dawn magazine 04 march 2012 by muaz007

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

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                         C O N T E N T S


+ Three FC men shot dead after ‘BLA court’ verdict
+ Sherpao survives suicide attack; policeman, girl die
+ Bombs, mines seized in Chaman
+ No interim set-up coming, says PM
+ Request for Musharraf’s arrest sent to Interpol
+ Adiyala men ‘validly’ kept in detention centre: board
+ Nawaz, Shujaat ask each other to apologise for supporting
+ Karzai acted against separatists: Malik: Afghan camps for
Baloch militants shut
+ Tarbela may reach ‘dead level’ in two days
+ PML-N set to get opposition leader’s post in Senate
+ DSP among three hurt in attack
+ Allies wrangle over top Senate posts
+ DCO of Gwadar Dashti killed in Karachi
+ Doctrine of necessity buried, says SC
+ All options on table to end energy crisis: Khar
+ Nawaz against another term for Gen Pasha
+ Ex-secretary assails ‘attempts to subjugate’ poll
+ PPP dissects Senate loss, forms committee
+ Plea for second FIR in Benazir assassination case:
Summons be pasted on Musharraf house: SC
+ Abdali Missile tested
+ Irsa plans to distribute water amid shortage
+ Army has its eye on NATO supplies deal
+ Sahiwal girl suffers acid attack
+ BNP-A joins race for Senate post
+ Desecration of Quran condemned
+ EC official’s resignation letter attempt to malign court:
+ The NLC-railways deal
+ Govt, Nepra at loggerheads over tariff hike
+ Committee investigating Gill’s defeat seeks help of
+ Old friend blamed for Gwadar DC’s murder
+ Gen Mattis coming for talks on reopening of NATO routes
+ By-election result cancelled: Poll commission slaps 2-
year ban on Waheeda
+ Senate voices concern for the missing
+ Supplies to 4 fertiliser plants partially restored: Gas
woes may worsen in coming years: officials
+ Nargis Sethi faces tough questions in court
+ Three labourers gunned down
+ CM terms EC’s verdict ‘strange’
+ Counsel wants heart specialist to treat accused: Judge
hearing brigadier case changed
+ VC held by Taliban seeks govt help
+ Umrani’s relative kidnapped
+ Pakistan’s importance in peace efforts stressed
+ Younus Habib says money arranged at behest of Ghulam
Ishaq, Aslam Beg: Rs340m lavished in ‘national interest’
+ SC gives March 21 deadline to PM for writing Swiss letter
+ Baloch leaders in no mood to accept talks offer
+ Massive power rate hike on the cards
+ SC to frame charges of contempt against Awan
+ Strike in T.M. Khan against Waheeda’s disqualification
+ Senate gets new rules of business
+ Do more mantra doesn’t go down well in Pakistan: envoy
+ Biggest solar storm in years hits Earth
+ Storm may intensify, says Suparco
+ CM assails workers’ Murder
+ Law urged to resolve missing persons issue
+ Gilani asks Malik to visit Balochistan
+ Osama’s widows booked for illegal stay
+ Gen Zahir to replace Pasha in ISI
+ Foreigners among 19 killed in drone attacks
+ Hearings to focus on roles of Aslam Beg, Asad Durrani: SC
+ Mehrangate ‘stars’ refute each other
+ Baloch separatists not to be backed, Pakistan assured
+ Zardari calls joint session on 17th
+ Conspiracy under way to promote secession: Jamali
+ Kharif crops face serious water shortfall
+ Pasha’s exit a relief for US intelligence community, say


+   Senate elections
+   Inflationary trends
+   Flawed legal system
+   No reason to celebrate
+   Enter the VHP
+   Water mismanagement
+   Muzaffargarh horror
+   State of dereliction
+   Fata militancy
+   Ex-secretary’s complaint
+   Damage to wetlands
+   NLC contract
+   Dengue threat
+   Curbing honour crimes
+   Workers’ rights bill
+   After the withdrawal
+   Waheeda Shah ban
+   Open secret exposed
+   Balochistan talks
+   Walled City Authority


+   Smokers’ Corner: A PU election
+   The unexpected calm
+   Do we know what we’re doing?
+   A Pakistani modernity
+   Tears of a Russian clown
+   Has Rahul learnt his lesson?
+   Welcome to 1984

                   N A T I O N A L N E W S


04, March, 2012


Three FC men shot dead after ‘BLA court’ verdict


By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, March 3: Bullet-riddled bodies of three missing
Frontier Corps personnel were found near Machh town, some
70km east of Quetta, on Saturday, officials said.

The personnel went missing after militants attacked four FC
check-posts in Margat coalmines area of Machh last month,
killing over a dozen security men and injuring several

The militants also ambushed FC personnel when they were
coming to Margat after receiving information about the
attack on check-posts. The militants later claimed to have
kidnapped three members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.
The FC officials had confirmed that three of their men were

A spokesman for the BLA informed media personnel that an
‘investigation’ against the FC men had found them involved
in the torture of Baloch militants and therefore “the BLA
court awarded death sentence to them”.

After they received information about the presence of three
bodies near a hotel in Machh on Saturday evening, the
Levies personnel rushed to the place and took the bodies to
hospital where the FC officials recognised them.

The three were identified as Lance Naik Mohammad Yousuf,
Lance Naik Tosiq and Sepoy Rashid Ali.

“Multiple bullet wounds were visible on the bodies of the
FC personnel,” Assistant Commissioner Machh Atiqur Rehman
said, adding that the bodies were handed over to the FC


04, March, 2012


Sherpao survives suicide attack; policeman, girl die

By Faiz Muhammad

CHARSADDA, March 3: A policeman and a little girl were
killed when a suicide bomber attacked the motorcade of
former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao near Kangra
village on Saturday soon after he left the venue of a
public meeting in nearby Battgram village of Shabqadar

A member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and six other
people were injured in the bombing.

Mr Sherpao, who is chief of the PPP-S and a member of the
National Assembly, and his son Sikander Sherpao, member of
the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, narrowly survived the
attack as the explosion badly damaged their Land Cruiser.

The dead policeman was identified as Shabir Khan and the
five-year girl was the daughter of Syed Ahmad Shah.

Mohammad Ali Khan, an MPA who hails from the same area,
received injuries but doctors at the Lady Reading Hospital
in Peshawar said his condition was stable.

Sikander Sherpao got a slight injury on his hand and leg.

An official of the bomb disposal squad said the bomber,
wearing a suicide jacket, carried about 5kg of explosive
material. He said police took a part of the head and two
legs of the bomber into its possession.

“I saw a young man in a shawl rushing towards the vehicle
of Sherpao Khan. Soon I heard a deafening sound as the man
exploded himself,” said Said Gul, another policeman
accompanying the convoy of Mr Sherpao. He said the limbs of
the bomber were scattered all around.

He said Mr Sherpao, Sikander and Mohammad Ali were in the
same vehicle and they had travelled around two to three
kilometres when the bomber struck.

Mr Sherpao rushed to Lady Reading Hospital from where they
left for their residence.

“These things are part of our life and we can’t be cowed
down with them,” said a perturbed Mr Sherpao, while leaving
the hospital. He said it was a suicide attack.
The PPP-S leader   was reluctant to leave the injured, but
federal minister   Arbab Alamgir, provincial minister Bashir
Ahmad Bilour and   provincial police officer Akber Khan Hoti
persuaded him to   leave the hospital.

Capital city police chief Imtiaz Altaf, Charsadda district
police officer Nisar Khan Marwat and other police high-ups
reached the blast site.

Police launched a search operation.A spokesman of Tehrik-i-
Taliban Pakistan, Mohmand Agency, Mukaram Khurasani,
claimed responsibility for the attack. “Khurasani said that
Mr Sherpao had supported operations in the agency,” said a
media person who had received a phone call from him.

Mr Sherpao and his son had survived two devastating suicide
blasts in 2007 in their native Charsadda district.


04, March, 2012


Bombs, mines seized in Chaman


CHAMAN, March 3: The Levies Force recovered a big cache of
explosives on Saturday from a timber-laden truck after it

The catch yielded bombs, landmines, three anti-aircraft
guns, bomb-making material and wireless sets.

According to Levies officials, the truck was going to
Quetta when its tie rod snapped.

The driver and the cleaner escaped after the truck

Security agencies cordoned off the area and started an
operation to catch the driver and the cleaner.
The weapons and explosives material were taken under the
control of police. —APP


04, February, 2012


No interim set-up coming, says PM


By Our Staff Correspondent

MULTAN, March 3: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on
Saturday came out with an uncharacteristic play on words,
confidently shrugging aside talk of a “caretaker or chair-
taker set-up” in the country.

An enigmatic remark followed the pun: “The prime minister
will not be jailed.”

And Mr Gilani topped it off with a loaded allusion: “I will
stay here as no prime minister will come from abroad and no
prime minister will go abroad illegally and

The prime minister made the puzzling comments in reply to
reporters’ questions about early elections after the
inauguration of the Pakistan Air University’s Multan

He said any decision regarding a date for the next general
election would be made in consultation with coalition

The government would provide relief to the nation in the
next budget, Mr Gilani added.

He said the demands for Bahawalpur, Thal and Hazara
provinces were a conspiracy against people of the Seraiki
belt. “The demand for a Seraiki province is not mine. It’s
an aspiration of the people of this belt and no conspiracy
will be allowed to spoil the plan.”

He said the Senate elections were held smoothly on schedule
and the government would now present its fifth budget in
May. “It will be the first elected government in the
country that will present the fifth budget.”

“Several predictions had been made in the past about demise
of the government, but all of them turned out to be wrong.
The Senate elections have belied another prediction,” he

In an attempt to put at rest apprehensions in the media
that the government was contemplating imposing curbs, he
said “we are not going to impose any restriction”. The
government had passed an information law to strengthen
democracy and the media also benefited from it, the premier

In reply to a question about relations with the United
States, Mr Gilani said there had been ups and downs in
bilateral relations, but Pakistan would not come under US
pressure over the gas pipeline deal with Iran.

Justifying the increase in petrol prices, the prime
minister said the decision had been taken after jumps in
the international market.

Earlier, he said at the ceremony the government was
focusing on quality of education as he believes that the
education system would have to establish keeping in view
challenges of globalisation. He said the campus of the Air
University in Multan was a fulfillment of his desire.

Broadband infrastructure was being established across the
country and union councils would have information centres
to make the dream of connecting the entire rural populace
with the world at large, Mr Gilani said.

Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman, Higher Education Commission
chief Javed Leghari and the Air University’s Vice
Chancellor, Ijaz Ahmed Malik, also attended the ceremony.

04, March, 2012


Request for Musharraf’s arrest sent to Interpol


By Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD, March 3: The ministry of interior has forwarded
a formal request to the France-based Interpol secretariat
for the issuance of “red warrants” against former president
and army chief Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf as well as for
his arrest and extradition to Pakistan.

Sources in the ministry told Dawn that the request had been
sent to Interpol through its representative in Pakistan.
The FIA’s senior public prosecutor, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali,
said on Saturday that earlier a letter had been sent to the
director of Interpol (Pakistan) by the investigation
officer in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

It said Gen Musharraf was an accused in the case. The
officer also handed over to the Interpol director the
investigation reports, copies of statements by then
director-general of ISI’s counter-intelligence wing Javed
Iqbal Cheema and the former director general of
Intelligence Bureau, Ejaz Shah, US-based journalist Marc
Siegel’s email to Benazir Bhutto and copies of the orders
issued by the anti-terrorism court.

The letter sent through email to the Interpol Pakistan on
Feb 2 said: “Secretary General of Interpol Secretariat Lyon
(France) is requested to issue ‘red warrants’ for Pervez
Musharraf, former president of Pakistan, and arrest him
through Interpol. A copy of red notice may please be
furnished to this ministry.”

The email also mentioned the computerised national identity
card (CNIC) number of the former president.

In minor cases, Mr Ali said, countries generally took a
lenient view even after the issuance of red warrants and
avoided extraditing the accused.
But in cases relating to terrorism and murder, governments
assist each other, he added.

Since the BB assassination case has been registered under
section 302 of PPC (relating to murder) and sections 7 and
21 of ATA (serious offences of terrorism), Pakistan is
expecting an immediate and positive response to the request
for the arrest of the former president.

But Ahmer Bilal Sufi, an expert of international law, said
that a red warrant was not a replacement of extradition
arrangements. “It is only an intimation of ‘wanted man’ of
a country to other countries.”

For example, he said, since there was no extradition treaty
between Pakistan and the UK, the latter was not legally
bound to extradite anybody, including Gen Musharraf, even
if the Interpol issued red warrants for him.


04, February, 2012


Adiyala men ‘validly’ kept in detention centre: board


By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 3: An oversight board set up under the
Actions (In Aid of Civil Power) Regulation 2011 for Fata
has said in its report that seven of the 11 surviving
prisoners, who went missing from outside the Adiyala Jail
and were produced before the Supreme Court last month, have
validly been detained in Peshawar’s internment centre for
their involvement in sabotage and terrorism activities.

The report on the missing prisoners’ case, submitted by
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir to the
Supreme Court and available with Dawn, said the internees
were accused of having criminal background, sabotage
training and affiliation with terrorist groups.
The Actions Regulation 2011 gives the military sweeping
powers to detain anyone for an indefinite period during
counter-terrorism operations in Fata.

The prisoners, Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mazharul Haq, Shafiqur
Rehman, Abdul Basit, Abdus Saboor, Abdul Majid, Muhammad
Amir Khan, Muhammad Shafique aka Maaz, Tehseenullah, Said
Arab aka Tariq, Gul Roze Khan aka Farman, mysteriously went
missing from outside the jail on May 29, 2010, the day they
had been acquitted of terrorism charges for their alleged
involvement in Oct 2009 attacks on GHQ and ISI’s Hamza Camp
in Rawalpindi. Four of them —Amir, Saboor, Said Arab and
Tehseenullah — have died in custody.

The rest of the seven suspects   were produced before the
apex court on Feb 13 in a very   bad shape in compliance with
an earlier order on a petition   of Ms Ruhaifa, mother of
civilians Abdus Saboor (dead),   Abdul Basit and Abdul Majid.

Ms Ruhaifa died of heart attack hours after seeing her two
ailing sons at the Supreme Court.

According to the oversight board, the detainees were
arrested by the ISI’s field operators on Nov 25, 2010, in
Lawara Mela area of Orakzai Agency. They are also facing
charges of attacking a convoy of II Wing Dir Scouts in
Srmalo Mela (Fata). They were carrying explosives,
Kalashnikovs, magazines and hand-grenades.

But almost all of them told Dawn after the Feb 13 court
hearing that they still had no idea why they had been kept
in detention as they had never been interrogated or charged
with any crime.

The board said Mazharul Haq was a highly-trained person
having the ability to launch attacks on sensitive military
and civilian installations. He was carrying two suicide
jackets at the time of arrest. He also fought with the Al-
Badar group in Khost, Afghanistan, and underwent training
in Wana, South Waziristan.

The report claimed that the internee also visited Haqqani
Madressah in Miramshah in Oct 2010 and was the main planner
of the GHQ and Hamza Camp attacks.

The report said Shafiqur Rehman had been trained by
Harkatul Mujahideen in 1999. He joined the Haqqani group in
Miramshah in 2007 to fight against security forces in Fata.
According to the report, he confessed to have taken
Rs80,000 from Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US
drone attack, as expenses for carrying a suicide bomber
from Makin to Rawalpindi. He was also running terrorist
groups and networks.

About Mohammad Shafique, the report said he had got
training in Miramshah for 20 days, along with 10 other
students. He went to Paktia and stayed there for 50 days
during which he ambushed a convoy and destroyed two

Shafique joined the Haqqani group after return from Paktia
and attacked government and military installations.

The oversight board said Dr Niaz Ahmed belonged to the Lal
Masjid (Red Mosque) group and allegedly was the mastermind
of attacks on the Hamza Camp and the GHQ. He visited the
Haqqani Madressah in Miramshah in Oct 2010. “He is an
educated person and has the ability to influence other
persons to carry out terrorist activities in the name of
‘Jihad’. He is capable of running terrorist groups and
networks,” the report said.

According to the board, Gul Roze got training for a month,
along with Maulvi Nazir, a North Waziristan-based militant

Abdul Basit and Abdul Majid were religiously motivated and
targeted a military convoy, the report claimed.

The report concluded that the proceedings against all the
interned persons were in conformity with Section 9 of the


05, March, 2012


Nawaz, Shujaat ask each other to apologise for supporting

By Zulqernain Tahir

LAHORE, March 4: PML-N president Nawaz Sharif has said his
party is ready to shake hands with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat
if they apologise to the nation for having supported
dictatorship and pledge never to do it again.

“We will welcome the Chaudhry brothers (Shujaat Hussain and
Pervaiz Elahi) if they promise not to support dictatorship
in future, besides apologising to the nation (for
supporting Gen Musharraf),” Mr Sharif said while responding
to a question at a press conference at his Raiwind
residence where PML-Q’s former MNA Marvi Memon joined the

“Even today some politicians are pursuing the politics of
the establishment,” he said in an obvious reference to
people who have joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-

The PML-N also asked the Chaudhry brothers to part ways
with the PPP government and pave the way for a ‘new
coalition’ to replace Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“Apart from Nawaz Sharif’s offer, if the PML-Q quits the
PPP-led coalition government we can form a new coalition to
replace the existing set-up. And the new prime minister
will certainly write a letter to the Swiss authorities to
reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari,” PML-N
Senator Pervaiz Rashid said.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Rashid said that besides tendering
‘apology’ the politicians who had supported dictatorships
in the past would also have to pledge that they would never
do it again.

To a question about PML-Functional leader Makhdoom Ahmad
Mehmood’s efforts to bridge the divide between the Sharifs
and the Chaudhrys in view of the changing political
scenario, Mr Rashid said: “Mr Mehmood’s efforts will only
bear fruit if they (Chaudhrys) accept our offer.”

Responding to the PML-N’s demand, PML-Q chief Chaudhry
Shujaat Hussain hit back at Mr Sharif and said he himself
should apologise to the nation for the ‘sin’ he had
committed 25 years ago by inviting a dictator (Gen Ziaul
Haq) to the Punjab Assembly to address legislators. “Nawaz
Sharif should better first seek apology (from the nation)
then demand the same from us,” he said, adding that the
PML-Q could not join hands with the PML-N ‘only for the
sake of power’.

But Chaudhry Shujaat added: “There is neither any point of
no return nor a last word in politics.”

MPA Moonis Elahi, son of former chief minister Pervaiz
Elahi, told Dawn that the PML-N leadership had in fact
ditched the PML after striking a ‘deal’ (exile to Saudi
Arabia) with Gen Musharraf. The PML-Q, he said, had been
asked to quit the PPP government as a condition for an
alliance with the PML-N. “But unless the Sharifs apologise
for having betrayed the PML and promise that they will not
do it again there is no point in starting parleys to
explore the possibility of PML’s merger,” Moonis Elahi


05, March, 2012


Karzai acted against separatists: Malik : Afghan camps for
Baloch militants shut


By Kalbe Ali

ISLAMABAD, March 4: Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on
Sunday that Afghanistan had closed the training camps of
Baloch separatists in that country, adding that this was
done at the intervention of Afghan President Hamid Karzai
who had admitted recently that some of the troubles in
Balochistan were originating from his country.

“After we approached the honourable President of
Afghanistan with facts and figures he was kind enough to
look into the matter by promising to stop infiltration of
miscreants from his side of the border,” the interior
minister told newsmen during a visit to the National Press

During his recent visit to Islamabad President Karzai was
informed about infiltration of militants into Balochistan.
Mr Malik said “President Karzai had promised to stop the
infiltration from Kandahar into Balochistan”. And now Kabul
has formally given an assurance that infiltration of
militants into the border town of Chaman will be stopped.

The minister said: “There was a training camp of 5,000
people in Kandahar but it has been dismantled now and its
operators have moved out of the area.”

He said the Afghan government had promised that insurgents
would not be allowed to operate in Pakistan from
Afghanistan. “We are monitoring the situation and those
playing in the hands of foreign forces to destabilise the
country will not be spared.”

At the same time, he said, the government was creating an
environment conducive for talks with disgruntled Baloch

Mr Malik said that 135 cases had been registered against
Baloch nationalists, but a number of cases were withdrawn
when the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan Package was launched
and the process to quash the remaining cases was under way.

He said the interior ministry had written a letter to the
Balochistan chief secretary to withdraw the cases.

“The relevant letters must have been dispatched to the
commissioners for withdrawal of politically-motivated
cases,” he said. “However, the cases filed by private
citizens and families of a deceased will have to be settled
in court.”

The minister said all disgruntled Baloch leaders would be
welcome in Pakistan and he himself would receive them at
the airport.

