts to increase
space for itself in Karachi. The legislator drew thunderous
applause when he said every Pakistani had a right to live
and earn livelihood in Karachi.

It was a PML-N member from Punjab, Rohail Asghar, who first
proposed a house committee to study the situation in
Karachi while the party’s most senior member present in the
sitting, Sardar Mehtab Khan, endorsed the call and called
for de-weaponising Karachi and what he called an “operation
at the administrative level” to deal with the menace that
he said had made Karachi its hostage for years.

Mr Khursheed Shah agreed, saying his party too wanted de-
weaponisation, exemplary punishment for “bhatta-khors”
(extortionists) and formation of an inquiry committee.

Sheikh Waqas Akram, a minister of state from the Pakistan
Muslim League-Q, urged the MQM to identify those
responsible for extortion and suggested that some young
parliamentarians, instead of the old ones susceptible to
expediencies, be included in the proposed committee.

But persistent shouting did not permit any conclusion to be
reached. Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi read out the
presidential order proroguing the house.

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17, March, 2012

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Muttahida legislators to attend session

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Dawn Report
ISLAMABAD / KARACHI, March 16: Taking notice of reports
about extortion menacing the business community in Karachi,
President Asif Ali Zardari asked Interior Minister Rehman
Malik on Friday to take measures against the scourge in
coordination with the Sindh government.

The reports assumed seriousness when the MQM announced that
its legislators would boycott a joint sitting of the two
houses of parliament to be addressed by the president on
Saturday.

The president sought a detailed report on the issue of
increasing incidents of extortion in the city that was
forcefully raised in the National Assembly by Muttahida
Qaumi Movement’s legislators who also staged a walkout.

President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said he had taken
serious notice of complaints of extortion and poor law and
order situation in Karachi.

He said the president had asked the interior minister to go
to Karachi and act in coordination with the provincial
government to redress the grievances of people,
particularly of traders.

The spokesman said MQM chief Altaf Hussain had also brought
to the president’s attention complaints of extortion in
Karachi.

The PPP respected its coalition partners and would redress
the concerns of the MQM, he quoted the president as saying.

Talking to Dawn, MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said
President Zardari had called Mr Altaf and assured him of
action.

“We have come to know that action has been started in
Karachi and some arrests have been made after the
president’s assurances.

“That’s why we will attend the joint sitting of both houses
of parliament,” he said referring to the president address
scheduled for Saturday.

He said a call for a strike in Karachi had been given by
traders.
Earlier, the MQM had announced after a meeting of its
coordination committee held simultaneously in Karachi and
London that its parliamentarians would boycott the
president’s address in protest against what it termed the
government’s inaction against “extortion mafia” in Karachi.

The MQM had also been protesting in the Sindh Assembly
against increasing incidents of extortion from the business
community and kidnappings for ransom.

The party having 25 members in the lower house of
parliament and seven senators is a coalition partner of the
PPP governments at the centre and in Sindh.

The meeting also decided to observe a protest day in the
province against what it described as partisan and
autocratic attitude of provincial lawmakers of the Pakistan
People’s Party.

It said no action had been taken by the federal and
provincial governments against the extortion mafia despite
MQM’s peaceful protests in the assemblies.

“Only non-serious statements were made and President
Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have not
intervened in this regard,” a statement issued after the
meeting said.

The MQM also decided to continue its peaceful protests at
every forum as long as practical steps were not taken to
crush the extortion mafia in the city.

The meeting assured the business community of Karachi that
the MQM would not abandon them and would support them in
every possible manner to protect their rights.

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17, March, 2012

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SC wants man picked up last week produced in court on
Monday
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By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 16: The Supreme Court ordered the capital
police chief on Friday to recover and produce before it a
man who had been picked up in broad daylight last week in
the presence of his family.

His counsel informed the court that the only crime of 24-
year-old Omar Mahmood Wali was that he was supplying food
to demonstrators demanding recovery of missing persons in
Islamabad’s Parade Ground.

A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammad Chaudhry and Justice Tariq Parvez, which had taken
up a case of seven of the 11 surviving Adiyala jail
prisoners, directed Islamabad IG Bani Ameen Khan to take
all necessary steps to recover and produce the man before
the court on Monday.

During the proceedings when Raja Mohammad Irshad, the
counsel for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the
Military Intelligence (MI), said that heinous and venomous
allegations were being levelled against the agencies these
days, the chief justice observed that everybody had respect
for intelligence agencies because they were rendering great
sacrifices for the nation.

“But people certainly have feelings when some members of
the agencies were detracted,” the chief justice said.

Advocate Tariq Asad pleaded the case of Mahmood Ahmad Khan,
the father of Omar, who said the whereabouts of his son
were still not known.

The court recalled that directions had already been given
to its registrar to ask the IG to submit a report on the
abduction by March 17, while a notice had also been issued
to Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq.

Mahmood Khan told Dawn that Omar had been picked up in his
presence from his residence in Orchard Farm, Margalla Town.

In his application submitted to the apex court, Mr Mahmood
said he, along with his wife and two sons, had left their
house at about 5.45pm on March 10. They were heading
towards Islamabad when on the service road in the direction
of Rawal Chowk their car was intercepted by some people who
were in vehicles, including a black Corolla with a
government number plate. They forcibly took away Omar.

ADIYALA PRISONERS: Additional Advocate General of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa Asadullah Chamkani submitted a report compiled
by Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir on the health condition
of seven surviving detainees.

The report suggested that Dr Niaz, Syed Abdul Majid and
Abdul Basit required further medical treatment and needed
to stay at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital for another
week.

The court ordered the KP chief secretary to provide medical
facilities and arrange fortnight visits by the board set up
under the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation 2011.
If needed, the board members might be accompanied by
doctors, it said.

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17, March, 2012

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Balochistan govt to withdraw 28 cases against Brahamdagh

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By Saleem Shahid

QUETTA, March 16: The Balochistan government has decided to
withdraw 28 cases registered in Dera Bugti district against
Baloch Republican Party chief Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik had announced last month
that all cases against Mr Bugti, Nawabzada Hyarbyar Marri
and other self-exiled Baloch leaders would be withdrawn.

After the announcement, sources said, Provincial Home
Secretary Naseebullah Bazai directed divisional
commissioners and the Balochistan IGP to collect details of
cases against the leaders in their respective divisions.

“Twenty-eight cases of different nature will be withdrawn
in the first phase,” the sources told Dawn, adding that the
cases were registered in the district of Dera Bugti in
connection with attacks on national installations, gas
pipelines and security forces.

The sources said that details of cases against Mr Bugti, Mr
Marri, Javed Mengal and other Baloch leaders had also been
sought from other districts.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has decided to form a
committee to review the cases.

The committee will comprise provincial ministers, home
secretary, law secretary and other officials concerned.

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17, March, 2012

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Haqqani’s counsel criticises judge’s attitude: Bitter
exchanges mar proceedings

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By Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD, March 16: Friday turned out to be a day of
bitter exchanges and allegations and counter-allegations as
the judicial commission continued the cross-examination of
Mansoor Ijaz, the American businessman at the centre of the
memo case.

Mr Ijaz repeated his old allegations and levelled new ones
about his interaction with former ambassador to the United
States Husain Haqqani, and the latter’s lawyer Zahid
Hussain Bokhari at one stage stormed out, protesting that
he was not being allowed to freely carry out the cross-
examination.
Mr Ijaz claimed that Mr Haqqani had told Gen James L.
Jones, the then national security adviser of the US, in
July 2009 that President Asif Ali Zardari had assigned him
the responsibility as national security adviser of Pakistan
in additional to his ambassadorship.

He also claimed that Mr Haqqani had on May 9 in 16-minute
conversation dictated the memorandum in which he had
covered all the important aspects, including elimination of
‘section S’ of ISI, the political situation in Pakistan,
conduct of the army, formulation of security council,
inquiry into the May 2 incident, the episode of 1971 and
the Afghanistan issue, but his claim was denied by the
other side.

The counsel for the former ambassador announced after a
break in the proceedings that he was quitting in protest
against unfavourable attitude of the commission’s chairman.

However, he reversed his decision when the commission
decided to continue the cross-examination even in the
absence of Mr Haqqani and his counsel.

Advocate Bokhari said he had certain reservations on the
constitution of the commission but had joined the
proceedings with high hopes.

He alleged that the commission was not properly
facilitating him and interrupting his questions.

“When a judge is not comfortable with a lawyer then it
becomes difficult for that lawyer to continue his job,” he
said.

He alleged that the commission was repeating the replies
but always stopped him whenever he tried to dig out the
truth.

“I am withdrawing my power of attorney and the commission
may forgive me for my incapability,” he added.

Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who
heads the three-member commission, said that under Rule 4
of Clause 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), a counsel
could not quit unless the court permitted him to do so. “I
am in a chair that acquires respect,” he said.
Her said it was not a court but a fact-finding inquiry and
the commission had given complete latitude to the counsel,
he said.

On Thursday, the commission was ready to continue till 10pm
Pakistan time and the counsel other than Advocate Bokhari
had also agreed to sit till late hours, but he insisted on
concluding the proceedings for the day, the judge said.

Justice Isa said Mr Haqqani had filed an incomplete reply
and “we directed him to file a comprehensive reply to the
accusation in his interest”.

He said Advocate Bokhari had raised a large number of
irrelevant questions and attacked the character of Mr Ijaz.

“If you are not willing to cross-examine Mr Ijaz, your
associates can also argue and then we can ask Mr Haqqani to
cross-examine the witness,” he told the counsel.

“It is our duty to conduct cross-examination to find out
the truth.”

Justice Isa said if anybody felt hurt, “I am the first to
apologise but the proceedings cannot be adjourned at this
point”.

Mr Ijaz accused Mr Haqqani’s lawyer of character
assassination and said that instead of cross-examining him
about the memorandum, Advocate Bokhari had raised questions
regarding his past and articles written by him.

He said that although he had not received any written
instructions from Mr Haqqani for drafting the memorandum,
its contents had been dictated to him by phone.

Mr Haqqani told the commission that he had persuaded his
counsel to continue to argue and he had the highest regard
for the commission.

Replying to a question asked by Advocate Bokhari, Mr Ijaz
said Mr Haqqani in his BlackBerry messages had agreed to
various facts contained in his articles and once when he
said “the ISI men would chase us”, the former ambassador
had replied that “they are in fact brainless… and only
tigers at home”.
The lawyer put several questions to Mr Ijaz about
BlackBerry messages, emails, his interviews to foreign
media and telephonic conversation with Mr Haqqani.

He also played a recording of an interaction of Mr Ijaz
with Fox News from the Pakistani High Commission in London
regarding the Abbottabad operation in which the businessman
criticised the security establishment of Pakistan.

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17, March, 2012

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Gilani says he is not afraid of anyone

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Dawn Report

LAHORE/MULTAN, March 16: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
maintained the tempo of what has been described as a sort
of political offensive and declared on Friday that he was
not afraid of ‘anyone’ because “I am in politics”.

And as if to elaborate what he meant he used an Urdu
proverb to shed light on the problems he is facing. Roughly
translated the proverb says that someone dealing in coal
gets his hands blackened.

The prime minister who was talking to reporters at the
Kinnaird College in Lahore where he attended its 75th
convocation said his government would try to give relief to
people in its fifth budget. He added that he had asked the
finance ministry to create 100,000 jobs for educated youth.

The prime minister said his was the first democratically
elected government to complete four tough years. And the
president would make a policy statement in his fifth annual
address to a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament,
another first in the country’s history.
The prime minister said there had been no political
prisoner in the country during his term.

He said the media was free and would be given more freedom
because through criticism “it washes our sins and take us
to new heights”.

He announced a grant of Rs60 million for the college to be
used for the construction of an information technology
block, research, endowment fund and purchase of vehicles.