Mr Malik said that although the phenomenon of missing
persons was a serious issue, it had been blown out of
He offered an in-camera briefing on the matter to a group
of media persons.

“However, speaking on record I want to tell everybody that
6,000 persons had gone missing initially but now the Chief
Minister’s office has estimated that around 800 were
missing after some progress has been made on the issue. The
Balochistan Liberation Army claims that 900 persons are
missing and the list compiled at the Supreme Court
indicates that 400 persons are missing.

The minister said two judicial commissions had been
established, one said that 48 persons were missing while
the other was still to complete the inquiry.

VISA TO US CITIZENS: The minister said Pakistan would not
extend visas to American citizens without solid reasons.

“No American citizen will be allowed to enter Pakistan
without valid documents. They will get entry only after
receiving permission from the ministry of interior and
Foreign Office. Anybody with an expired visa is not allowed
to enter the country.”

He said the interior ministry had been keeping a check on
private security firms since 2008. “Their NoCs are being
verified for better security and a strict code for their
uniforms is being enforced.”

Mr Malik said strict monitoring of private security
agencies was needed because many robberies and other
criminal acts had reportedly been committed by their


05, March, 2012


Tarbela may reach ‘dead level’ in two days

By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD, March 4: The Tarbela dam is estimated to touch
its ‘dead level’ in about two days because of substantial
and unaccounted for discharge of water in recent weeks.

This means there will be no carryover stock of water for
the upcoming Rabi season and that generation of electricity
at the dam will be adversely affected in the coming days,
according to an official.

The crops in the current Kharif season will, however, not
be affected.

The official said that about 1.5 million acre feet (MAF) of
water remained unaccounted for during the ongoing season,
either because of losses or undocumented releases by Wapda
for power generation.

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had estimated
recently that it would be able to carry forward about 1.5
MAF of water for the Rabi season beginning next month, but
a fresh stocktaking suggested that the available stock
would not last beyond March 7, said the official.

According to him, the water already released in the
irrigation system will be sufficient to meet the crop
watering requirements of the provinces till March 15. As a
routine, water releases for Kharif crops are stopped about
a month before the harvesting activity.

The harvesting of major crops in Kharif season generally
starts by the end of March every year.

So, the irrigation activities will not be affected.
However, generation of electricity at the 3,600MW Tarbela
power station will almost grind to a halt.

At present, Irsa is releasing about 45,000 cusecs from the
dam against an inflow of about 18,000 cusecs.

The inflow to Tarbela had come down to less than 8,000
cusecs about a week ago, but improved to 33,000 cusecs
after additional releases from the Attabad lake, before
stabilising at about 18,000 cusecs. The situation at Mangla
dam is quite satisfactory even though Jhelum flow has come
down to about 6,000 cusecs against outflow from the dam of
about 35,000 cusecs.

The water level at Mangla currently stands at about 1,085
feet against its ‘dead level’ of about 1,040 feet.


05, March, 2012


PML-N set to get opposition leader’s post in Senate


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, March 4: After becoming the single largest
opposition party with 14 senators, the PML-N looks set to
get the office of the opposition leader in the upper house.
This will also end its tussle with the JUI-F on the issue.

PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is leader of the
opposition in the National Assembly and now Ishaq Dar, the
party’s parliamentary leader in the Senate, who has
returned unopposed on a technocrat seat from Punjab, will
get the office in the upper house.

“We have already sent a letter to the Senate secretariat
informing it that Ishaq Dar will be our parliamentary
leader when the new Senate will meet on March 12,” said
PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Mr Rashid said Mr Dar had
previously been nominated by the party for the office and
he would again be the party’s nominee for the post.

He regretted that Senate Chairman Farooq H. Naek had
appointed JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri as the
leader of opposition with a controversial decision that
pitted the PML-N and the JUI-F against each other.
The chairman’s June 6 decision of appointing Maulana
Haideri to replace PML-Q’s Wasim Sajjad marred the budget
session after

a 24-member group led by Senator Dar boycotted the budget
debate and also the proceedings of the house standing
committee on finance which prepared budget recommendations
for submission to the National Assembly.

Soon after the office of the opposition leader fell vacant
in May after the PML-Q’s decision to join the ruling
coalition, both Maulana Haideri and Ishaq Dar staked their
claims for the office.

The JUI-F, which was the largest opposition group with 10
senators, had submitted an application with the signatures
of 11 members supporting Maulana Haideri whereas PML-N’s
Ishaq Dar had submitted a similar application with the
support of 24 senators belonging to the two splinter groups
of the PML-Q, PML-N, PPP-Sherpao, Jamaat-i-Islami, National
Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.

The JUI-F, however, later managed to grab the office when
they submitted a new application which carried signatures
of five independents from Fata and two from Balochistan.
Moreover, the number of JUI-F leader’s supporters increased
when the Senate chairman nullified the votes of nine PML-Q
dissidents who had decided to sit on the opposition benches
although the party had joined the PPP-led ruling coalition.

The boycott of a large number of opposition members forced
the chairman to agree on a review of the decision, but only
after listening to both sides.

But after a legal and technical debate, the chairman upheld
his previous decision. Members of the Dar group threatened
to take the matter to the Supreme Court, but eventually
dropped the idea.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the PML-N was all set to
challenge the chairman’s ruling before the court but
decided against it after the idea was opposed by some
members of the group.

After the March 2 Senate elections, the JUI-F’s strength
has fallen to seven from 10, whereas the PML-N has doubled
its tally from seven to 14.
Since all the PML-Q dissidents and members of other smaller
parties backing Mr Dar are retiring on March 11, the PML-N
now faces no challenge from the seven-member JUI-F and one
member National Party left on the opposition benches in the
new Senate.


05, March, 2012


DSP among three hurt in attack


By Irfan Mughal

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, March 4: A deputy superintendent of
police and two guards were wounded when a suicide bomber
attacked their vehicle here on Sunday night, officials

DPO Suhail Khalid told Dawn that a suicide bomber, hiding
in a street, ran towards the police vehicle and detonated
explosives strapped to his body when the vehicle reached
Bazaar Misgran in Dera city.

The official said that DSP headquarters Abdul Ghafoor and
two guards suffered critical injuries and their vehicle was

The injured were taken to the DHQ hospital Dera.


06, March, 2012


Allies wrangle over top Senate posts

By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD, March 5: As the Senate polls are over, attention
is now focused on the two most important posts in the upper
house. A heated debate has started on whether or not the
current chairman will be retained and who will be awarded
the coveted seat of deputy chairman of the upper house.

These pressing issues were the subject matter of a meeting
of coalition partners in the presidency that was chaired by
President Zardari. Surprisingly Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani was not present on the occasion.

Amid a tug-of-war over key posts in the upper house -- not
only among the coalition partners but within the Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP) -- the ruling party leadership in the
meeting considered the option of replacing incumbent Senate
chairman Farooq Naek.

“The option of replacing Mr Naek was discussed but no other
name for the slot came up,” a senior leader of the PPP told
Dawn on condition of anonymity after the meeting of the
party leadership in the presidency that was held before the
session with the coalition partners.

A source in the PPP said President Zardari told the
participants of the core committee that he was considering
giving some other assignment to Mr Naek who had already
served as federal minister for law.

However, observers point out that the president may find it
difficult to find someone as loyal to him as Mr Naek for
the post of chairman. Another reason why it may prove
difficult to replace Mr Naek is because the moment the post
of chairman is vacant, it would be expected that senior
leaders such as Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani would be
considered for it and neither of these men can be seen to
be a close confidant of the president. This is why it may
prove easier for the president to leave the incumbent
chairman in place.

New chairman Senate and deputy chairman will take oath on
March 12.
The post of deputy chairman, on the other hand, is already
being eyed by the various allies of the PPP including the
PML-Q and the ANP. This interest in the post is bound to
give the president some headache.

ANP leader Zahid Khan said his party had not made any
demand for the slot of deputy chairman Senate. “However,
being the second largest party in the ruling coalition it
is our desire that we get the post,” he said.

He said the ANP did not want any confrontation with its
allies on the issue. “Our relations with coalition partners
will remain the same even if our desire is not fulfilled,”
he said.

Media reports said the ANP had demanded the office of
deputy chairman Senate and chairmanship of at least six
standing committees of the upper house.

PML-Q leader Mushahid Hussain told Dawn that his party
would not insist on any post in the Senate and would accept
any consensus decision taken by the coalition.

The meeting was attended by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain,
Asfandyar Wali Khan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Afrasiab
Khattak, Farooq Sattar, Babar Khan Ghauri, Munir Khan
Orakzai and Noor-ul-Haq Qadri.

PPP leaders Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Naveed Qamar, Raja
Pervez Ashraf and Farhatullah Babar were also present.

President’s Spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the meeting
had discussed the overall political situation in the
country with particular reference to the situation against
the backdrop of Senate election and other coalition
matters. Heads of allied parties, he said, congratulated
the president for the smooth holding of the Senate
elections and also for the thumping majority secured by the
coalition parties in the upper house of parliament. They
also thanked the president for PPP’s support to coalition
parties in the Senate elections.

He said the president appreciated the role of the allied
parties in strengthening democracy and democratic
The spokesman quoted the president as saying: “The policy
of reconciliation strengthened political forces which was
necessary for strengthening the democracy itself.”

He expressed satisfaction that with the help of coalition
partners the government had achieved the distinction of
holding two consecutive Senate elections during its tenure,
despite numerous challenges that it faced.


06, March, 2012


DCO of Gwadar Dashti killed in Karachi


By S. Raza Hasan

KARACHI, March 5: The District Coordination Officer of
Gwadar was killed in Karachi on Monday night. The body of
Abdul Rehman Dashti was found in a car in the DHA.

SSP Naeem Shaikh said the DCO appeared to have been killed
in a house. His body was later placed in a car which was
abandoned in Khayaban-i-Tanzeem not far from there. The
car’s green registration plate had Balochistan number.

Blood stains and spent bullet casings, SSP Sheikh said, had
been found in the house which belonged to Mir Imam Bizenjo,
a political personality from Turbat.

Two employees of the house have been detained by police.

According to police, initial reports suggested that the DCO
had come to Karachi to attend a meeting.

The reason for his presence in the house was not known and
it was also not clear if he had been invited there.

06, March, 2012


Doctrine of necessity buried, says SC


By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 5: Deciding cases on the basis of likely
consequences will mean reverting to the malignant ‘doctrine
of necessity’ that has been buried by the people with their
valiant struggle, the Supreme Court said on Monday in its
detailed judgment on the prime minister’s appeal in the
contempt case.