Later talking to reporters in Multan, the prime minister
said the political situation was stable and efforts were
being made to strengthen the system, democracy and
parliament.

“We want supremacy of parliament, protection of
institutions and independence for media.”

He said the government had restored the Constitution in its
original shape. “There will be no possibility of a conflict
if all institutions follow the constitutional procedure
within their limits,” he added.

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17, March, 2012

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Kharif sowing may be delayed for 15-20 days

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 16: The Indus River System Authority said
on Friday that the coming Kharif sowing could be delayed
for 15 to 20 days because of lower water flows in rivers
and an unpredictable data about water availability. The
Kharif sowing usually begin on April 1
In view of unreliable weather conditions and uncertain
water availability, a technical committee of Irsa which met
on Fiday could not take a decision. It will meet again on
March 26 to decide about water projections and shortages on
the basis of hydrological conditions prevailing on March
20.

The committee decided that as temperatures in catchments
were not predictable, anticipated water flows in rivers
could not be finalised.

Irsa Chairman Syed Mazhar Ali Shah told journalists after
the meeting that wide variations in river flows were
creating problems in accurately forecasting water situation
and it would be problematic for summer crops. Therefore, he
said, it was agreed that finalising water availability
projections at this stage would not be realistic unless an
actual data was available.

He said if river flows did not improve by March 25, the
Kharif sowing would be considered for a delay of 15-20
days.

He said that assessment of higher availability of water at
this stage would be harmful for crops at a later stage, if
water flows turned out to be lower than projections.
Likewise, he said, “if we project higher water shortage
that improves later then farmers may tend to lower sowing.
Therefore, we have to be very careful in projecting water
availability which is as accurate as possible”.

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17, March, 2012

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Eight injured in bomb blast

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By Our Correspondent
PARACHINAR, March 16: A roadside bomb ripped through a
Peshawar-bound bus coming from Parachinar on Friday,
injuring eight passengers.

The remote-controlled device hit the bus in Charkhel area
of the Lower Kurram on the Thall-Parachinar highway.
Security forces cordoned off the area after the attack and
took the injured, women and children among them, to the
Combined Military Hospital in Thall.

This was the second such attack during the week. On Monday,
a Parachinar-bound bus coming from Peshawar was attacked in
the Lower Kurram area in which two people died and 20
others suffered injuries.

The Thall-Parachinar highway, which remained closed for
four years, was reopened in November after the
implementation of a peace deal in the area. The surge in
attacks on vehicles on the road is indicative of the
challenges facing the peace deal as well as the growing
insecurity in the region.

Condemning these attacks, the elders of the area said that
‘miscreants’ were trying to sabotage the peace process and
called upon the government to ensure security on the main
road.

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17, March, 2012

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Pakistan team barred from meeting Kasab

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MUMBAI, March 16: An Indian official says a court has
barred a Pakistani delegation from interviewing the man
convicted of the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai and any of
the witnesses in his trial.
The delegation came to India to gather evidence for use in
the prosecution of seven militants on trial in Pakistan
over the attack that killed 166 people.

A court official said an Indian judge told the delegation
on Friday it would not be allowed to talk to lone surviving
gunman Ajmal Kasab or any other witnesses.

The group interviewed the magistrate who recorded Kasab’s
confession.—AP

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17, March, 2012

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Parliament to debate ties with US on Monday

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By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 16: Parliament will begin a debate on new
terms of engagement with the United States on Monday.

“This particular subject (US ties) will be considered by
parliament starting from 19th of this month,” Foreign
Office spokesman Abdul Basit said at his weekly briefing on
Friday.

The joint session is expected to continue for about three
days before voting on proposals about ties.

Several dates for the discussion by a joint sitting of
parliament have been speculated since a Parliamentary
Committee on National Security (PCNS) completed its
deliberations for formulating new terms for engagement
weeks ago, but the matter kept on getting delayed for
inexplicable reasons.

Sources say persistent differences over key issues in the
relationship prevented the government from convening the
joint session of parliament for discussing and voting on
the proposed framework for the complicated partnership
which has lately been on a steep downward trajectory,
particularly since the Nov 26 Salala border attack.

PCNS recommendations give broad outline of its vision of
what has been described as ‘vital relationship’ with
Washington, but left some issues vague, like drone attacks,
resumption of Nato supply and red-lines the US is expected
to observe.

These issues were later separately discussed by the
civilian and military leadership over the past month and a
half and the process culminated with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani and ISI DG briefing the government’s
coalition partners earlier this week about what had been
agreed to be tabled in the joint sitting and chalking out a
strategy for those proposals to sail smoothly through
parliament.

Other national security leaders were later updated on the
process at a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Committee, the highest defence forum, on Thursday.

Even though details of the package are being kept a
tightly-guarded secret, officials say the package will
chiefly reaffirm the intention of Islamabad to have good
relations with Washington based on mutual interests and
pave the way for reopening of Nato supply route, albeit
with a higher financial cost.

A compromise language on drone attacks is also anticipated
to be included in the resolution. Other proposals call for
strengthening of relations with Moscow and Beijing.

Pakistani leaders are excited about the parliamentary
process on the issue.

Mr Basit echoed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar when he said: “This is
the first time in our history that the executive has asked
parliament to give guidelines on a foreign policy matter
and this is very significant and a big step in
strengthening our democratic institutions.”

Prime Minister Gilani had said last weekend that once
completed, the process would give parliamentary ownership
to relations with the US which were being run on an ad hoc
basis and had resultantly been marred by trust deficit.

Underscoring the significance of political leadership’s
input, Mr Gilani had told military commanders this week
that “the input of political leadership on challenges posed
to national security is a decisive component of the
holistic national security paradigm”.

Although there has been a strong military influence over
the process being drummed up as exclusively political,
military officials say it was necessary to safeguard long-
term strategic interests of the country against short-term
expediencies of some quarters.

The military has maintained its dominance in the realm of
foreign affairs on the pretext of protecting ‘national
interest’.

Mr Basit said the outcome would be far-reaching and reflect
aspirations of the people of Pakistan.

“So, we attach immense importance to this process.”

After the conclusion of the parliamentary process a number
of US officials are likely to visit Islamabad for bilateral
talks on new terms.

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17, March, 2012

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Shahbaz vows strong action against looters

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By Our Correspondent

GUJRANWALA, March 16: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif
said on Friday that rulers were violating the Supreme
Court’s order by refusing to write a letter to the Swiss
government.

Addressing a public meeting in Wazirabad, he said looters
of public exchequer would not be spared and they would be
dragged on roads after his party’s victory in the coming
elections.

Mr Sharif said the rulers were trying to conceal corruption
cases and illegal money by exploiting the name of Benazir
Bhutto. “If people supported us, we’ll drag Zardari on the
roads of Lahore, Karachi and Larkana.”

He said the politicians who had been changing loyalties
since the Ayub era and were involved in the killing of
innocent children in Lal Masjid during the Musharraf regime
could not bring about revolution. The chief minister said
that a cardiology centre would start working in Wazirabad
during the current year.

MNA Iftikhar Ahmed Cheema said people of the area would not
accept an alliance of the PML-N with PML-Q (Likeminded)
chairman Hamid Nasir Chattha.

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17, March, 2012

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SC to hear petition against jirga system

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By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 16: The Supreme Court will commence
regular hearing on a petition moved by the National
Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) seeking a
declaration that the jirga system in the country is inhuman
and against the fundamental rights of citizens.
A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammad Chaudhry and Justice Tariq Parvez, which had taken
up the petition of NCSW chairperson Anis Haroon and others,
decided to issue notices to Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul
Haq as well as respondents, including secretaries of law
and interior and chief secretaries of the four provinces
and Gilgit-Baltistan.

An identical petition filed by Samar Minallah against
Swara, a custom in which girls and women are exchanged to
settle disputes through jirga, will be clubbed with the
NCSW petition. The court office will announce a date for
the hearing later.

Ms Haroon informed the court that 87 jirgas had been held
in Sindh last year alone in which 26 girls and women had
been exchanged for settling disputes. Ironically, she
lamented, district administrations were not taking interest
in taking action against those involved in violation of the
fundamental rights of women.

The NCSW petition has cited the Haripur jirga trial of June
7, 2011, on whose order a middle-aged woman, Shehnaz Bibi,
was ruthlessly dragged out of her home by the jirga team
and forced to parade naked on the street as punishment for
an alleged crime of her sons.

Similarly, on an ex-parte jirga decision on June 21 last
year in Bari Kot village in Swat, Ms Shazia was murdered by
her husband Muhammad Saeed and others on the suspicion of
his wife’s alleged illicit relationship with his brother.
The petition requested the court to declare that the jirga
system was a parallel judicial system because it assumed
the powers of civil and criminal courts to implement its
own orders. It also urged the court to hold null and void
actions taken, proceedings conducted and orders passed by
any jirga, panchayat or similar bodies and ordered
appropriate actions against people who participated, aided
or abetted illegal activities.

The petition sought court’s directives for the respondents
to frame, amend and implement constitutional provisions and
penal laws relating to illegal practices of jirga.

It said: “Such illegal practices being carried out in
different parts of the country with impunity violate the
state laws and fundamental rights of its citizens and also
jeopardise state position with regard to international
treaties to which Pakistan is a signatory.

“The practice of jirga also contravenes Articles 4, 8, 9,
10, 10(a), 14, 25, 34 and 37 of the Constitution which
guarantees legal protection, right to enjoy life, liberty
and justice to the citizens of Pakistan and to be treated
in accordance with the law.”

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DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
*DWS
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                  E D I T O R I A L N E W S

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11, March, 2012

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Way forward for ISI

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THE announcement that Lt-Gen Zahir ul Islam is to replace
the retiring Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha as ISI chief is a moment to
reflect on the future direction of the country’s most
famous — some may argue infamous — intelligence agency.
Trying to predict the vision and agenda of an ISI chief
based on his service record and a few nuggets of
information is a fool’s errand and akin to reading tea
leaves. But Gen Islam will have several important choices
before him when he takes up his new assignment later this
month. He could continue the process of disengaging the ISI
from a direct and influential role in the political process
that, oddly enough, was begun under Gen Pasha. For when the
history of Gen Pasha’s service is written, it will likely
be acknowledged that his was a tenure of two halves. During
his original term in office, Gen Pasha avoided overt
meddling in the political process but after his extension
was granted, and in particular the last few months of his
service which have been embroiled in the ‘memogate’
controversy, the ISI has been perceived to have once again
upped its involvement in politics. The allegations
surrounding the creation of the Difaa-i-Pakistan Council
and sponsorship of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf have been
particularly damaging.

So Gen Islam will quickly have to decide if he wants to
return to the original, hands-off approach of Gen Pasha or
continue with the more intrusive political role that has
characterised his last leg in office. The preferred option,
at least from the standpoint of what the ISI’s core
competence is and what the constitutional democratic order
demands, is of course obvious: the ISI should wrap up its
political activities and focus on the fight against
militancy. With the so-called Afghan endgame likely to be
played out on Gen Islam’s watch, with militancy inside
Pakistan morphing and still posing a formidable threat, and
with Pakistan’s cooperation with the outside world on
curbing Islamist militancy likely to continue to be under
serious scrutiny, Gen Islam and the agency he will lead
have more than enough to contend with without adding
domestic political machinations to the mix.

With the appointment of Gen Islam, perhaps the recent
practice of giving extensions in service to certain
officers should also come to an end. Extensions are a
controversial matter outside the armed services as well as
inside, as the outgoing air force chief’s comments
indicated. A professional institution with highly qualified
and competent officers such as the Pakistan armed forces
has no need for indispensables. When it’s time to go, it’s
time to go.

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11, March, 2012

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Defamation laws

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THE growth of Pakistan’s media industry has led to many
benefits. The level of information available to the public
has increased and the nature of it has improved. While over
the years we have seen sporadic moves to control the flow
of information, the country has fortunately been able to
ward off most direct attempts to limit the right to free
speech. Yet where the media’s rights are eminently worthy
of being defended, so are those of the rest of the
citizenry. It is for this reason that in demanding the
repeal of the Defamation Act of 2002, the Press Council of
Pakistan may be acting in haste. The PCP comprises
representatives of crucial professional forums including
the All Pakistan Newspapers Society and the Pakistan
Federal Union of Journalists as well as government
officials and legislators. At a meeting in Islamabad on
Friday, the PCP adopted a resolution demanding the repeal
of the 2002 legislation and amendments to Section 500 of
the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 502-A of the Criminal
Procedure Code, which also relate to libel and slander.

The demand is worthy of remark because in all civilised
societies, guarantees of media freedoms are balanced with
legal mechanisms that allow individuals the right to
approach the justice system if they believe they have been
wronged. Particularly for people who are not in the public
light, or in cases where the release of information cannot
be justified under the principle of overarching public
interest, there must be laws that can be invoked in the
event of wilful or even inadvertent abuse by the media of
people’s privacy rights. It is true that Pakistan’s
defamation laws are coercive in their current form,
particularly in terms of penalties and the presence of, for
example, a Zia-era amendment to the PPC that refuses to
recognise veracity or public interest as justifications. It
is also true that the media, because of their particular
task, are often conduits for allegations, not accusers in
themselves. Yet the answer does not lie in removing the
citizenry’s access to legal recourse; it lies in amending
and improving the existing framework of laws.

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11, March, 2012

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Vanishing mangroves

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UNDERLINING the need to conserve mangroves, experts at a
recent conference in Karachi highlighted the fact that
Pakistan is amongst the 14 countries in the world most
vulnerable to natural disasters. The coastal plants are
important as they form a natural barrier against strong
waves and tsunamis. However, mirroring the negative trend
in other parts of the world, human activity in this country
has been principally responsible for the devastation of
this vital ecological resource. One expert at the
conference said Pakistan had the highest rate of
deforestation in the world; in the 1960s mangrove cover in
the country was said to have been over 604,000 hectares. By
2010 this had been reduced to some 104,000 hectares.

Though there has been greater awareness over the last few
years about the importance of conservation and efforts have
been made to counter deforestation by planting saplings,
management and follow-up need to be improved. For example,
the Sindh Assembly was recently told that over 35 per cent
of the saplings planted in the Keti Bundar area in 2009 in
pursuit of a world record have perished. Apart from their
obvious role as nature’s defenders of the coastline,
mangroves have immense ecological and economic value. They
serve as nurseries for fish and shrimp and rookeries for
birds, as well as support various species of wildlife. They
are potential sites on the eco-tourism trail, if managed in
a sustainable manner. Yet all this may be under threat due
to the rapacious onslaught of ‘development’. Though concern
for the environment appears low on the priority list of
both the state and the public, this must change. Action is
needed to preserve Pakistan’s ecosystems, specifically its
mangroves. The destruction of mangrove cover for short-term
gains cannot be allowed to continue at the cost of the
nation’s biodiversity.
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12, March, 2012

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Banned groups

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ANOTHER three religious groups with links to militancy and
terrorism were banned over the weekend by the federal
government, taking the total number of proscribed groups in
the country to 38. But this is no belated move that is
worthy of applause, for the experience with the first 35,
banned through various notifications since 2001, suggests
that simply outlawing groups either pushes them further
underground or, as is increasingly the case, the groups
resurface with a new name soon enough.

The fact of the matter is that Pakistan has no coherent
strategy to deal with sectarian and radical Islamist
outfits that practise and preach violent jihad. Worse,
there are more than just lingering suspicions that the
state itself helps some of these groups survive. For what
else can explain the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, the now banned
offshoot of the anti-Shia Sipah-i-Sahaba, being warmly
embraced by the Difaa-i-Pakistan Council, itself packed
with establishment favourites who dabble in extremist
rhetoric and worse? Banning the ASWJ now when in the very
recent past the group had been allowed a high-profile
public platform does not really have the makings of a
credible, anti-extremism policy.

While official tolerance for or indifference towards groups
linked to violence and operating publicly in Pakistan is a
big part of the problem, there is also the shrewdness of
these outfits that has to be contended with. Taking
advantage of the devastation caused by floods and rains in
Sindh over the last couple of years, religious ‘charities’
with fairly obvious links to militant groups have leapt
into the field and secured a foothold for themselves in new
areas. Meanwhile, that most rabid of sectarian outfits the
Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is believed to be recruiting in the
Brahvi belt in Balochistan, where well-funded clerics have
radicalised parts of the population. Faced with a canny and
cunning foe, the state has much to do to stay one step
ahead of these groups. Tweaking laws to deal with such
groups, resourcing law-enforcement and intelligence
agencies to keep track of them and developing coordination
mechanisms to keep local, provincial and national agencies
in the loop and on the same page are only some of the
things that need to be done if radical outfits are to be
disabled. But first, there has to be the will. A tolerant,
pluralist Pakistan or a dark and ugly place where no one is
safe? The choice is one that Pakistan must make.

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12, March, 2012

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Prison reforms

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WHILE the Sindh minister for jails has highlighted his
government’s efforts to improve prison conditions, the fact
remains that much more needs to be done nationwide to
improve the state of correctional facilities. Nowhere in
the world is imprisonment a pleasant experience, yet the
condition of many jails in Pakistan can at best be
described as mediaeval. Local prisons suffer from myriad
problems, perhaps the biggest of which is overcrowding.
Many jails house double the number of inmates than their
original capacity, with the situation in Punjab
particularly acute. As the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan notes, the majority of inmates are under-trial
prisoners, which indicates the inefficiency of the judicial
process. Inmates, particularly younger ones, are exposed to
extremists in jail while hardened criminals are often
locked up with those serving time for petty offences. There
have been several instances of criminals and terrorists
carrying on their activities from within prison with the
help of cellphones. The availability of decent healthcare
to prisoners is also an issue, and there is hardly any
focus on the mental health of the inmates. A particularly
cruel reality of the system is that children often
accompany female prisoners if there is no one to care for
them outside.

Perhaps it is due to all these factors that the
International Crisis Group, in a report last year, said
that Pakistan’s “prisons have become a fertile breeding
ground for criminality and militancy, with prisoners more
likely to return to crime than to abandon it”. The
situation may be bleak, but that does not mean the state
should abandon attempts to reform it. As the ICG notes,
building more jails is not the solution; finding
alternatives to imprisonment, such as fines and community
service, particularly for petty crimes, may well improve
the situation especially where overcrowding is concerned.
Bail laws must also be enforced while under-trial prisoners
who cannot afford counsel should be offered free legal aid.
Politicians know about prison life, as many of the
country’s top leaders have done time, often on politically
motivated charges. Hence there is all the more reason for
them to initiate meaningful prison reforms.

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12, March, 2012

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A literary dilemma

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ACCORDING to a report, Pakistan does not feature on
Unesco’s index of countries whose contemporary literature
in indigenous languages is documented by the UN body
annually. Which is not to say that no mentionable
literature is produced by this multilingual nation of 180
million. Far from it. The problem lies in the steady
decline of reading habits over the years. Seldom does a
book appear today in Urdu, arguably the most widely read
language in Pakistan, with a count exceeding 500 copies.
Indeed, publishers say they are often hard-pressed to sell
even that many copies. This was not true for writers and
poets from preceding generations of scribes whose works
continue to run into several editions even today. The
contemporary Urdu short story has a considerable following
but such stories mostly appear in literary journals and
seldom as individual or collective anthologies. Poetry
fares a bit better; the novel, the mainstay of fiction in
most modern languages, has traditionally been a weak genre
in Urdu prose, which is still young at 150-something.

However, literature produced in Sindhi, a much older
language in its written form, is thriving when compared to
Urdu, Pushto, Balochi or Punjabi. As for the handful of
Pakistanis now writing fiction in English for a global
readership, and some also winning laurels, it is a healthy
development all considered. But the fact remains that
despite our steadily mounting numbers, the reading public
in Pakistan has shrunk over the years. This calls for
introspection, especially in the education sector which
does not figure prominently in our scheme of national
priorities. Much less emphasis is placed on the quality of
education that is overlaid with ideology and rhetoric.
Textbooks will have to make more room for creative writing,
thinking and, eventually, fresh creative writing that will
be born of this process.

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13, March, 2012

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Forced conversions

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ALLEGATIONS of the forced conversion of young Hindu women
in Sindh, endorsed by the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan, bring to light yet again the dilemma faced by the
minority Hindu community. Many families say they live in
fear and insecurity as reportedly some 20 young girls are
said to convert to Islam on a monthly basis. Each incident
begins with allegations of kidnapping and forced
conversions levelled by the affected family and ends in the
girl in question being produced in a court of law to
declare that she has converted of her own free will. Such
court hearings take place under highly tense circumstances,
where police and armed Islamists are said to threaten the
complainants of dire consequences, and the ‘converted’
woman is not allowed to meet her family members or
community elders.

Observing this repeated pattern and the coercion involved,
the HRCP is right in questioning the veracity of such
conversions. Why is it only young women of marriageable
age, and not male members of the Hindu community, who
nearly always convert under dubious circumstances, ask
human rights activists. Reports of Hindu families migrating
to India and elsewhere also surface from time to time, with
fear and insecurity cited as the main reason for the move.
The Sindh Assembly may have taken up the issue for a
summary debate recently, but the provincial government has
remained silent on the treatment of minorities, a general
state of apathy being the unfortunate norm.

The law and order situation in Sindh leaves much to be
desired. Kidnapping for ransom in cities and towns remains
high; in the hinterland, especially where minorities are
concerned, the practice also involves the abduction of
women by those with any feudal power for reasons based in
sheer lust and debauchery. In case the girl belongs to a
minority faith, the crime committed often finds a ready
alibi in claims of conversion, with the local mullahs
mobilised to lend support to these. The law, even when it
takes its logical course under the charged circumstances,
is nearly always seen to take the convenient route: it
endorses the ‘conversion’ and lets the girl go with her
alleged abductor. This painful pattern, without any hope of
redress or sincere investigation, has left the Hindu
community in duress. The government must take up the issue
with due urgency, and heed the advice of rights groups to
take the women involved in protective custody pending a
full investigation into alleged abduction and forced
conversions. Democratic norms and plain decency demand that
justice be served regardless of the faith of the parties
involved.

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13, March, 2012
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From Lahore to Istanbul

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SHOULD singer-actor Ali Zafar decide to come up with a
sequel to his London Paris New York he needn’t travel
further than our very own Lahore. It is three cities and
more rolled into one. It’s been a while since it became
Paris and Monday’s papers predicted it will soon turn into
Istanbul. The declaration was made during the visit to the
Punjab capital by the mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas. A
partnership has been struck and Lahore is bracing for the
launch of a rapid bus transit service and a solid waste
management programme with Turkish help. This calls for more
than a note of gratitude. We must reciprocate with
something really useful for our Turkish friends and place
trust in Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to come up with that
something.

The morphing of Lahore into a Paris or an even more
‘brotherly’ Istanbul is a tricky proposition, though. For
starters, it may give an inferiority complex to Lahorites
who are too self-boasting to trade the city with any place
on earth. True, that for the last three decades the city
has been synonymous with the Sharifs and their sincere
work. However, we know that an offer to modernise can cause
our rulers to get overexcited especially if an election is
near. The first few underpasses on the famed Canal Road are
proof of an administration that was overly eager to be
connected to the modern world. These passes are on the left
side of the road, the side which should be designated for
slower traffic and those wanting to exit the road. A
correction was later made and a series of new underpasses
emerged on the right side. But the old ones stayed, giving
Lahore another of its unique features. Hopefully, these
passes will survive when Lahore crosses the bridge to
Istanbul.