Giving reasons for rejecting the plea, the 15-page judgment
authored by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja referred to the
concern of the prime minister’s counsel Barrister Aitzaz
Ahsan who had said in his arguments in the intra-court
appeal that the stability of the democratic system “may
depend on the outcome of this case”.

On Feb 10 an eight-judge bench headed by Chief Justice
Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had dismissed the appeal against
the summoning of the prime minister in the contempt case.

“The court can only strengthen the rule of law by upholding
the Constitution,” the detailed judgment said.

The court said the defence argument like the act of
contempt, if any, was not ‘wilful’ and that the prime
minister was only acting on official summaries he had
received in accordance with the rules required appraisal of
evidence and should be left for adjudication by the trial

From the facts available on record, it was amply clear that
a case of contempt did exist against the prime minister
since he had not implemented directives issued in the NRO
“It is now up to the prime minister to present evidence and
legal reasons to show how, if at all, the preliminary
impression is unfounded.”

The judgment said that all people, regardless of their
stature in society, were equally bound by the law and were
expected to obey court orders and the possibility of
contempt being committed by a constitutional functionary
was a more serious matter than if the same had been done by
an ordinary citizen.

It said the Constitution was based on the principle of
equality before law and officials were required to
diligently and faithfully serve the people and not to rule
over them with impunity.

Justice Khawaja said all constitutional officers held their
offices only as a trust for the general public.

“This is why all constitutional functionaries are required
to take an oath promising adherence to the Constitution and
the law.

“In Article 190, they have also been expressly obliged to
act in aid of the Supreme Court and if constitutional
functionaries do not show such obedience, they can be seen
as have violated the trust reposed in them by the public.

“It is to take stock of such violations of public trust and
not because of any egoistic reasons that courts are obliged
to proceed against violators — a possibility contemplated
in Article 204,” the judgment said.


06, March, 2012


All options on table to end energy crisis: Khar


By Our Staff Correspondent
MULTAN, March 5: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said
here on Monday that Pakistan would avail itself of all
available opportunities, including the Iran gas pipeline
project, to overcome its energy crisis.

Ms Khar, who was addressing a press conference, said
Pakistan would not depend on any one solution but would
also pursue the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas
pipeline project, besides the Iran gas.

Answering a question about US concerns over the Pak-Iran
pipeline project, she said “we cannot be selective in this
regard and we will complete this project to overcome the
energy crisis.”

The minister said a new era of trust had begun in ties with
India and an uninterrupted dialogue had improved the level
of confidence.

She said the process of dialogue had remained suspended for
a long time but now both countries realised that dialogue
was the only option.

She said the Amroka-Bhatinda railway section between India
and Pakistan would be restored if it was in the interest of
Pakistan and of people of the area.

Ms Khar said foreign policy of the PPP-led government was
based on developing friendly ties with all neighbouring
countries, including India, China, Iran and Afghanistan.
Close relations with these countries will help maintain
peace in the region.

She said the executive had handed over to parliament the
authority to devise foreign policy because the government
believed that the policy should have public ownership.

The key to restoration of NATO supplies was with parliament
which alone would take a decision about it, she added. The
decision will be taken in national interest.

Ms Khar said relations with the United States were of great
importance to Pakistan and were in its national interest,
but these should be based on mutual respect.
She said the NATO supplies by air had never been suspended.
Only the land supply route was closed in accordance with
parliament’s decision.

“Pakistan wants stability in the region and does not want
to create hurdles for forces of 40 countries in
Afghanistan.” It was also in our interest, she said.

The NATO supply route was suspended in the best interest of
the country because it was necessary to react to the attack
on the Salala post.

She said Pakistan would support the dialogue between the US
and Afghan Taliban.When asked about the possibility of a US
attack on Iran, she said Pakistan had a clear stand on the
issue. A military intervention in the region is not

She said the recent visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai
to Pakistan was result-oriented and he admitted that
Pakistan had a very important role in the region.

She said Pakistan had suggested to the Afghan president to
initiate an intra-Afghan dialogue and extended its support
in this regard because stability in the region was also in
its own interest.


06, March, 2012


Nawaz against another term for Gen Pasha


By Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE, March 5: PML-N president Nawaz Sharif has
categorically stated that he is against giving extension in
service to ISI Director General Shuja Pasha.
Talking to journalists after offering fateha for Col Sheraz
who died in a terrorist attack in the Bara subdivision of
Khyber Agency, he said he would not say anything on the
matter because the residence of the late Colonel was not an
appropriate place to discuss such issues.

He said he was there to offer condolences to the family of
the army officer who had sacrificed his life for the

He, however, said the masses suffered whenever army
generals ventured into politics. Answering a question about
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s statement on the
Seraiki province, Mr Sharif said that the prime minister
should speak and act ‘responsibly’ on such issues.

Also on Monday, addressing a meeting of the general council
of Punjab PML-N, he said the time for change was not far
off. A revolutionary programme is being prepared to
transform the destiny of the country and bring prosperity
to people and raise their standard of living.

He said the PML-N would implement its agenda in cooperation
with the masses to project sovereignty of the country and
to give it a dignified status in the comity of nations.

Had the democratic governments been allowed to complete
their tenure, he said, the situation would have been
different from it was today.

He congratulated Shahbaz Sharif on his unopposed election
as president of PML-N Punjab and asked him to speed up work
on the party’s mission to serve people.

PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, Senator Ishaq Dar, Iqbal
Zafar Jhagra, Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Khosa, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Ahsan Iqbal, members of
national and provincial assemblies, provincial ministers,
members of the council from all over the province and a
large number of PML-N workers were present on the occasion.


06, March, 2012

Ex-secretary assails ‘attempts to subjugate’ poll


By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, March 5: In a hard-hitting eight-page
resignation letter submitted on March 1, Election
Commission’s secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan has criticised
‘unnamed’ institutions for their undue interference in the
affairs of the commission.

Although he did not name the institutions encroaching upon
the autonomy of the ECP, he made an indirect reference to
the commission’s recent face-off with the Supreme Court.

In the letter, a copy of which is with Dawn, Mr Khan said:
“Colossal damage was done to this great country in the past
as well by a few megalomaniacs having a false and
misconceived notion that they knew everything, that they
were the best judges as to what was good for this poor
nation, and the results are before our eyes all around us
jolting the foundation of the state.

“Attempts by one institution to encroach upon the domains
of other state institutions, in violation of clearly
defined roles laid down in the Constitution, will only lead
to disruption of the democratic system and chaos in

“The country cannot afford any such fresh adventurism in
some new garb and thus, the ECP must thwart all such
attempts to protect its independence and autonomy as
granted by the parliament through the Constitution.

“If one institution is to run all other institutions of the
state, then all others should be closed down so that
claiming to be all knowing and to be the latest breed of
people called ‘guardians’ should also assume responsibility
and account for the obvious and tragic consequences that
will naturally emanate from such adventurism.”
The letter with the subject, “calling it a day”, has been
addressed to the chief election commissioner and members of
the ECP. Copies of the letter have also been sent to the
principal secretary to the prime minister and the secretary
of establishment division.

Mr Khan hailed the performance of ECP and said: “Others
should take an objective look at their own performance in
terms of functions assigned to them by the Constitution as
to how much relief they have been able to provide to 180
million people of Pakistan. This sorry state of affairs
will continue until institutions keep on interfering in the
domains of others.”

The letter also referred to what it called maltreatment
regularly meted out to civil servants to satisfy the ego of
a few people. “There is a limit to everything after which
the helpless get together to protect themselves against the
insults and injustices because those supposed to provide
protection to civil servants have abdicated their role.”

Mr Khan said because of uncalled for incidents of
interference in the constitutional responsibilities of ECP
at behest of some vested interests and frequent use of
unjustified and derogatory remarks to belittle the
commission, “I feel that least I can do on my part is to
quit this job to register my protest against attempts being
made to subjugate the commission in order to deprive it of
its independence and autonomy granted by the parliament”.

He criticised the objections raised by other institutions
over the ECP’s interaction with parliamentary bodies and
said: “All over the world election management bodies
interact with parliamentary committees to bring about
improvement in electoral practices and to benefit from the
collective wisdom of the parliament. However, in Pakistan
this worldwide practice is not being respected which is a
violation of the Constitution.”

Mr Khan said: “Only democratic dispensation based on the
principles of separation of powers as envisaged in the
Constitution can ensure security, peace, progress and
better future for the homeland and the nation which have
already suffered a great deal and deserve mercy from all
kinds of adventurers.
“The ECP, on its part, must not let such attempts to
succeed, hoping other institutions might also follow suit.
All things are transitory; one must take a stand on
principles and then should be ready to pay the price and
sacrifice everything while fighting for a just and great

The Supreme Court’s January order for the ECP to postpone
the Feb 20 by-elections sparked a legal battle between the
two constitutional institutions.

On Jan 24, the Supreme Court, in its second clarification
issued within 24 hours, explained that it had a duty to
ensure that all organs of the state, including
constitutional offices and authorities, functioned in
accordance with the spirit of the law and the Constitution.

The court had issued the clarification to elucidate its
position on the statement by Chief Election Commissioner
Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza describing the court’s Jan
19 order as unconstitutional in which the ECP had been
directed not to hold by-elections on five National Assembly
and one provincial assembly seats on the basis of existing
voters’ list.


06, March, 2012


PPP dissects Senate loss, forms committee


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the core committee of the ruling
Pakistan People’s Party expressed concern on Monday over
the unexpected loss of a Senate seat in Punjab and formed a
committee to investigate the matter.

The committee headed by MNA Faryal Talpur will present its
report to the President within 24 hours.
The meeting at the Presidency was jointly presided over by
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza

 “The issue of loss of one seat from Punjab was discussed
in the meeting and it was decided that people responsible
for the setback would be taken to task,” PPP leader Fauzia
Wahab told Dawn.

It is learnt that President Zardari was of the view that
some members of the provincial assembly had defied the
party leadership in Senate polls.

It was due to the support of certain PPP MPAs that Mohsin
Leghari, an MPA of the Pakistan Muslim League (forward
bloc), got elected despite the limited strength of his
party in the Punjab Assembly, defeating PPP candidate Aslam

PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said the party
had given a mandate to the president to announce names of
the chairman and the deputy chairman of Senate in
consultation with coalition partners.