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14, March, 2012
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Railway fare

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EVEN for its diehard supporters, Pakistan Railways today is
like a wagon attached to an engine at either end. Just as a
weak engine tries to propel it forward, the other roars
into action and drags it back. Monday’s announcement of an
increase in train fares from March 15 has been received
with the usual angry sentiment. Fare increases are never
welcome, but in this instance the hike comes at a time when
earnings are dipping, inflation is high and no cheaper
transportation option is available. The fare hike was
inevitable given the soaring oil prices, but it creates a
problem for PR just when it was finally showing signs of
emerging from its long slumber.

Of late it appeared as if some faithful passengers were
trickling back to the train stations. The Business Train
may have been regarded by some as an unworthy showpiece. In
the midst of skyrocketing air fares, however, it was
providing long-distance commuters with an option. The
resumption of the Shalamar Express after some 18 months was
well received. Benefiting from the investment that brought
some of the missing locomotives back on track, the Shalamar
with its seven economy-class wagons, and its more reliable
day runs between Karachi and Lahore, offered an affordable
choice. As locomotives returned, the goods train operations
picked up after a long period of virtual dormancy. In
recent months, up to four trains left Karachi for upcountry
on a good day; the number had previously fallen to a couple
of trains a week. This had raised hopes amid reports that
more locomotives — repaired or new — were on their way.

The fare issue is a sensitive one and its effects are going
to be felt not just by the passengers. It is going to add
to the negative publicity, most of it well-deserved, that
the PR had earned for itself in recent years. A day after
the announcement of the new fares, on Tuesday, the Economic
Coordination Committee of the federal cabinet approved the
provision of a guarantee for a loan of Rs6bn for
locomotives to enable PR to stay afloat. The future route
is clear. Overstaffed on the non-technical side and having
to make do with a decaying infrastructure, PR cannot
continue as an old public-sector organisation providing an
essential service without the right returns. An overhaul
and a new, sounder policy is what it needs. As a prelude,
PR must make efforts to ensure that its passengers are
getting the maximum possible value for their money and it
must somehow have its fleet up and running on a sustained
basis.

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14, March, 2012

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SBP guidelines

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THE State Bank of Pakistan’s latest anti-money-laundering
guidelines contain little that is new. The world began
putting in place stricter anti-money-laundering controls to
check terrorist funding in the aftermath of the Sept 11
strikes on American soil. Since then, the SBP has been
issuing to banks and other financial institutions
directions similar to the ones included in the guidelines
that it has recently come up with. Nevertheless, this
particular reminder implies that financial institutions
have not been able to fully implement the controls. It also
reflects how able, or otherwise, the central bank is to
effectively oversee the execution of its orders. Effective
implementation of these controls is crucial for blocking
funding for criminals, most significantly terrorists.
Strong controls against the laundering of ill-gotten money
are considered a big help in detecting corruption and
preventing financial and tax frauds. Pakistan has benefited
from the reduction in the transfer of money by its overseas
workers through the informal channels of hawala/hundi. Ever
since the checks have been placed, there has been a
phenomenal increase in remittances through formal channels,
which has aided the national economy in its moment of need.
It doesn’t really matter whether or not Pakistan has been
pressured into taking the step and by whom. The truth is
the country’s economy is relatively healthier for it.
The fresh SBP guidelines prohibit the use of personal
accounts for charity or the collection of donations and
require financial institutions to review their relationship
with NGOs and charities by June 30. The guidelines also
require that financial institutions conduct comprehensive
due diligence of organisations and individuals authorised
to operate their accounts before establishing a
relationship with them as the first line of defence against
money-laundering. This is in order to ensure there are no
linkages with banned groups and the use of funds is not for
illegal purposes. These appear to be good steps. Yet there
is apprehension that the rules can easily be misused, and,
in fact, selectively applied to harass and persecute
innocent entities. The State Bank must not allow that to
happen.

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14, March, 2012

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Bhambore ruins

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KUDOS to Sindh’s culture department for holding a series of
moots at heritage sites to highlight the latter’s
significance. The latest conference held last week at
Bhambore with participation from national and international
scholars and local citizens was part of the effort to draw
public attention to the province’s rich heritage. The ruins
at Bhambore date back, arguably, to at least the early
eighth century CE when the young Arab general Mohammad Bin
Qasim conquered the port city of Deebal after a battle with
a local raja. Excavated pottery and building structures at
the site reveal that it was indeed a thriving city located
at a crossroads of the trade route that connected this part
of the world with China in the northeast and the Middle
East to the west. Much of the ruins at Bhambore still lie
buried under the rubble of time, and only further
excavations will reveal the true significance of this
ancient site, which is waiting to be placed on UNESCO’s
List of World Heritage Sites.
Sindh is home to some of the world’s most spectacular
historical sites, with prehistoric Moenjodaro being the
envy of archaeologists anywhere. Together with Moenjodaro,
the medieval-time Makli necropolis near Thatta, with its
largely intact carved stone mausoleums, is already on
UNESCO’s list. It is indeed sad that a chronic paucity of
funds and the government’s lack of interest in the past
have not been able to solicit the international attention
that these and other heritage sites in Sindh deserve. Now
with the culture department playing a more proactive role
to streamline the importance of owning our heritage, it is
hoped that conservation work will start at those sites in
most need of it. The effort needs to be focused, sustained
and carried out under the supervision of qualified
conservation experts.

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15, March, 2012

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Pipeline concerns

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CONFLICTING messages have emerged over the last two days
regarding Chinese interest in the Iran-Pakistan gas
pipeline. The media had reported that, according to the
Economic Coordination Committee, the state-owned Industrial
and Commercial Bank of China may be leaving the financing
consortium for “geopolitical reasons” — likely a reference
to American sanctions — only for the petroleum ministry to
issue a clarification that members were lining up
regulatory approvals, that the ICBC has shown interest and
that China’s help is appreciated. The move demonstrates
that, despite its miscommunication and lack of
coordination, there is some recognition within the
administration of how important the China-Pakistan
relationship could turn out to be for this project.


Given the American sanctions against dealings with Iran
that could be applied to countries involved in the project,
any foreign funding that is offered on reasonable terms
needs to be pursued. Iran is facing its own economic
constraints because of sanctions. Pakistan has little
budgetary room for this project. And despite claims that a
cess that has already been levied would be able to fund the
entire effort, that revenue could be used for other energy
projects if favourable foreign funding can be arranged for
the pipeline, as seemed to have been done with ICBC. The
fact remains that China has been resistant to American
pressure regarding its own dealings with Iran, and Chinese
involvement has the potential to enhance stability in the
region by creating new commercial linkages. The ECC seems
to have laid out a number of other potential domestic and
foreign sources of financing, but it would be quicker to
encourage ICBC’s continued involvement since a preliminary
agreement had already been reached with other partners in
the consortium. Given the much-touted all-weather
friendship with China, then, the latter should be
encouraged to evaluate its participation based on the
project’s own merit rather than external pressure.

It remains true, as this paper has argued before, that the
IP pipeline is no silver bullet that will solve Pakistan’s
structural energy problems. Pakistani gas has long been
under-priced and diverted to relatively less productive
uses. Gas from the IP pipeline will reportedly be used
solely for power generation, and should reduce power rates
by allowing diversification away from oil. But indigenous
gas is about three times cheaper, and could have been even
more useful for power generation if gas usage and pricing
policies had been devised more carefully. Given some of the
other solutions, though, including a risky Tapi pipeline
and long lead times for developing domestic energy sources,
the IP pipeline has become critical, and the Pakistan-China
relationship should be leveraged to support it.

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15, March, 2012

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Media content regulation
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THE rapid expansion of Pakistan’s media industry has been
accompanied by reservations about the quality of content.
Admittedly, there have been instances — particularly in the
electronic media — where the limits of civilised discourse
have been transgressed. This can be put down to the
electronic media still being a young industry and the
inability of channels to self-regulate. To some, therefore,
the ‘content regulations’ drafted and approved by the
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority last month
may seem a good idea in theory, containing as they do
clauses meant to ensure, for example, that all programming
complies with the country’s laws and has nothing derogatory
to any religion, sect or community.

In theory is as far as it goes, however. Should content
codes such as these be put in place, it would soon become a
case of ‘give an inch and they’ll take a yard’ vis-à-vis
freedom of speech and the ability to freely report and
critique. The proposed code is worded so loosely that it is
a potential tool for censorship and intimidation of media
personnel and organisations. One worrying clause, for
example, says that no material can be aired that “is
against the national interest, brings into contempt
Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its integrity
or solidarity […]” Who will decide on matters as nebulous
as ‘national interest’? Potentially, such a clause could be
used to stifle critique. Similarly, the document proposes
to prohibit footage that can “cause depression” or that
ridicules a person or state institution. Defining such
things is too arbitrary a matter to be made a blanket
requirement.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that no industry ought to
operate entirely free of regulations, and in terms of
Pakistan’s media landscape there needs to be more self-
regulation. Organisations need to ensure that their
programming adheres to the highest editorial and aesthetic
standards, so that no need for intervention is perceived.
These matters could be handled by forums such as the
Pakistan Broadcasters Association, or through moves such as
the ‘code of conduct’ agreed upon by heads of major news
networks in 2009 to standardise professional guidelines.
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16, March, 2012

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Legitimate criticism

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UNHAPPY with the criticism directed at the Pakistan Army in
recent days, Gen Kayani has been quoted in a section of the
media as having said that the morale of the troops is being
affected. This on the same day that a Supreme Court bench
headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry suggested that
Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were overstepping their
domain and the National Assembly passed a unanimous
resolution calling for fresh legislation to regulate the
role and function of the intelligence and security
agencies. To the extent that Gen Kayani was referring to
the heroic efforts of Pakistani soldiers in fighting
militancy in harsh and unforgiving terrain being undermined
by the perceived lack of public support for the Pakistan
Army, he may have a point. In an extremely tough fight
against a tenacious foe, the army chief is right to call on
the country to pull together.

However, from the context and substance of Gen Kayani’s
remarks it appears the military chief is upset by what
ought to qualify as very legitimate criticism of the army
and its intelligence arms: the issue of the disappearances
and deaths of dissidents, the ISI’s unconstitutional and
illegal role in politics, and the army’s behind-the-scenes
influence on the democratic process. This is unfortunate.
History hangs heavy over the Pakistan Army. For decades, it
has directly and indirectly influenced the direction of the
state far beyond its official remit and treated all other
institutions, be it parliament or the superior judiciary,
as subordinate. To criticise the army leadership when it
overreaches and to demand accountability of those who have
violated the constitution and the law of the land is to
rise to the defence of democracy and constitutional order,
not to undermine the institution.
Perhaps Gen Kayani should reflect on events over the full
course of his tenure as army chief so far, and not just the
recent past. After becoming COAS he withdrew the army from
a direct and decisive role in politics and refocused the
institution under his command on its core duty: protecting
the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan from
external and internal threats. And for that Gen Kayani was
praised by the very sections of the media and society that
he is now criticising. What changed is that controversies
like ‘memogate’ and the emergence of the Difaa-i-Pakistan
Council on the political front were matched by failures
like May 2 and the PNS Mehran attack on the security front.
When the army does the job it is mandated to do, the
country salutes it. When it dabbles in areas outside its
constitutional domain, it rightfully attracts criticism.

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16, March, 2012

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Rampaging lawyers

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IT is tragic that in this country those tasked with
enforcing the law or practising it are often the ones who
make a complete mockery of it. Lower courts in Karachi
remained shut on Wednesday as judges refused to hear cases
in protest against the alleged misbehaviour of some lawyers
with a judicial magistrate. The magistrate had convicted a
lawyer and her husband of fraud on Tuesday, after which a
group of lawyers invaded his courtroom and started chanting
slogans against the conviction. Sadly, the past few years
have seen several incidents involving the high-handedness
of lawyers, including cases of black coats physically
assaulting judges as well as one another. Journalists have
not escaped their wrath, while policemen, too, have
received beatings, as in 2010 when lawyers thrashed a
police officer and helped an accused man — reportedly
related to one of the lawyers — escape custody in Lahore.
We must also recall that the offices of an NGO offering
free legal aid to prisoners were forcibly shut down by a
group of lawyers in Karachi last year.