The President’s spokesman, Mr Farhatullah Babar, said the
meeting congratulated the party’s Co-Chairman, President
Asif Ali Zardari, and other leaders on the PPP emerging as
the largest party in Senate.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar briefed
the meeting on the energy situation in the country. The
meeting said that loadshedding was a serious issue creating
hardship for the people and called for stepping up efforts
to overcome the chronic energy shortage.

Interior Minister Rahman Malik briefed the meeting on the
overall law and order situation, with particular reference
to the situation in Balochistan and attack on buses in
Kohistan and killing of passengers.


06, March, 2012

Plea for second FIR in Benazir assassination case: Summons
be pasted on Musharraf house: SC


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 5: The Supreme Court hearing a plea for
registration of a second FIR in the Benazir Bhutto
assassination case ordered on Monday that a summons be
pasted on the wall of former president Gen (retd) Pervez
Musharraf’s residence in Islamabad.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice
Tariq Parvez said the move was aimed at informing the
retired general of the case that would be taken up again
after two weeks.

Mohammad Aslam Chaudhry, who filed the petition, is one of
the injured witnesses of a gun-and-bomb attack on the
former prime minister outside Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on
Dec 27, 2007. He served the slain PPP leader as protocol
officer for 21 years.

The petitioner had challenged the rejection by the Lahore
High Court of a plea for registration of the second FIR in
the case.

He had also sought the initiation of criminal proceedings
against Gen Musharraf and others for allegedly planning and
executing the plot to assassinate Ms Bhutto and named as
respondents former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez
Elahi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, former law minister
Babar Awan, then acting interior minister Lt-Gen (retd)
Hamid Nawaz, former director general of Intelligence Bureau
Syed Ijaz Hussain Shah, former interior secretary Syed
Kamal Shah and senior police officers of Rawalpindi.

Last week the government formally requested the Interpol to
issue ‘red warrants’ for the arrest and extradition to
Pakistan of Gen Musharraf, who is facing a case in an anti-
terrorism court for not providing adequate security to Ms
Bhutto. The ATC-III has already issued non-bailable
warrants for Gen Musharraf and declared him a proclaimed
On Monday, the apex court was informed that notices had
been sent to Gen Musharraf on the address available, but
the ‘server’s’ report suggested that he was living abroad.

The Punjab prosecutor general submitted a reply on behalf
of the city police officer (CPO) and district police
officer of Rawalpindi, opposing the registration of the
second FIR on the grounds that a challan had already been
submitted to the relevant court.

The court accepted a request of the Federal Investigation
Agency to become a party in the case.

The court asked Advocate Rasheed A. Razvi, the counsel for
Aslam Chaudhry, to furnish complete and correct address of
Babar Awan in two days and ordered that on its receipt the
process of issuing the notice be repeated.

The court said that since former CPO of Rawalpindi Saud
Aziz, then SSP (operations) Yasin Farooq and then SP of
Rawal Town Khurram Shahzad (respondents) belonged to the
police force, the inspector general of Punjab police would
ensure that notices were issued to them.


06, March, 2012


Abdali Missile tested


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 5: Pakistan military said on Monday it had
successfully test-fired a nuclear capable Abdali missile as
part of validation of its missile systems.

“Pakistan today successfully test-fired the short range
surface-to-surface ballistic missile Hatf II (Abdali), as
part of the process of validation of land-based ballistic
missile systems,” ISPR said in a media release.
The test was witnessed by Director General of Strategic
Plans Division Lieutenant General (retd) Khalid Ahmed
Kidwai, Commander of Army’s Strategic Force Command
Lieutenant General Tariq Nadeem Gilani, other senior
officers and scientists and engineers working with
strategic organisations, the statement said, without
disclosing the location of the test.

The missile has previously been tested in 2002, 2005 and
2006. The missile was originally announced in 1989 and was
displayed publicly at the Pakistan Day Parade.


06, March, 2012


Irsa plans to distribute water amid shortage


By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD, March 5: With both Mangla and Tarbela reservoirs
approaching dead levels, the Indus River System Authority
has estimated that there will be a shortfall of water
during April and called a meeting of its technical
committee on March 16 to determine availability of water
for Kharif 2012 (April-Sept).

Sources told Dawn on Monday that a meeting of Irsa’s
advisory committee would be held by the end of March to
approve the water distribution plan for Kharif in line with
provincial irrigation requirements.

The ministry of water and power has confirmed that the
Mangla reservoir will also “touch dead level within next 7-
8 days” but said that it will not have any negative impact
on the Rabi crops. It said the water level at Mangla was
recorded at 1,071 feet against its dead level of 1,040
feet, adding that the level was dropping at the rate of
about 3.3 feet daily.
The ministry said the water level at Tarbela stood at
1,383.90 feet on Monday against its dead level of 1,378
feet and “daily drop is about four feet”. It pointed out
that about 22,000 and 6,600 cusecs of water was flowing in
Indus and Kabul rivers, respectively, adding that this
would remain available for distribution among stakeholders.

The ministry said the shortfall might affect the
stakeholders only during April and hoped inflow would
improve significantly with increase in temperatures and
resultant snow melting.

The sources said that the shortfall could have been avoided
through a carryover stock of 1.5 million acre feet of
(storage) water. They said that about 250,000 cusecs went
missing between Tarbela Dam and Chashma Barrage during Oct-
Nov period while the unaccounted for water quantities
remained an issue among the relevant agencies during Dec-
Jan period.

The total unaccounted for water had been estimated at
750,000 cusecs, translating into 1.5 million acre feet
during Oct-Jan period.

The ministry sources said that Irsa had advised Wapda to
look into the matter and submit a report but Wapda has not
yet submitted the report. Likewise, the recording of river
flows between Basham and Tarbela dam had also shown wide
variations despite the fact that there was no off-take
point between the two areas.

For example, the river flow at Basham was recorded at
16,000 cusecs on Feb 25 but only 13,000 cusecs was reaching
the Tarbela dam.


07, March, 2012


Army has its eye on NATO supplies deal

By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD,   March 6: The bankrupt Pakistan Railways
management   has pulled off the mother of all deals with the
NLC, while   the army is working hard behind the scenes for
an equally   big deal with the United States.

In the first week of February, railways signed a deal with
the military-run National Logistics Cell (NLC) under which
the cell will repair 30 railway locomotives of which 15
will be returned to the railways to use. The other 15 will
be used by the NLC to carry freight booked by the NLC.

What does the NLC get out of this deal? This was a question
that proved hard to answer as the NLC and the ISPR never
bothered to reply to any questions despite a weeklong wait.

However, Dawn has learnt that the military is gearing up to
earn big bucks from the transport of US/Nato/Isaf supplies
via Pakistan’s land routes in the near future and this is
what is behind the NLC deal with the railways.

In fact, negotiations between the Pakistan military and the
US started as far back as 2009 for a share of the transport
pie that has earned many individuals and companies in this
country millions since the start of the war in Afghanistan
over a decade ago.

A source within a transport company that carries military
supplies to Afghanistan confirmed that trial runs were
carried out at the request of the American government in
2009 and 2010; from Karachi to Peshawar and from Karachi to
Chaman to not just see if the rail routes worked but also
how long the journey took. “The journey to Chaman took
seven days which was an improvement on the trucks as the
increasing number of FC checkpoints was causing delays,”
the source said.

It now appears that while the US waits for the
parliamentary review of bilateral relations that was
ordered after the Salala incident, behind the scenes the
two sides are negotiating the terms and conditions for
transporting NATO and American supplies to Afghanistan.

An official in the Foreign Office confirmed that the
Americans, NATO officials based in Afghanistan, the NLC and
the Foreign Office were working out some plan to use the
railway for supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The recent trip by the newly appointed ambassador to the
US, Sherry Rehman, to Pakistan was part of these
negotiations, the official said.

This, however, is not the only price that is being
demanded. Fees to use the roads as well as a charge at the
port may also be negotiated.

The bi-partisan and bi-cameral Parliamentary Committee on
National Security has also demanded that a fee be imposed
on Nato trucks using roads in Pakistan as well as charging
them around Rs30 billion for the repair of roads.

There is a third fee that may also witness a hike once
these negotiations are over, although it is not confirmed.

At the Karachi port, goods for Afghanistan are charged at
the rate of Rs15,000 per piece, while goods that have
arrived from Afghanistan and are on the way out are charged
Rs20,000.This fee was imposed in 2010 before which the NLC
charged Rs5,000 per item for goods on way to Afghanistan.
One reason these negotiations have become so important is
that the country is trying to thrash out a deal where none
existed to begin with.

After the 9/11 attacks and the quick decision of the allied
states to invade Afghanistan, Pakistan could not negotiate
any terms -- monetary or otherwise -- for the movement of
US and NATO supplies through it.

As a result, the US reserved the right to choose the
companies for the transportation of its supplies.

For Nato/Isaf and British military supplies, the NLC could
select or nominate companies.

As a result, Pakistan was used as a route without the state
making any money from a business that was worth big bucks.

Over time, Pakistan’s land routes became an important part
of the war effort.
According to one estimate, the American supplies constitute
about 70 per cent of the goods transported through

US Transcom Commander Gen William Fraser testified this
year that “in 2011 more than 35,000 containers were
delivered” through Pakistan.

When US embassy’s spokesman Mark Stroh was asked about the
deal between the NLC and the railways, he said: “We are
aware of the agreement but since the ground shipping lines
remain closed, the effects of the agreement with regard to
our shipping remain to be seen.”

However, observers say there is a chance that the Pakistan
Army will end up with some share of the pie as no other
route is as economical as the one through Pakistan.

At the moment, the Americans and the allies are flying in
supplies but this is expensive. In addition they are using
the ‘Northern Distribution Network’ -- a variety of routes
across Central Asia that originate in Europe.

According to a report by the US National Public Radio,
these routes cost “two or three times as much as shipping
them by sea and moving them up through Pakistan”.

And the impending elections in the US and its financial
constraints may be important factors influencing its
decision, especially as the planned drawdown in Afghanistan
may mean an increase in the supplies leaving the country.

In this regard, the Salala incident simply provided an
opportunity to the army to increase its leverage on the

It now remains to be seen what the outcome is and what the
army ends up with.

At a time of dwindling aid and assistance from the US,
‘Rawalpindi’ may just strike gold with the NLC and the war
in Afghanistan.


07, March, 2012

Sahiwal girl suffers acid attack


By Our Correspondent

SAHIWAL, March 6: A man threw acid on a girl’s face in a
village near here on Tuesday for not accepting his
‘friendship’ proposal.

Police arrested the man and registered a case under the
newly enacted law – Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention

Police quoted witnesses as saying that Said Ali, who runs a
dispensary, stopped Yasmin, 20, on a street and threw acid
after she resisted his advances.

According to police, the man was under the influence of

The acid burnt the left side of the girl’s face and
shoulder. When she started crying some villagers came to
her help but the accused escaped.

According police officer Rana Nisar, the accused was nabbed
from his village and investigation showed that he did not
have a licence to run a dispensary. The girl is under
treatment in a hospital in Kameer near her village.


07, March, 2012


BNP-A joins race for Senate post

By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, March 6: After PPP’s major coalition partners —
the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Awami National Party —
softened their demand for the post of the deputy chairman
of the Senate, its junior ally, the Balochistan National
Party-A, has staked its claim for the office.

“Yes, our party president has informed President Zardari
during last night’s meeting that we are also a contender
for the office of the deputy chairman of the Senate,” BNP-A
Senator Kalsoom Parveen told Dawn here on Tuesday.

The chief of BNP-A, Senator Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri,
attended the meeting of heads of coalition parties at the
Presidency on Monday.

Ms Parveen said the BNP-A was an important coalition
partner and deserved to get the office of deputy chairman
because there was an understanding that the post would go
to a Senator from Balochistan.

The BNP-A now has four members in the Senate, including two
women. Naseema Ehsan was elected on a reserved seat for
women in last week’s Senate polls.

Meanwhile, one of the participants of the Monday night’s
meeting at the Presidency told Dawn that all coalition
partners had authorised President Asif Ali Zardari to take
a decision about appointment of the chairman and deputy

He claimed that the heads of coalition parties had told the
president that they would have no objection if he nominated
PPP members for both the offices.Soon after the Senate
elections on March 2, both the PML-Q and the ANP not only
asserted that they were the rightful contenders for deputy
chairman’s office, for which the election will be held
after the new members take oath on March 12, but also
suggested names of their possible candidates.

Since the incumbent deputy chairman Jan Mohammad Jamali of
the PML-Q belongs to Balochistan, the PML-Q floated the
name of Rubina Irfan, whereas the ANP termed Daud Khan
Achakzai the most appropriate candidate for the office. The
two new members hail from Balochistan.
ANP’s information secretary Zahid Khan told Dawn that his
party had only expressed its desire to get the office of
deputy chairman but it had not formally put any demand
before the PPP. Similarly, a senior PML-Q member said his
party was not in the race for any of the two offices.
However, he said, the party believed that if President
Zardari was looking for a Baloch woman for any of the
offices, the PML-Q had the best candidate in the person of
senator-elect Rubina Irfan.

A senior PPP member, who attended the Monday night meeting,
said the party had so far not finalised any name for the
two offices.

Replying to a question, he did not rule out the possibility
that the PPP leadership might replace the incumbent
chairman, Mr Farooq Naek, with another party man, saying:
“No decision has been taken about chairman. It is still

There have been speculations within political and
journalistic circles in the capital over the past two days
regarding possible candidates for the offices of the Senate
chairman and deputy chairman.

The names of Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Babar
Awan, Farhatullah Babar, Sardar Fateh Mohammad Hasni,
Nayyar Bokhari, Sabir Baloch, Rehman Malik and Rubina Irfan
have been in the air as strong contenders for any of the
two offices.


07, March, 2012


Desecration of Quran condemned


By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, March 6: The Senate on Tuesday condemned
desecration of Holy Quran at Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase
by NATO military personnel and demanded punishment for
those responsible for the deplorable act.

The unanimous resolution moved by the Leader of House Syed
Nayyar Hussain Bokhari urged Nato to take steps to prevent
recurrence of such irresponsible acts in future.

The incident involving the burning of the Holy Quran
sparked anti-US protests in the country, with some
religious parties warning to wage a jihad against infidels.

The resolution urged the government to approach the United
Nations, international community and the US for action
against those responsible for burning of the holy Quran.

Describing the incident as an outrageous act, the house
called upon all Muslim countries to demand from Nato and
the United States action against those involved in the

“This house condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous
act of burning of copies of the holy Quran by Nato troops
in Afghanistan,” the resolution read.

BLUE PASSPORTS: The house was informed that the summary
relating to privileges for former lawmakers had been
approved by the prime minister and outgoing senators will
get blue passports and licence for prohibited bore arms.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the staff of passport
office and a mobile unit had been assigned to perform duty
in the Parliament House on Wednesday to issue blue
passports to outgoing Senators.

He said each Senator would get one arms licence of
prohibited bore. He urged senators to bring a photograph
and apply for the licence.

Under notified perks and privileges, the former lawmakers
would be entitled to diplomatic status throughout their
life as they will be allowed to have the blue passport and
continue to use VIP lounges at all airports in the country
free of cost.

07, March, 2012


EC official’s resignation letter attempt to malign court:


By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 6: The resignation letter of former
secretary of the Election Commission drew the ire on
Tuesday of the Supreme Court which described it as an
attempt to malign the court.

In his resignation submitted to the chief election
commissioner, Ishtiak Ahmad Khan had accused ‘unnamed’
institutions of meddling in the affairs of ECP. Copies of
the resignation letter have also been sent to members of
the commission, establishment secretary and principal
secretary to the prime minister.

Although he did not name the institutions encroaching upon
the autonomy of the ECP, he made an indirect reference to
the commission’s recent face-off with the Supreme Court. He
also explained why he chose to resign at this crucial
juncture when the ECP was carrying out the gigantic task of
updating electoral lists.

“Without naming you have called names,” observed Chief
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while pointing to the
former secretary who also appeared before a two-judge bench
hearing petitions of PTI chief Imran Khan and former
premier Benazir Bhutto alleging irregularities in the
voters’ list.

But Mr Khan said he had not named any institution.
“You have tried to undermine the authority of the Supreme
Court,” the chief justice observed.

“It seems that instead of explaining why he failed to
fulfil his duty on behalf of the commission, he addressed a
letter to the prime minister,” the court said and ordered
that an authentic copy of the letter be placed before it on
March 14 so that the court could examine it and proceed

The visibly disturbed bench also rejected the ECP’s
explanation for not meeting the Feb 23 deadline for
completing the electoral list. “The court has no interest
whatsoever except to ensure unpolluted voters’ list,” the
chief justice observed.

“We may point out that the commission, being a
constitutional body, is bound to follow the Constitution
and the law and no departure from its mandatory provisions
can be allowed for any reason which is not acceptable to
the law and the Constitution,” the court said in its order.

Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq read out a reply filed
by the CEC but signed by the secretary. It sought the
court’s approval for a fresh plan of completing the task by
March. The commission said whatever step it took was in
good faith and never intended to disobey the court’s
direction in any manner.

The court expressed surprise when it was informed that
members of the commission, who were high court judges, were
neither aware of the deadline set by the court on July 4
last year nor a contract between the ECP and Nadra. They
came to know about it on Dec 20 last year, although a file
regarding approval on two counts -- allowing the ECP
secretary to sign the contract with Nadra and releasing 20
per cent mobilisation advance to Nadra -- had been placed
before them on July 4, 2011.

In their reply, the ECP members said they were not in a
position to advise the commission about the extension
needed to revise the electoral rolls and suggested filing
of an application in the court for the extension since oral
request by the secretary for the purpose had already been
turned down.
But the secretary in his reply, purportedly filed on his
own behalf and on behalf of the CEC, said the deadline had
been extended on the basis of resolutions adopted by the
Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies as well as in
view of a report by the Sindh election commissioner which
had stated that the verification process could not be
started in some flood-affected districts. In addition,
verification in 3,923 blocks in different parts of Karachi
could also not be started because of the law and order

The process of preparing fresh electoral lists or revision,
the court noted, should have commenced in 2007 when a
constitution petition had been filed by Benazir Bhutto.
“Prime facie it seems that despite making commitments on
various dates, particularly, on July 4, 2011, the process
of completing electoral lists has not so far been completed
by the commission and even if for the sake of argument that
there were requests by the legislative bodies and the
commission had extended the time then there was no
difficulty to complete the task by or before Feb 23,” the
order said.

The hearing was adjourned when the attorney general sought
time to collect relevant documents from 2007 till now in
respect of different stages during which steps were taken
to complete the electoral lists.

Referring to the possibility of extending voting rights to
Pakistanis living abroad, the court decided to wait till a
final decision is taken by the government.

The court realised that the government had decided in
principle to provide the facility to expatriates to
exercise their right to vote, but modalities to implement
the decision had to be worked out.

About eight million Pakistanis live in different countries.


07, March, 2012

The NLC-railways deal


•    The agreement was signed between Railways General
Manager (Operations) Saeed Akhtar and NLC Director General
Maj-Gen Junaid Rehmat at the finance ministry on Feb 8.

•    The NLC will finance the repair of 30 locomotives at
railway workshops.

•    The repair will cost roughly Rs500 million which will
be paid by the NLC initially and will be reimbursed by the
railways within two years in the form of rebate to the NLC
against normal freight charges

•    According to the railways GM, the repair will be
completed in eight to 10 months.

•    Of the repaired locomotives, 15 will be used to carry
freight booked by the NLC, while the rest will be utilised
by the railways for passenger and freight train services.

•   The three-year agreement can be extended.

•    The finance ministry has also allowed the NLC to
purchase coaches and locomotives from the railways and to
import coaches from South Korea and the US.


07, March, 2012


Govt, Nepra at loggerheads over tariff hike


By Khaleeq Kiani
ISLAMABAD, March 6: The government and the National
Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) are at
loggerheads over a proposal to increase power tariff by an
average Rs4 per unit (51 per cent).

Nepra made public a tariff determination on Tuesday in
which it rejected a confidential policy note from the
ministry of water and power seeking the increase through
monthly fuel adjustment to absolve the government of a
political backlash in what may be an election year.

The crux of the dispute -- government’s business plan and
Nepra’s determination -- is that power tariff for
distribution companies of Wapda has to be increased by
about Rs7 per unit.

If the government accepts the Nepra judgement it will have
to notify an average increase of Rs4 per unit in base
tariff or provide Rs350 billion in subsidy, while Nepra
will have to separately increase tariff by about Rs3 per
unit in the shape of automatic fuel adjustment. If Nepra
yields to the government pressure, it will have to increase
tariff by Rs7 per unit through the monthly fuel adjustment

Nepra said the ministry’s policy note was ‘inconsistent’
with four major provisions of the Nepra act, which could
not be accepted unless the act was amended by parliament.
Under the Nepra ruling, the government is required to
notify a fresh consumer tariff of Rs11.709 per unit in
place of the existing Rs7.78 per unit or provide Rs350
billion subsidy.