While most of those who wield power and influence in
Pakistan flout the law at will, those who are supposed to
be well-versed in it are expected to uphold and respect it.
These actions by sections of the legal community are
therefore alarming. But what is equally disturbing is the
lack of condemnation coming from within the community.
While there has been criticism of such lawlessness from
some experienced jurists, many senior practising lawyers
have remained silent, careful not to offend members of
their fraternity. Such an attitude is unacceptable. It is
essential that bar councils and senior lawyers nationwide
censure those who indulge in thuggish behaviour to ensure
that a few black sheep do not end up defaming the whole
legal community.

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17, March, 2012

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American withdrawal

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AS if prospects for an orderly American pull-out from
Afghanistan weren’t already bleak, the latest news coming
out of that country reveals just how messy it’s going to
be. The Quran burning and the Panjwai massacre had already
raised urgent questions about the viability of the American
presence, but developments in the following days have shown
how complicated it will be to determine how and when to
unwind that presence. At one end are a war-weary American
public about to go to the polls and disagreements within
the US administration and military about the timing and
scale of the troops’ departure. At the other is an Afghan
president demanding an early withdrawal. While officials
try to conceal the dissonance in public by fudging the
specifics, this only confirms the lack of clarity within
and between the Obama and Karzai administrations on what
the process should look like.
Then there are the Taliban claiming to have suspended
American-led talks, now widely seen as a necessary
component of the winding down of this war. The talks had
always been an opaque affair, and very few people other
than those directly involved know how they were
progressing, which Taliban were at the table, how involved
Afghanistan and Pakistan have been, or even what exactly is
being negotiated. It’s also unclear to what extent this
supposed Taliban suspension has the buy-in of various
factions, or what the motivation behind it really was. The
Taliban have linked it to an inability to agree on
preconditions and the prisoner-swap issue. But given the
questions about the American presence that have been asked
across the world in the last week, this could just as well
be posturing from a perceived position of strength. Given
all these unknowns, it is difficult to say that the talks
have come to an end. But what the announcement does
indicate is that the recent conduct of American troops has
given the Taliban more chips to play with even as the US
tries to clarify an increasingly fraught exit strategy.

There is also the knotty but sometimes over-looked question
of what happens post-2014. The Americans want a scaled-down
long-term presence to keep out Al Qaeda but also presumably
for geopolitical reasons, and negotiations with Mr Karzai
on the issue had made progress before recent events. But it
remains unclear how America expects to maintain its
presence for another decade and still reach a settlement
with an enemy opposed to its presence on Afghan soil. Along
with many other uncertainties, it is a question that makes
the next few years of Afghanistan’s future look
increasingly grim.

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17, March, 2012

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The defiance continues

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TO the brink, then back and then back to the brink again —
the tug-of-war between the Supreme Court and the PPP-led
government appears to have reached a point of no return,
again. For weeks now, the SC has given the government as
much leeway as it has asked for on the issue of the Swiss
letter. Aitzaz Ahsan has been heard and reheard and then
heard again. The court has patiently listened to legal
arguments that would fail to convince a first-year law
student. And, probably with an intention to counter
criticism that it has zeroed in on the government, the
court has taken up issues that have greatly embarrassed the
court’s purported allies, the PML-N and the security
establishment. The government’s response? A defiant refusal
to write the Swiss letter that legal experts are unanimous
in suggesting will not automatically strip the president of
his immunity and probably not lead to much immediate
trouble for him. In fact, the government almost appears to
be challenging the court to oust the prime minister, if Mr
Gilani’s provocative comments on Thursday are anything to
go by.


If, as many suspect, a battle of wills is being fought, the
government seems content to lose the legal battle,
presumably because it expects to gain politically.

Perhaps the only positive that can be taken away from this
confrontation between institutions is that it has not
triggered panic and pandemonium in the political class as
yet. A prime minister is on the verge of being ousted and
the democratic order is not being perceived as under
fundamental threat. It could be read as a sign that the
democratic order has matured and is more resilient. Of
course, the fact that the real target is the president and
he isn’t directly in the crosshairs as yet has much to do
with the relative calm at the moment. The PPP must ask
itself this: if court action does lead to the ouster of the
prime minister, would the court haul up his successor too
or go directly for the president? To live to fight another
day is arguably the smarter political strategy here.

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17, February, 2012
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Water shortage

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THE Indus River System Authority has made a career out of
controversy, as it were. How much of the 60 to 70 per cent
water shortage this Rabi season comes from Irsa’s
mismanagement is an open secret. As a result, lower
riparian farmers in Sindh fear that their crops will suffer
enormously; Tarbela Dam has already hit dead level while
the Mangla reservoir is set to do so in the days ahead.
This means that little water will be released from these
reservoirs to meet the agricultural requirements of Punjab
and Sindh as the dry season progresses. Sindh will suffer
dual harm, as not enough water will be available for its
cotton and sugarcane crops, the banana and mango
plantations, and only a trickle will reach the delta, which
is already threatened by seawater moving upstream and
damaging arable land.

Farmers in lower Sindh suffered heavily last year too when
rains inundated a standing cotton crop. It took months for
the water to dry as the drainage system collapsed — and now
we have to face this shock of shortage. Farmers allege that
Irsa has breached the provisions of the inter-provincial
water accord by using excess water for power generation
instead of saving adequate quantities for agriculture. The
water regulatory body has not offered any explanation as to
the use of the depleted stock. It is time Irsa was made
more accountable with regard to allegations that the agreed
terms of water usage among the provinces have been
breached. For now, we remain at the mercy of nature: having
lost quantities of the life-sustaining resource, we can
only hope that the melting of ice on the mountains and
sufficient rainfall in the catchment areas of the river
system can somewhat mitigate the suffering of farmers,
particularly those in lower Sindh.

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DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
*DWS
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          C O L U M N S / A R T I C L E S N E W S

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11, March, 2012

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Smokers’ Corner: Back to G M Syed?

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By Nadeem F. Paracha

Last week newspapers reported a series of bomb attacks on
railway tracks in the Sindh province. The attacks were
owned by an obscure organisation called the Sindhudesh
Liberation Front. The name took a lot of non-Sindhis by
surprise. Why would there be an angry Sindhi movement when
there have already been two Sindhi prime ministers and,
what’s more, a Sindhi president is currently at the helm of
the federation?

However, according to Sindhi nationalists, the original
architect of Sindhi nationalism, the late G M Syed, is back
in vogue amongst the new generation of Sindhi nationalists.
Back in the 1960s, G M Syed, an accomplished scholar and
politician, painstakingly constructed an elaborate
historical narrative of Sindh and its people. It presented
Sindh as an ancient land whose people have always been one
of the most pluralistic and secular under both Hindu as
well as Muslim rule.

The narrative goes on to suggest that during the long
Muslim rule in the region, Sindh’s pluralistic tradition
was carried on by a number of Muslim mystics (Sufi saints)
and have continued to demonstrate a passionate attachment
to these mystics. Syed’s narratives on Sindh may now have
become common knowledge to most Pakistanis, but this was
not always the case.

In fact, just like Pashtun nationalist, Khan Abdul Ghaffar
Khan, and many Baloch nationalist thinkers, Syed too was
constantly put on the spot by the state for preaching
‘unpatriotic’ and ‘anti-Islam’ ideas. Syed was a magnet for
all sorts of ironies. During the Pakistan Movement he
steadfastly stood with Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali
Jinnah. But soon after independence, he became one of the
first prominent men to decry the hegemony of the ‘Punjab-
dominated elite’ over other provinces.

Another irony that Syed could never reconcile his politics
with was the Bhutto phenomenon. Z A Bhutto, a Sindhi, and
his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), experienced a sudden,
meteoric rise (in the late 1960s) when Syed’s narrative had
begun to take hold among Sindhi youth. Syed did not applaud
Bhutto’s rise in spite of the fact that Bhutto was a Sindhi
and a declared progressive.

Bhutto’s leftist but nationalistic rhetoric did not sit
well with Syed. To Syed if one brushed off Bhutto’s leftist
notions from the surface, underneath was a man willfully
doing the bidding for the ‘Punjabi ruling elite’. Syed’s
analysis had deemed Pakistan to be a state that was
destined to fragment. And just like his Baloch, Pashtun and
Bengali nationalist contemporaries, Syed too blamed the
myopic view of the ruling elite for this.

He accused the civil and military members of the elite for
undermining the cultural histories and traditions of the
many ethnicities that resided in Pakistan. He accused them
of undemocratically imposing upon the ‘oppressed
ethnicities’ a cosmetic version of nationhood. Syed’s
suspicion of Bhutto turned hostile when Bhutto used a
constitutional process to reinforce the kind of nationhood
and faith Syed had accused the establishment of imposing.

To Bhutto it was the dictatorial way that this concept of
nationhood had been imposed that made East Pakistan break
away and repulsed the non-Punjabi ethnicities. Syed
disagreed. To him Bhutto was merely giving ‘Punjabi
hegemony’ a constitutional sheen. In 1973 he finally called
for an independent Sindh (Sindhudesh).
In April 1979 when, through a sham trial, the Ziaul Haq
dictatorship sent Bhutto to the gallows, Syed termed
Bhutto’s tragic demise as a great loss to the
establishment. Mocking the establishment’s arrogance Syed
remarked ‘today they (the establishment) have killed their
own, best man.’

With Bhutto out of the way and a reactionary Punjabi
general ruling the roost, did Syed finally make Sindhis
rise for Sindhudesh?

No. Even though Sindhis did rise, especially during the
1983 MRD movement in which hundreds were killed and whole
villages were razed to the ground by army tanks, Syed did
not support the uprising.

This time another Bhutto had appeared, Benazir. To Syed
here was another popular Sindhi who was willing to clean up
yet another mess created by the establishment so the
federation could be saved; a federation Syed had no hope
in. Recently a young Sindhi (and PPP voter) told me that
the ‘establishment’ has started playing a game in Sindh
which even the PPP won’t be able to check.



On further inquiry he explained that some sections of the
intelligence agencies believe that they can subdue Sindhi
nationalism the way they did Pashtun nationalism and the
way they are trying to suppress Baloch nationalism, i.e. by
crudely injecting a puritanical strain of Islam into what
are almost entirely secular nationalisms.

‘Look what has happened in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’, said the
young Sindhi. ‘Look how sectarian organisations are roaming
freely in Balochistan. They (the ‘agencies’) are now
helping fanatics to build madressas in Sindh as well so
that Syed Sain’s legacy and those of the Sufis in Sindh can
be replaced by mullahs and extremists’. Or in other words,
by those who are ideological and political ‘allies of the
military-establishment’.

To the young Sindhi, Syed’s Sindhudesh Liberation Movement
was a reaction to this.

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11, March, 2012

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Enemies of the state

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By Cyril Almeida

SO now we know who got what and who paid whom. We’ve long
known what the goal was: bring in establishment favourites,
keep out BB’s PPP.

But why the manic need to stage the grand farce that was
the IJI?

If ZAB had still been around then, the fear of retribution
would have made sense. But when it came to vindictiveness
and revenge, Benazir wasn’t really her father’s daughter.
She wasn’t out to settle scores for what was done to her
father and to the PPP by the army and its allies.

In polite company, the reasons for shutting out the PPP and
ushering in the right-wing conglomerate that was born of
the womb of the PNA-led opposition to ZAB are rooted in
ideology.