The government on the other hand believes that this will
not only cause political unrest but also “require and
oblige to cater to additional subsidy (in excess of
budgeted Rs50 billion for the current year), thereby
jeopardising financial sustainability of the entire sector
keeping in view financial constraints and limitations and
restrictions imposed under the Fiscal Responsibility and
Debt Limitation Act 2005”.

Under the law, the government is required to notify Nepra-
determined tariff within 15 days because it has already
exercised its right to seek review which has been rejected
by Nepra.
Since Nepra has already sent its tariff determination on
four distribution companies, including the Islamabad
Electric Supply Company whose tariff applies to all other
companies for uniformity across the country, the
notification for tariff increase has become binding on the
government for which it will require to provide additional

But legal minds in the government are of the opinion that
this can be sidestepped until Nepra issues its
determinations for all distribution companies of Wapda.

Nepra has so far issued determinations for four companies;
two more have been finalised and two are being worked upon.

Informed sources said that after having exhausted all legal
remedies, the government had asked Nepra chairman Khalid
Saeed to delay determination of tariff for the remaining
three companies of Wapda and pass on to consumers the cost
of fuel impact through the monthly automatic tariff regime
to relieve the government of political pressure. In that
case, Nepra would have to increase the fuel-based tariff
for October, November and December by about Rs7 per unit,
the sources said.

Inside sources said that because of the government
pressure, Nepra chairman had put on hold release of its
determinations for Faisalabad and Hyderabad electric supply
companies despite the fact that these are ready for over a
month now.

The power ministry asked Nepra to take into account the
government’s business plan which envisaged furnace oil
price at Rs 46,000 per ton for the financial year 2011-12.

Nepra argued that the demand was “not realistic” because
fuel price had gone beyond Rs66,723 per ton, excluding
general sales tax. It said the business plan did not take
into account the use of high speed diesel which was
expensive but consumed for power generation because of gas
shortage under a decision by the Economic Coordination
Committee of the cabinet and currency devaluation.

“In view thereof, accepting the water and power ministry’s
business plan being based on unrealistic assumptions will
not only be misleading but will also be inconsistent with
five different provisions of Rule 17 (3) of Nepra Standards
and Procedure Rules 1998”, it added.

Nepra has turned down the power ministry’s request to
review its decision.

The ministry said Nepra’s refusal to accept reference fuel
price at Rs46,000 per ton had increased subsidy “beyond
affordable limit” and asked it to consider the government’s
economic and social policy objectives and allow adequate
transition time for minimising subsidies and financial
sustainability of the sector and giving the all-slab
benefit to consumers instead of one-slab benefit.

Following a twice-postponed hearing on the power ministry’s
request, Nepra finally heard its arguments on Feb 9 and
reached the conclusion that the ministry could not provide
any cogent reason to incorporate its business plan in the
tariff determination. “The ministry also could not satisfy
the authority with regard to its observation that the
policy decision is not consistent with the provision of
Nepra Act.”

In view of these facts, Nepra has again intimated to the
government to notify the revised tariff in the official


07, March, 2012


Committee investigating Gill’s defeat seeks help of


By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD, March 6: An inquiry committee formed to probe
unexpected defeat of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party
leader Aslam Gill in Senate election was not able to
complete its report on Tuesday.
The meeting of the committee headed by MNA Faryal Talpur
was held in the Presidency in which PPP’s members of the
Punjab Assembly were called.

The meeting concluded that MPA Aslam Gill lost his seat in
Senate because of two reasons -- mismanagement on the part
of PPP Punjab and some ‘underhand’ deals by five to six
MPAs of the ruling party with other candidates.

“The committee has sought assistance of some agencies to
pinpoint the people responsible for the defeat and
humiliation to the party,” the losing candidate of Senate
polls, Aslam Gill, told Dawn.

“It is very difficult for the legislator to ascertain who
had sold his loyalty and, therefore, the assistance of some
intelligence agencies has been sought,” he said.

The PPP leader revealed that Faryal Talpur, sister of
President Asif Ali Zardari, had called him for a one-to-one
meeting on Wednesday in Islamabad.

Giving details about the meeting, he said he was not
present in the meeting because he wanted to give a fair
chance to the MPAs to inform the inquiry committee about
what actually happened during Senate polls in Punjab.

“But some of the PMAs told me that majority of the
participants expressed dissatisfaction over the role of
leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz. They
were of the view that mismanagement on his part was one of
the main reasons of the defeat,” he said.

In view of the demand of majority of MPAs, it is believed
that the PPP leadership may change the leader of opposition
in Punjab in the near future.

The inquiry committee believed that five to six MPAs of the
ruling party had voted for some other candidates, instead
of Aslam Gill, in Senate polls held on March 2.

A participant of the meeting quoted Ms Talpur as saying:
“Those who have ditched the party and blood of Shaheed
Benazir Bhutto will never be tolerated.”
The decision to initiate inquiry into the defeat of Aslam
Gill was taken by President Asif Ali Zardari in the PPP
core committee meeting on Monday.

The committee was to present its report to the president
within 24 hours, but it seems that it will take some more

It has been learnt that President Zardari was of the view
that some MPAs had ‘ditched’ the party.

It was due to the support of certain PPP MPAs that Mohsin
Leghari, an MPA of Pakistan Muslim League (forward block),
got elected as senator despite limited numerical strength
of his party in the Punjab Assembly.


07, March, 2012


Old friend blamed for Gwadar DC’s murder


By S. Raza Hassan

KARACHI, March 6: The driver of slain Gwadar Deputy
Commissioner Abdul Rehman Dashti saved his life by running
away on Monday night after he overheard the murderers who
also planned to kill him.

As police were busy exploring probable motives for the
killing of Mr Dashti (his designation was inadvertently
published on Tuesday as district coordination officer), his
close friends and family expressed shock over the incident,
saying his friendship with the main suspect, Mir Imam
Bizenjo, dated back 30 years.

Officials close to the investigation quoted the DC’s driver
Badal as saying that Mr Dashti had suddenly left his
residence on Khayaban-i-Sehr late in the night. He told his
family that he was going to see Mir Imam and would have
dinner on return from there.

As the DC and his driver reached the house on Khayaban-i-
Tanzeem in his official car, Mir Imam and his two guards
also arrived there in his black Prado.

Appearing to be in an aggressive mood, Mir Imam took Mr
Dashti inside the house. The other men also went into the
house, the driver told police.

About two or three minutes later, the driver heard a
gunshot from inside the house. Moments later, he overheard
someone saying that the driver was outside and he should
also be killed, the investigators said.

Getting scared, the driver ran to the 26th Street, hired a
rickshaw and reached Mr Dashti’s house.

He informed the family about the incident and they went to
the Darakshan police station.

The station house officer (SHO) rushed to the place along
with the complainant.

By that time, Mr Dashti’s body had been placed in his car
which had been moved a few yards away from the house,
police said.

The accused Mir Imam alias Imam Bheel had gone away,
leaving behind his two employees, Yar Mohammad and Rafiq
Ahmed, who were detained by police.

They had washed the porch but police found blood stains and
a spent bullet casing.

During questioning, the DC’s driver said that whenever Mr
Dashti came to Karachi he used to go to Mir Imam’s place
almost every night.

A police official said Mr Dashti had been shot in the face
at point-blank range.

Clifton police registered a first information report (FIR)
under Section 302 in which Imam Bheel, alias Imam Buksh
Bizenjo, was named as suspect on the complaint of Maqbool
Hasan, nephew of the slain official.
It may be mentioned that on May 30, 2009, the name of Mir
Yaqub Bizenjo, son of Imam Bheel alias Imam Buksh Bizenjo,
had appeared on a list of world’s four leading drug barons
issued by the White House along with an order signed by
President Barack Obama seeking sanctions against them.


07, March, 2012


Gen Mattis coming for talks on reopening of NATO routes


By Our Correspondent

WASHINGTON, March 6: The US commander responsible for
American military efforts in the Pak-Afghan region told a
Senate panel on Tuesday that he would travel to Pakistan in
about 10 days for talks on reopening ground supply routes.

Pakistan closed NATO supply routes to Afghanistan after the
Nov 26 attack on its military post that killed 24 soldiers.

At a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen.
James Mattis, commander of US Central Command, said the
United States needed those routes to reopen to facilitate
the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Last week, Gen. William Fraser, commander of the US
Transport Command, told the same congressional panel that
overland cargo routes through Pakistan must be reopened for
the United States to complete its pullout from Afghanistan
by the end of 2014.

Gen. Fraser said the Northern Distribution Network, which
passes through Central Asia, was unable to handle the large
number of shipments or all types of cargo and that the
failure to reopen the Pakistan route could delay the
withdrawal schedule.
Gen. Mattis was scheduled to visit Pakistan last month for
similar talks but the visit was delayed because Pakistan
wanted the general to come after it finalises parliamentary
recommendations for rebuilding its ties with the United

Diplomatic sources told Dawn that a joint parliamentary
session needed to finalise the recommendations could be
held by March 17, paving the way for Gen. Mattis and other
US officials to visit Islamabad.

Besides Gen. Mattis, US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and
USAID chief

Rajiv Shah are also interested in visiting Pakistan and are
waiting for a go-ahead from Islamabad.The New York Times
reported last month that during his talks with Pakistani
military leaders, Gen. Mattis might also apologise over the
Nov. 26 incident, as Pakistan had demanded.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also was expected to
convey an apology to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in
a meeting in London last month but the burning of Holy
Quran in Afghanistan delayed the gesture.

President Barack Obama had to apologise to his Afghan
counterpart over the burning and senior officials in his
administration felt that two apologies in a short period of
time could hurt his re-election campaign.


08, March, 2012


By-election result cancelled: Poll commission slaps 2-year
ban on Waheeda


By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, March 7: The Election Commission of Pakistan
disqualified on Wednesday Sindh politician Waheeda Shah
from contesting election for two years for slapping EC
staff at a polling station in her constituency during
recently held by-elections.

The commission also nullified the result of the election
for the PS-53 seat which Ms Shah had won.

The PPP candidate will not be able to contest any election
till March 6, 2014, unless the Supreme Court already seized
with the matter overturned the ECP’s decision taken by 3-2

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza
and Roshan Ehsani, a member of the commission from Sindh,
wrote notes of dissent.