BB had different ideas about the direction of national
security and foreign policies than the army, goes one
theory. While her father was the uber-hawk, outdoing even
the India-centric generals when it came to a hard line
against India, Benazir had grown up in a changed world.

BB wanted economic growth and social democracy. But you
can’t have a prosperous state that takes care of its poor
and allow its better-off to compete economically if you’re
at war with your biggest neighbour.

And you can’t build a viable state on the back of jihad in
your own backyard. Unleashing the demons of Islamisation
inside Pakistan was inimical to the country’s interests.

The army wasn’t ready for Benazir’s vision for Pakistan,
goes this theory. India was very much Enemy No 1 and
Islamisation had produced useful allies inside the country
and helped build public support for the army’s worldview
and strategic outlook.

So after Zia departed this world and a post-Zia script had
to be drawn up on short notice, there was still no room for
BB’s PPP.

In less polite company, the theories are more cutting and
personal. Back in the late 1980s, when the establishment
was more uniformly Punjabi, the PPP’s roots in Sindh were
viewed with deep suspicion. Governing was supposed to be
the business of Punjab, being governed the fate of the
other provinces — BB and her PPP belonged to the wrong
category to rule, goes this theory.

Then there were the fears that the PPP lot simply weren’t
patriotic enough. They may surrender the country’s nuclear
programme to the Americans. They’d sell Kashmir and the
Kashmiris down the river. They would do bad, bad things to
Pakistan’s security. They would, wait for it, undermine
national security.

There was also an element of the personal. Some of the
generals around at that time simply couldn’t stand BB and
loathed the idea of the PPP running the country.

And so was born the IJI.

They weren’t able to stop BB from winning in 1988 but they
did everything to undermine her government and went for the
kill two years later.

Of course, this being Pakistan, little ever goes to plan.

Nawaz Sharif and the generals got along fine but GIK and
Sharif weren’t able to play nice. Nawaz, who fancied
himself to be heir to the Mughal throne, wasn’t willing to
share top billing, and power, with GIK.

But GIK was the ultimate inside player so Sharif was out of
power within three years, though he was still on good terms
with the army. Sharif’s ties to the army began to fray
during his second stint in power and by 1999 that rupture
was complete, and irreparable.
Looking back, the army’s fear of BB was largely misplaced.
While she didn’t share the army’s strategic outlook and
didn’t subscribe to the national security paradigm of the
uniforms, she wasn’t really interested in taking on the
army. But, because it was prejudiced and blinded by
suspicion, the army didn’t get that and wasn’t able to make
its peace with Benazir or the PPP she led.

Of course, this is Pakistan and the law of unintended
consequences has deep roots here.

In trying to shut out from power a party and its leader
seen as inimical to the army’s interests, the army embraced
Sharif, the very man who shrugged off the army’s patronage
and has grown into most direct threat to the army’s
internal predominance in decades. The gods do have a sense
of humour sometimes.

But the army is nothing if not incorrigible.

Fast-forward two decades and the PPP has taken
pusillanimity to its logical conclusion under Asif Zardari.

The catalogue of Zardari’s capitulations before the
establishment is lengthy: national security and foreign
policies were surrendered early on; more recently, the
political government has echoed establishment thinking on
the relationship with the US and the post-American future
of Afghanistan; and even close confidante Husain Haqqani
was sacrificed when the dubious Mansoor Ijaz surfaced with
his peculiar allegations.

And yet, and yet we have the likes of the Difaa-i-Pakistan
Council running around the country trying to whip up a
frenzy and the PTI surging ahead in the urban popularity
stakes with the establishment cheering it on in the not-
too-distant background.

Zardari, that most craven of allies without a shred of
geopolitical ambition and content to suckle at the teats of
the Pakistani state in the ill-fitting guise of a democrat
— even he has not been able to assuage the army’s doubts
and suspicions about the PPP.

Could Zardari yet pull a Sharif and grow into a statesman
who understands that the central problem holding back
Pakistan is the civil-military imbalance? If wishes were
horses.

Perhaps all we can do is count our blessings that the
country has moved on from 1990. Even if they want it, they
won’t be able to create an IJI-style abomination today.

The writer is a member of staff.

cyril.a@gmail.com

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12, March, 2012

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Desert of the real

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By Hajrah Mumtaz

THE 1999 dystopian film The Matrix was a groundbreaker in
more ways than one.

In the world of film it is remembered for its technical
brilliance; for many, it was in its own way as much of a
cult film as, some argue, was Huxley’s Brave New World or
Orwell’s 1984 in earlier times — unkind as the comparison
may seem to readers of literature.

Admirers of The Matrix remember one phrase in particular.
“Welcome to the desert of the real,” Morpheus tells Neo,
explaining that the ‘real’ world that humanity believes
itself to be living in is actually just a computer
simulation: a programme fed into people’s inert but alive
bodies by machines. The actual world is dominated by death,
a place without colour and life.

Hence, many watchers assumed, ‘the desert of the real’.But
amongst more academically inclined audiences, the use and
context of the phrase raised other flags. The term refers
to the concepts explored and articulated by French
philosopher Jean Baudrillard, particularly to the text
Simulacra and Simulation. This is read by students of
social science for its discussion of images, signs and
their relation to modern society. (Although Baudrillard was
not impressed by The Matrix and said that it distorted his
work.)

Baudrillard conceived of the idea that in modern society,
‘real’ reality has been replaced by sets of symbols and
signs, as a result of which the human experience refers
more to the experience of simulations rather than reality
itself. His ‘simulacra’ is comprised of the signs of
culture and media that create a perceived reality, which
can be the same as not at all like ‘real’ reality.

In Baudrillard’s view, societies in the modern world have
come to rely so much on the simulacra that they have, in
many cases, lost contact with the real world upon which the
simulacra are based.

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Consider the
aggregated effect on people of the fact that they live
their lives under constant bombardment of media messages
carrying heavy doses of meanings both expressed and
suggested. The sheer volume of information coming from all
directions make it more possible to confuse ‘real’ reality
with the simulacra, or altered realities, created by the
media industry.

This blurring of boundaries, and the many instances of
purposeful or unintended indoctrination, go largely
unnoticed by the media producer or consumer, working on a
subconscious level by changing attitudes and expectations.

Media anthropologists say that entertainment and
advertising have greater effect in this regard, for the
consumer has his guard down, although of course the news
media also have a similar effect.

As an example of the last, consider a headline I saw
recently that referred to Vladimir Putin and Russia’s
relations with the ‘outside world’. The use of this term
suggests walls and barriers, a reminder of the Iron
Curtain, where Russia is closed in on itself or imprisoned,
while the rest of the world is outside — free, by
implication.
‘Outside world’ carries implications of detention (which
suggests being out of control) or of barriers (which evokes
powerlessness). These images are impregnated with the
western view of the erstwhile Soviet Union: Russia is a
‘them’, not an ‘us’.

Reading that headline, few people would consciously
register such associations. Yet the linkages all lie deeply
embedded in our minds, subtly directing our thoughts and
shaping our impressions.

Hyper reality and real life have different narratives and
assumptions. When the boundaries become blurred, according
to Baudrillard, we end up viewing real life through the
prism of media-constructed simulacra. And this is becoming
more convincing, more vibrant, more ‘real’, by the day.

Consider, for example, the success of Industrial Light and
Magic and other wizards like them. Then visualise a
battlefield. Most people, who do not have any personal
experience of war zones, can nevertheless think up a
picture of what it would look like, based in large
proportions on all the war we’ve consumed on film and
television over the years.

Similarly, the concept of a ‘man on a mission’ has been
cemented in our minds by the action genre: destiny selects
some people to play a certain role, and destiny ensures
that despite the odds, they will prevail.

Similar edifices exist in our minds regarding the simulacra
about the man standing up to fight for the oppressed: from
Maula Jutt to Mr India to Superman, we have been taught
that he will eventually succeed. This is but natural, for
human optimism is bolstered by hyper reality which is
constructed to feed it.

I wonder, therefore, how far George W. Bush’s belief in
himself as a saviour of the free world and a bringer of
democracy was fed by such simulacra and hyper realities.
There’s no way of quantifying this, but certainly he stated
proudly on many occasions that he grew up on a steady diet
of westerns.

One could argue that Pervez Musharraf, and others, too,
lived in a Pakistan Army-inspired hyper reality, fed by
nationalistic idealism, where it is their job, and theirs
alone, to drive back the threats to the country, regardless
of the quarter from which they come.

These hyper realities, these insidious simulacrums, remain
with us. One of enduring Pakistan’s simulacrums is that
there are countries such as the US and India that wish to
dismember or damage this country. So even though Pakistan’s
civilians and soldiers are falling to extremism, there is
still little real consensus on who the enemy is.

The simulacra of nationalist ideology combined with that of
religion tells Muslims cannot be an enemy, that Pakistanis
cannot be the enemy and that neither can be evil-doers.
Faced with an enemy that is most certainly both Muslim and
Pakistani, many of us are left in the limbo of disbelief.

To pull Pakistan out of the pit in, we need to face the
desert of Pakistan’s real: the military battle is short-
term, but the ideological war is for the long term.

The writer is a member of staff.

hajrahmumtaz@gmail.com

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14, March, 2012

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The honour problem

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By Rafia Zakaria

ON International Women’s Day, while the world was spending
time ruminating on all the evils one half of its population
is subject to, some residents of Rahim Yar Khan district
were busy with something else.

According to newspaper reports from the Basti Ramday area,
about 150 citizens gathered to hold a jirga. The problem
was an old one: two young people from the community had
eloped. The village was angry; if young people kept going
off and contracting marriages on their own, what would be
left of their tradition, their mores and their age-old
customs?

Nearly everyone, including the girl’s father, felt wronged.
Marriages, after all, are a way of solidifying
relationships, sorting out property disputes and settling
debts. People, especially unmarried people, are social
capital. When they run away without paying up, everyone
left behind loses.

The jirga did what jirgas have done in similar cases all
over South Asia and the Middle East: they ordered the
couple be killed. They did this even though there are laws
against honour killing in Pakistan, even though the
couple’s only crime was to want to choose their life
partner themselves, even though at some juncture, however
distant, the man and woman concerned were indeed loved by
their parents, raised from infants to grown adults.

Now they are hated because in prioritising their individual
desires over that of the community, over the futures of
younger siblings who will now have trouble finding spouses,
or the marriages of aunts and uncles who will also bear the
burden of the family shame, they have been stubborn and
selfish.

This parsing of the intent of those who perpetuate honour
crimes is an often ignored dimension of the issue.

In recent years, as legislation and activism against such
crimes has grown, the assumption has simplistically been
that passing laws against honour killings is sufficient to
eliminate them. There have been many seminars on the evil,
activists have compiled data and marched at rallies, bills
have been introduced and passed.

At best, this premise has been expanded to include
simultaneous work on educating community elders on the
inhumanity of the act and on its grim and barbaric
misogyny.

With laws and workshops, activists assume, the pestilence
of honour killings, of people being killed needlessly for
the crime of choice, can be eliminated. In the meantime,
honour killings continue not secretly or surreptitiously
but with crowds of people involved in issuing murderous
edicts publicly and without any fear.

Here is why: first, honour killings represent not simply
misogyny and retrogressive beliefs but a reaction against
the unit of decision-making in a changing culture.

When an individual makes a decision based on the criterion
of individual desires everything that is communal is
immediately threatened. Failure to punish transgressions
means that the community is weak, its edicts and
pronouncements are not pressing on those wishing to belong
and are, in fact, arbitrary and subject to being flouted.

Furthermore, those paying into the community coffers by not
exercising individual choice — by marrying according to
what was determined to be communal good rather than
individual desire — feel spurned and duped. Of what value
is their compromised life with the old husband or the fat
wife if others are basking in the glow of being wed to
their heart’s desire? None of the above assertions are new.
What is new is their application in the Pakistani context
which is suspended somewhere between a communal and
individualist culture. The lethal hits on tradition and the
popularisation of the individual over the community have
come from some unexpected sources.

First among these would be the proliferation of religious
extremism which seeks to recruit young men for jihadi
outfits. If choosing your own spouse is one form of
defiance against tradition, another equally selfish one is
to choose to devote one’s life to a cause unrelated to the
welfare or salvation of the community.

As the families of suicide bombers lament, orphaned
children, hapless wives and devastated parents are left
behind when a young person defies all ties and
responsibilities in a misguided quest for individual
salvation.

The object of their pursuit is undoubtedly different from
those who choose to elope, but the unit of choice — the
single person — is the same. Jirgas may never condemn them,
but the cost they inflict on the old order is nevertheless
the same.
Other recent assaults on tradition have been accomplished
by the usual suspects: urbanisation and migration, floods
and earthquakes, all of which have revealed just how unable
communities and tribes actually are to pay up in terms of
the security that is imagined to reside in the propriety of
following communal dictates.

Along with being misogynistic and barbaric, honour crimes
are also retaliation against a changing unit of human
action, of societies lashing out against evaluating human
behaviour in a new way.

Their particular proliferation in Pakistan is consequently
representative of deep confusion over the moral value of
this change. With no strong state to step in and provide
the security once provided by traditional institutions, the
spectre of anarchy hangs ominously over many, and hapless
communities feel that strong and bloody action is necessary
against anyone who transgresses.

Honour   killings are the sores of this disease of moral
chaos,   of unclear ethical parameters when the cost of
choice   begins to be imposed on one person alone versus
entire   families, castes or tribes.

Hopefully, the couple from Rahim Yar Khan will be able to
make their escape into the anonymous slum of some faraway
city where they can live out the remainder of their lives.

While they may get lucky, be favoured by fate and fortune,
honour killings will continue in Pakistan as they will in
every place where the move from thinking about good and bad
is suspended in limbo between ‘we’ and ‘I’.

writer is an attorney teaching political philosophy and
constitutional law.

rafia.zakaria@gmail.com

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14, March, 2012

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Balochistan in the limelight

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By Mahir Ali

“IF Pakistan wants to treat us as a sovereign people, we
are ready to extend our friendship. But if Pakistan does
not do so and forces us to accept this fate, flying in the
face of democratic principles, every Baloch will fight for
his freedom.”

These sentiments could have been expressed yesterday. But
they weren’t. They date back some 65 years.

The prescient sentences come from a speech in the Kalat
Assembly by a young Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo. Not long
afterwards, ignoring resolutions passed by the assembly,
the Khan of Kalat — who had previously made the case that
Balochistan deserved independent statehood on the Nepalese
model — felt obliged, in the face of a military threat, to
sign the instrument of accession to Pakistan in 1948.

In surveying the present controversy over Balochistan,
thrust into the limelight by a barely relevant US
congressional subcommittee hearing earlier this year, it is
important to recall that its amalgamation into Pakistan
bore little relation to the popular will.

The spirit of resistance is not a 21st-century phenomenon,
nor does it stretch back only as far as the 1970s, when
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s dismissal of a popularly elected
provincial government led by Bizenjo and Sardar Ataullah
Mengal sparked four years of guerilla warfare.

It is also difficult to ignore the fact that the present
government’s supposed recipe for reconciliation is titled
Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i-Balochistan, loosely translatable as the
‘Beginning of Balochistan’s Rights’. It’s a bit late for a
beginning. Too much blood has stained the province’s rugged
terrain in the interim. Worse still, the mutilated corpses
of suspected political activists keep turning up far too
frequently — a phenomenon that until recently attracted
precious little attention in much of Pakistan’s mainstream
media.
It is unlikely that the person designated to implement the
Aghaz agenda, Rehman Malik, inspires a great deal more
faith among Baloch nationalists than Z.A. Bhutto’s
troublemaking interior minister Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan.
Besides, while Islamabad’s efforts may be directed towards
ostensibly desirable ends on the jobs and education front,
they are peripheral to the core concerns of the
nationalists — namely military and paramilitary operations,
conducted with impunity — and therefore liable to be
perceived as a meaningless sop.

It is not entirely surprising, meanwhile, that too much
attention has been paid by proponents and detractors alike
to the non-binding resolution moved in the US House of
Representatives by the chairman of the oversights and
investigations subcommittee, Dana Rohrabacher, on
sovereignty on Balochistan. The extent of Rohrabacher’s
familiarity with the territory is signified by the reported
fact that he refers to it as “Balookistan”.

A former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, Rohrabacher
conceded in an interview to The Washington Post last month
that he was an ardent supporter of Pakistan’s role in
Afghanistan when the Inter-Services Intelligence agency
(ISI) was training anti-Soviet jihadists, but that he now
views Pakistan as an enemy. “If people are being oppressed
by a government that is also committing hostile acts
against your country, it is logical to point that out,” he
told the Post.

By the same token, presumably, if people are being
oppressed by a government that worships Washington, it
would be illogical to point that out.

The resolution, co-sponsored by two other Republican
congressmen, appears to have been intended primarily to
embarrass the Obama administration, whose representatives
have been at pains to point out to Islamabad that the
relatively meaningless move was not backed by the White
House.

Not surprisingly, the attendant publicity has been embraced
by many Baloch nationalists as a positive development. It
would be unfortunate for them to harbour any illusions
about the motivations of Rohrabacher and his ilk, however,
let alone subscribe to the reported views of M. Hossein
Bor, described in Dawn as “a Baloch nationalist scholar”
who “assured the Americans that the Baloch were natural US
allies and would like to share the Gwadar port with the
United States”.

He also testified to human rights abuses in the province —
as, more credibly, did Human Rights Watch’s Ali Dayan
Hasan, who also pointed out the tragic fact that many of
Balochistan’s non-Baloch residents live in fear of
extremist violence.

The demographic changes in the province over the decades
are yet another bone of contention — one that would acquire
considerably more relevance were Baloch independence to
become an imminent prospect.

Independence would also entail other complications, such as
the fact that Baloch territory stretches into Iran and
Afghanistan. That may not be much of an issue for the likes
of Rohrabacher, who favours a partition of Afghanistan and
presumably wouldn’t be averse to the dismemberment of Iran.

It’s worth noting, though, that Z.A. Bhutto’s hostility to
Baloch nationalism was underscored by pressure from the
Shah of Iran — and there is no indication that the views of
the Islamist regime in Tehran substantially differ from
those of the Shah in this respect.

A concerted drive for Baloch independence thus may well
entail a regional conflict. Even if it didn’t, it would
undoubtedly be a bloody affair — quite possible
considerably bloodier than the deplorable status quo. After
decades of struggle and repeated setbacks and betrayals, it
would hardly be surprising were the Baloch to view any
promises of autonomy with scepticism. It’s telling, though,
that such concessions are not on the agenda.

The idea of an all-parties conference excites little
enthusiasm. The first meaningful step towards some sort of
a rapprochement would be the cessation of military
operations: after all, Balochistan needs to be conciliated,
not conquered. It is hardly likely though that the weak
central government could achieve this even if it were so
inclined.

The province’s feudal set-up is undoubtedly a matter for
concern, although it must be noted that, more so than
elsewhere in the country, components of the educated tribal
elite have also been behind progressive impetuses. The
existing relations of production will ultimately be
superseded. For the moment, though, the Zardari system
comes across as no less a barrier to progress than the
sardari system.

mahir.dawn@gmail.com

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15, March, 2012

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Say ‘no’ to arms

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By I.A. Rehman

THE interior minister has promised the outgoing members of
the Senate quite a few parting gifts. While it is difficult
to hold that his fit of generosity meets the test of good
sense, it is his offer to allow the ex-senators licences
for prohibited bore firearms that will cause widespread
alarm.

The desire of parliamentarians to go on enjoying VIP status
even after retirement is known. Some years ago, the list of
post-retirement privileges demanded for the speaker of the
National Assembly and the Senate chairman became so long
that many of their supporters got embarrassed. The
facilities demanded included the right to free lodging at
government rest houses, a substantial telephone allowance
and, of course, licences to keep guns. The move was
overtaken by events.

Over the past many years, parliamentarians have hardly been
able to persuade the people to increase or upgrade the
rewards for them. Even those who vigorously defend
parliamentarians for the sake of saving the democratic
edifice would like their perks to be indexed to
performance. If that is the public mood towards sitting
members, the views on benefits allowed to retired
parliamentarians can be imagined.

It is obvious that the privileges allowed to retired
parliamentarians cannot be denied to sitting members of
legislatures, and these will strengthen the tendency to
view elective offices as a means of self-aggrandisement. As
it is we seem to be moving farther and farther away from
the tradition seen in the early days of democratic
governance, according to which the honour of representing
large bodies of fellow beings was sufficient recompense for
legislators and pursuit of material gains was considered a
corrupt practice.

However, at the moment a more important issue is the idea
of allowing retired senators licences for prohibited bore
firearms. The move is ill-considered and fraught with
frightening implications. Already the country is paying
heavily for the glut of arms and any expansion of private
arsenals is bound to increase the scale of violence and
disorder. For years, the call to deweaponise society has
been issued from nearly all state and civil society
platforms. The present move betrays unforgivable contempt
for a national consensus.

The first danger is that a generous grant of arms licences
to retired parliamentarians will start a stampede for
similar concessions. One suspects that a large body of
elected representatives already enjoys the facility of
keeping arms at home and in vehicles. But anyone who
considers himself underprivileged in this area might like
to end his deprivation at the earliest. Those entering
elected assemblies in the days to come may, first of all,
queue before the arms-licensing counters.

Why should anyone want to have weapons of prohibited bore
or any firearms at all? If there still are people who want
to decorate their drawing rooms with guns and swords,
instead of carpets, paintings or other artefacts, they
should know that rusted and irreparable muskets and swords
ideally serve this purpose, besides bolstering the owners’
claims of distinguished ancestry.

A great majority of the privileged will say they need arms
for their security. In other words, they have no confidence
in the state’s capacity to provide security. If
parliamentarians feel this way, why shouldn’t other
politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and any aspirants for
joining the elite try to follow suit?

The arms-licensing authorities will come under pressure
from all kinds of adventurers. They will include leaders of
religious factions and youth forces such as the type one
came across some years ago in Peshawar and Mansehra, who
threatened, blackmailed and cajoled the authorities into
giving them as many licences for Kalashnikovs as allowed to
anyone else.

An arms race within the civilian population will result in
a huge proliferation of dangerous weapons. Nobody should
forget that arms, like wealth, change the psychological
make-up of men. An armed person loses his capacity for
peaceful argument and peaceful modes of celebration. He
develops a habit of firing guns on the slightest pretext.
Giving civilians arms is the easiest and most effective
means to promote the cult of violence.

That any increase in the number of licensed arms in society
leads to an influx of illicit weapons is known. Thieves,
robbers and gangs of kidnappers and traffickers — to say
nothing of extortionists and murderers operating under
pious labels — must equip themselves with weapons deadlier
than those possessed by their quarry.

This irreversible logic has already been seen as a result
of the policy of upgrading weapons allowed to the police
and all others who are described, quite undeservedly it
seems, as law-enforcement agencies. When police and
paramilitary forces began to be equipped with AK-47 assault
rifles, their adversaries went in for deadlier weapons,
including rocket launchers. Most of the offences by armed
civilian functionaries that are reported year after year
are due to the policy of putting guns into the hands of
immature youth.

It is possible to argue that the state started moving away
from non-violent ways of maintaining law and order when the
rules of arms usage by the police were changed. There was a
time when police officers could use only firearms that were
issued by the police station or post. Each gun was
registered and policemen had to render full account of each
bullet used.
For many years now, the firearms at police armouries have
been meant for display only. They are not even oiled and
polished the way prescribed for army jawans or jailers. The
result is that when the Taliban rose in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
policemen found their guns rusted and unserviceable. In
Punjab, the use of private arms, often unlicensed, by the
heroes of faked encounters is a scandal of the first order.

What Pakistan needs is a strict arms control regime — zero
tolerance for the use of illicit and unauthorised arms by
the police and paramilitary forces, a complete ban on the
grant of licences for prohibited arms for any class of the
civilian population and the strictest possible policy of
granting licences for small arms.

One does not know how far the Supreme Court directive for
the registration of all licensed arms with Nadra will go,
but the idea is certainly worth trying. A good case can be
made for making renewal of arms licences after every three
years or so subject to review by a board of senior and
peace-loving experts.

Civil society should also pay due attention to the
brutalising effect of the proliferation of arms. It should
not hesitate to put the authorities in the dock for having
abandoned deweaponisation after a few half-hearted and
desultory attempts. A campaign to achieve an arms-free
society should receive as much support as the need to
eradicate physical diseases, for the cult of violence is a
much deadlier disease of the mind than any cancerous
malignancy.

Prohibited bores for dignitaries? Certainly not, sir. Even
bores that are not prohibited are not acceptable.

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15, March, 2012

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Kaleidoscope of injustices

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By Jawed Naqvi

CHANNEL 4’s new exposé of the Sinhalese army’s unspeakable
atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils should put the focus
not only on that country’s scant respect for the Geneva
Conventions, it must shine the light on Colombo’s partners
in a crime which was no less in its enormity than a near-
successful attempt at ethnic cleansing.

The culprits most outstandingly include Pakistan and China
chiefly because they armed and advised the government of
President Rajapakse to carry out the war that ended in a
gut-wrenching climax.

The world’s civilised men and women should call to account
the role played by the United States and India among those
that looked away when women and children were being
slaughtered or raped and victory trophies videographed by
jubilant soldiers.

One such memento has fortunately found its way into the
safe hands of the British broadcaster and has set off a
delayed debate in the Indian parliament. Tamil MPs are
questioning New Delhi’s aloofness from a UN move to nail
the Sri Lankan government. The debate is of a piece with
other cosmetic overtures the world makes year-round, 24/7
towards calamitous dénouements that stalk ordinary people.

Nothing much will come out of the Indian debate if the
government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finds non-Tamil
allies to sustain its precarious majority in parliament. If
not, New Delhi will be compelled to censure Sri Lanka,
something it doesn’t really wish to do, not the least
because Sri Lanka deliberately doesn’t tinker with India’s
military depredations in Kashmir and other restive regions.

Callum Macrae, director of the film Killing Fields to be
shown by Channel 4, says the cold-blooded murder of a young
son of Velupillai Prabhakaran by government troops is only
one more proof of a pattern of executions that were carried
out at the behest of Colombo’s top leadership. Even the US
commandos left alone the wives and children of Osama bin
Laden.

What really emerges from the charges against the Sri Lanka
government and its rejoinder by denial is an international
charade about injustices.
For example, the Indian parliament was once a major forum
to discuss international struggles. On Wednesday, however,
as Tamil MPs shed mock tears over the outrage in Jaffna,
there was not a whimper of protest, not even from the left
parties, over yet another act of butchery unleashed by
Israel on the Palestinians in Gaza.

Did we hear a bleat out of Pakistan against the aerial
murder of innocents as it occasionally protests about its
own? The reason for me to mention Pakistan on Palestine is
linked to the Sri Lankan perfidy.

Remember that Gen Musharraf was on his way back from
Colombo after handing over a hefty cheque and promise of
arms to the Sri Lankan government when he hit the ground
running to stage the coup. I asked Gen Musharraf at a news
conference in Islamabad soon after he took power why he had
two sets of principles about freedom struggles. He
supported the Kashmiris but opposed the Tamils. He said it
was not Pakistan’s policy to interfere in another country’s
affairs.

That was rubbish. He had just come home after interfering
in another country’s domestic stand-off by arming one side
against the other. Recent reports suggest Islamabad is
willing to live with the back-burner treatment the Kashmir
dispute is now getting. Once a staunch supporter of
Palestinians it now looks to the Saudis to show the way.

True, times have changed; the Cold War has ended; the
Soviet Union has collapsed; the market called the shots
(till it shot itself in the foot) and unequal wars became
the beacons of hope for a global middle-class utopia. True,
there is growing compulsion for every vulnerable

Third World country to line up behind the remaining
superpower.

The story of the last two decades of the Middle East reads
much like an Agatha Christie novel about vendetta and
perfect murder. Saddam Hussein and Qadhafi opposed the
Saudis and their Fahd plan for peace with Israel. They were
dragged out and killed by western protégés.

Hafez Assad was the third key opponent of the Fahd plan
that aimed to give the Palestinians municipal rights in
their homeland. His son and current ruler of Syria is in
the crosshairs. And then there would be none, or so the
thinking goes.

As far as South Asia goes, there is something foul about
the nature of quarrels that break out between the seven or
eight neighbours. But prospects of peace between them seem
just as sinister. Let’s go back to the year Saarc was
founded in Dhaka in 1985. Who were the representatives of
the member states? Gen Ziaul Haq, Gen Ershad, King
Birendra, the Bhutan king, President Gayoom and Prime
Minister Jayewardene.

Two military dictators, two absolute monarchs, an autocrat
who had locked out his opponent from politics, and a
president who never allowed any opposition to be formed on
his archipelago.

In this motley group, India’s Rajiv Gandhi with his three-
fourths majority in parliament shone like a ray of hope.
But look closely: he had won the election following the
worst post-Partition communal polarisation in India. It had
followed the death of his mother and vendetta killings with
state support of thousands of Sikhs by bizarre Congress
nationalists.

Has the nature of the beast undergone a change because a
new system of superficially democratic governance has come
about here or there? Has the character of the state
changed, say in Pakistan, because the military is perceived
as weak before a civilian government? Let me apply a litmus
test.

Suppose one day, with all the bonhomie between the traders
of India and Pakistan, some businessmen in Karachi decide
to import vast quantities of bauxite from India. Suppose
the bauxite, as has happened elsewhere since the days of
Columbus, could only be procured by vanquishing its native
owners. What would the fleece be worth? What if a Musharraf
clone decides to support the Indian state against the
tribal people of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, as
China and the US did with Pol Pot?

The kaleidoscope of injustices throws up countless changing
images. Just roll the mirrors with your attention intact.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
jawednaqvi@gmail.com

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17, March, 2012

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Spooks in the spotlight

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By Irfan Husain

WHEN long-forgotten skeletons start emerging from the
basement into the glare of publicity, those who hid them
have good reason to be embarrassed.

So when Younus Habib was wheeled into the Supreme Court,
many people were shocked to see him.

But clearly, those who bankroll our spymasters are made of
durable stuff. In Habib’s case, while his revelations had
the power to titillate, they were hardly surprising. After
all, Asad Durrani had already deposed before the Supreme
Court that he had doled out millions to sundry seedy
politicians in a signed affidavit in 1996.

The retired general and ex-director of the ISI now says
that he paid off anti-PPP politicians in his personal
capacity at the behest of Aslam Beg, then army chief, and
Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the powerful president of the day. This,
of course, is rubbish. Would Younus Habib have obliged
Durrani with large amounts of cash if he had not been the
head of the ISI?

While this latest political scandal will no doubt keep our
TV channels in a high state of excitement until the next
one comes along, it has reopened long-simmering questions
about civil-military relations. The National Assembly’s
unanimous resolution to frame a law that will rein in our
intelligence agencies is a foretaste of things to come.
However, simply passing laws is not enough to control our
spooks. After all, forming political groupings, buying and
bullying politicians and rigging elections is hardly in the
ISI’s remit. And yet, all our principal intelligence
agencies, including MI and IB, have been dabbling in
politics for decades. Naturally, all this skulduggery goes
on in the name of national security.

Indeed, the number of crimes committed in the name of this
elusive security would fill several volumes. All countries
have intelligence agencies, but few intelligence agencies
have countries. In Pakistan, the ISI in particular has
acquired such a fearsome image that the imminent change at
the top has made headlines the world over.

However, the agency’s reputation has taken several huge
knocks of late. The year 2011 began badly for the ISI:
Raymond Davis gunned down two would-be robbers in broad
daylight in Lahore, and we thus learned that CIA
contractors and agents were operating in the country
without the ISI’s knowledge.

The ISI was caught in a cleft stick when Osama bin Laden
was found to be living in Abbottabad for over five years —
and in Pakistan for even longer. The May 2 American
commando raid placed the ISI in an untenable position:
either it knew about the Al Qaeda chief’s presence and had
concealed it from the Americans, or it had no idea about
it. So it was either complicit or inept.

In the event, the ISI pleaded ignorance, but such is its
reputation for duplicity abroad that to this day, many
people continue to believe that it had sheltered Bin Laden
all along. Personally, knowing the agency’s abysmal track
record in its primary function of intelligence-gathering
and analysis, I was sure that it genuinely had no idea that
the world’s most-wanted terrorist was living in the shadow
of the country’s premier military academy in Abbottabad, a
major garrison town.

Then there was the kidnapping, torture and murder of Saleem
Shahzad. Although the intelligence apparatus has always
denied any involvement, the journalist’s earlier
allegations about threats he had received have made it
suspect. Meanwhile, allegations of double dealing with
extremist groups have further tarnished its image.
Currently, the bizarre memogate scandal in which Mansoor
Ijaz, once the ISI’s fiercest critic, has made allegations
implicating the president in a bid to seek American support
to block a feared army coup is occupying the limelight.

Both the army chief and the head of the ISI, Gen Pasha,
insisted on a very public enquiry, aided and abetted by
Nawaz Sharif who filed a petition before the Supreme Court,
asking for a judicial probe. The resultant commission has
not exactly set the Indus on fire with its findings thus
far.

Indeed, the early enthusiasm seems to have faded, together
with whatever credibility Mansoor Ijaz had to begin with.
Increasingly, the whole thing smacked of a deliberate
attempt to destabilise the government before the recent
Senate elections. In any case, the ISI has not emerged with
much glory from this latest confrontation with an elected
government.

By the very nature of their work, intelligence agencies
generally stay out of the spotlight. However, by constantly
dabbling in domestic politics, it was inevitable that the
ISI would feature largely in the media, and now finds
itself in the dock. The days when it could bully and bribe
the media into silence are long gone.

But perhaps some good will come from this series of
disasters that have befallen the ISI. Maybe there will be
an internal review of the agency’s role. There needs to be
a realisation that it cannot simultaneously be a covert
organisation devoted to internal and external military
intelligence, as well as a political player.

More important is the need to establish political control
over the ISI. When this government tried to place the ISI
under the interior ministry, its ill-judged attempt was
quickly rebuffed. But now, the top military and civilian
leadership ought to sit down, out of the glare of
publicity, and hammer out a new charter for the ISI, MI and
IB.

Currently, there is no oversight over the ISI’s budget.
Similarly, there is minimum information on military
expenditure in the national budget. There is no
parliamentary debate on the country’s largest single
expenditure. Clearly, this needs to change, and our defence
forces ought to justify their budgetary proposals to our
elected representatives.

These suggestions need not alarm our generals. Given the
propensity of our politicians to roll over before them, it
is unlikely that their budgetary requests will be denied by
the National Assembly. Let us not forget that when the ISI
chief appeared before parliament in the wake of the
Abbottabad raid, no politician had any words of criticism.

In an act of rage and frustration, the ISI has levelled
Osama bin Laden’s house as if its demolition will erase its
shame. And bizarrely, it has charged the dead terrorist’s
widows and children with illegal entry into Pakistan. It’s
a pity they couldn’t have included Bin Laden in this charge
while he was still alive.

The writer is the author of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan,
Islam and the West.

irfan.husain@gmail.com

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DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS*DWS
*DWS
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