ECP spokesman Mohammad Afzal Khan told reporters that a
date for a fresh election for the Tando Muhammad Khan seat
would be announced later.

Under Section 108 of the Peoples Representation Act, by-
elections to fill casual vacancies in the national or
provincial assembly are to be held within 60 days.

The commission asked the Sindh IG to take action under
(Civil Servants) Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973
against DSP Irfan Shah who was seen in the video footage
standing behind Waheeda Shah when she was slapping the
assistant presiding officer on Feb 25. The IG is required
to inform the commission about the action taken against the
DSP. The video of the incident repeatedly telecast by TV
channels was seen across the country.

The commission acted immediately and withheld results till
the completion of an inquiry. The Supreme Court also took
notice of the incident and judges described it as s slap in
the face of the state. It refused to accept an
unconditional apology tendered by Waheeda Shah.

An independent candidate who had secured the second highest
votes filed an application in which he requested the
election commission to disqualify Waheeda Shah and declare
him as successful candidate.
Meanwhile, a PML-N delegation called on the CEC and urged
him to suspend the notification about election of seven
senators on general seats from Balochistan.


08, March, 2012


Senate voices concern for the missing


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, March 7: The Senate has expressed “its deep
concern over the issue of missing persons” and asked the
federal and provincial governments to take “immediate and
effective steps to ensure speedy recovery and release” of
all of them.

A resolution moved on Wednesday by Jamaat-i-Islami’s Prof
Khursheed Ahmed was adopted unanimously.

The resolution termed “abduction and forced disappearances”
a violation of the fundamental right to justice granted to
every citizen by the Constitution.

The resolution specifically mentioned such incidents in
Balochistan, Karachi and the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (Fata).

“The Senate of Pakistan expresses its deep concern over the
issue of missing persons, involving persistent violation of
Articles 9 and 10 of the Constitution. While acts of
terrorism or subversion are unforgivable, every citizen is
innocent till proved guilty through due process of law.

“The abduction, arbitrary lifting and forced disappearance
of any human being is illegal and intolerable in a
civilised society. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has also
taken serious note of this situation which has assumed
serious proportions in the country, particularly in
Balochistan, Karachi and Fata,” it said.

The house resolved that “the federal and provincial
governments should take immediate and effective steps to
ensure the speedy recovery and release of all such persons,
except those who are charged under the law of the land for
any offence”.

The resolution called for the presentation before the house
of a detailed report on the issue by the authorities
concerned “as early as possible”.

The three JI senators, who are retiring on March   11, had
also tabled a bill last month, seeking reduction   in the
powers of “preventive detention” of intelligence   and law-
enforcement agencies. The bill is pending before   a house


08, March, 2012


Supplies to 4 fertiliser plants partially restored: Gas
woes may worsen in coming years: officials


By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD, March 7: With gas supplies partially restored to
four fertiliser plants on the SNGPL (Sui Northern Gas
Pipelines Limited) system following recent rises in
temperatures, policymakers are worried about continuous
surge in CNG consumption which they believe may adversely
affect the country’s long-term economic growth.

Officials said the gas shortage would continue even during
summer months, requiring reduced supplies to power sector,
textile and fertiliser industries. This may cause losses in
With the current gas consumption of about 270 million cubic
feet per day (MMCFD), the demand for CNG growing by more
than 5 MMCFD per month mainly because of continuous
increase in conversion of private vehicles from petrol to
the cheaper fuel and the addition of over 600 new CNG
stations over the past four years, the shortage would be
difficult to avoid, a government official told Dawn on

He said the CNG consumption would increase to more than 350
MMCFD next year even though the government continued with
the three-day shutdown in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and
a one-day closure in Sindh and Balochistan.

The official anticipated an even more serious gas shortage
over the next two years and beyond and said the government
would have to speed up work on the Iran-Pakistan Gas
pipeline project and start importing Liquefied Natural Gas
to maintain the shortage at the current level.

He said the rise in temperature had reduced domestic
consumption and the gas so saved had now been diverted to
four fertiliser plants — PakArab, Dawood Herucules,
Agritech and Engro’s new plant, but the supplies were less
than 80 per cent of their requirements.

The official said the petroleum ministry would not be in a
position to provide gas to four power plants — namely
Sapphire, Saif, Halmore and Orient — while many units in
Wapda system would have to run on alternate fuels like
furnace oil and diesel.

Officials said the two fertiliser plants — Fatima
Fertiliser and Engro — were in dispute over allocation of
the Latif Gas field in Sindh for dedicated gas supplies.
Owned by state-owned Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Latif
field was originally meant for supplying gas to Engro
fertiliser in view of sovereign guarantees issued to Engro
for 100mmcfd of gas by the SNGPL.

The petroleum ministry had formally forwarded a summary to
the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet seeking
allocation from the Latif field to Engro through a
dedicated pipeline of about 100 kilometres.

The summary was withdrawn at the eleventh hour following
political pressure in favour of the Fatima fertiliser.
Officials said the Fatima Fertiliser was over 500
kilometres away from the Latif field and might turn out to
be an economic proposition for the state-owned gas

Officials said the fertiliser sector could not utilise its
full capacity this year and could produce only 4.9 million
tons of urea against an installed capacity of about 6.9
million tons.


08, March, 2012


Nargis Sethi faces tough questions in court


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 7: Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis
Sethi informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that no
summary had been received from the law ministry about
reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari
when she worked as principal secretary to Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani from Sept 23, 2010 to Jan 17, 2011.

Appearing before a seven-member bench headed by Justice
Nasirul Mulk hearing a contempt of court case against Mr
Gilani, she acknowledged that two summaries had been
received, one on May 21 and the other on Sept 23, 2010.

According to the two summaries, then law minister Babar
Awan and law secretary Pir Masud Chishti had informed the
premier that there was no use of writing a letter to the
Swiss authorities because the cases filed against President
Zardari in Swiss courts had already been withdrawn.

The summaries also said that the court orders were not
implementable. It was also pointed out that the president
was supreme commander of the armed forces and part of
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Mr Gilani, defended his
client by saying that the prime minister had acted on the
advice in accordance with the rules of business, but said
the advice might be wrong.

At one stage Mr Ahsan asked Nargis Sethi what was the
normal course of business if a federal secretary sought not
to comply with the directions of the prime minister and she
said he would have to revert back in the form of a summary.

When the court interrupted and observed rules of business
were known to all, Mr Ahsan said the question was relevant
as only the prime minister was being tried and no-one else.

The bench observed that Mr Ahsan could not cross-examine
his own witness, but the counsel said he could prove that
it was not a cross-examination. “In a cross-examination you
ask questions which are responded merely by saying ‘yes’ or

Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq raised an objection and
said that Ms Sethi could testify only her own signature on
the summaries and not of other persons. He said the
summaries could be testified by the one who had prepared

Ms Sethi told the court that the prime minister’s
engagements included everything listed in the rules of
business and “much more than that”.

Mr Ahsan kept on posing questions and the court found many
of them irrelevant. He, however, stressed that it was
essential to bring certain things on record to make out a
defence case.

Ms Sethi said the prime minister had a close relationship
with parliament and met lawmakers on a daily basis and
being the head of a coalition government he also held
frequent meetings with allies. He also met dignitaries
preceded by briefings.

She said the prime minister presided over 104 meetings of
the cabinet, 10 meetings of the Defence Committee of the
Cabinet and attended 90 per cent of the parliamentary
sessions and proceeded on foreign visits for around 30
times during the time she worked with him.
Ms Sethi told the court that the apparent purpose of
questions on the engagement of the prime minister was to
show that he did not have time to minutely go through all
the files reaching him. On an average, he sees 1,000 files
in a month.

Ms Sethi said that during the period she served with the
prime minister, he never demonstrated any bitterness or
ill-will against the judge of an accountability court who
had sentenced him for 10 years with a fine of Rs100
million. He spent five years in jail and the sentence was
set aside in appeal.

She said the prime minister was in Bhutan when the
promotion of 54 officers, including herself, was reverted
by the Supreme Court and when she conveyed the message to
him he said the court orders should be implemented without
any demur.

Justice Ejaz Chaudhry pointed out that she (Nargis Sethi)
was No. 54 on the seniority list but was promoted despite
that. He remarked that there were a number of instances
where the court orders were not implemented.

Ms Sethi said when Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday was
evicted from his official residence the prime minister
intervened and restored his accommodation. On another
occasion, the prime minister went uninvited to a farewell
dinner for Justice Ramday to improve relations between the
judiciary and the executive.

The hearing will continue on Thursday.


08, March, 2012


Three labourers gunned down


By Saleem Shahid
QUETTA, March 7: Gunmen killed three people and injured six
others in a town close to the Iranian border in Kech
district on Wednesday evening.

Official sources said that nine labourers, who hailed from
Sahiwal and Faisalabad, had arrived in Mand Balo from Iran
and were waiting for a bus to leave for Karachi when four
men on motorcycles opened fire.

Three workers, Riaz Ahmed, Mohammad Gulzar and Mohammad
Fayyaz, died on the spot, while Mohammad Shafiq,
Ehsanullah, Mohammad Faizan, Abdul Karim, Mohammad Farooq
and Mohammad Hussain were injured.

The attackers escaped.

Other sources put the death toll at five, but security
officials confirmed three deaths.

Security forces took the injured to a hospital.

Official sources said the condition of two of the injured
was serious because they had suffered multiple bullet
wounds.The bodies were shifted to Turbat to be sent to
their native areas.

Security forces launched a search operation for the
assailants but no arrest was reported till late in the


08, March, 2012


CM terms EC’s verdict ‘strange’


KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has termed ‘a
little strange’ the Election Commission’s verdict against
PPP candidate Waheeda Shah for assaulting polling staff
during the recent by-election and said an offender was not
expected to be penalised twice for a single offence.

“I am a student of law and don’t consider myself an
authority on the subject, you have to assess the situation
yourself,” he said while talking to reporters at a dinner
hosted by provincial Adviser Haleem Adil Sheikh on
Wednesday in honour of newly-elected senators from Sindh .

“People of Tando Mohammad Khan and workers of our party in
the district have reacted to the verdict, but we respect
institutions. We will consult legal experts before
challenging the Election Commission’s decision.”

When asked about graffiti which recently appeared in
Karachi demanding a separate province, he called it a
‘teaser’ by some ‘miscreants’ who wanted to damage harmony
among the people of Sindh. “It’s the product of a negative
mindset.”—Staff Reporter


08, March, 2012


Counsel wants heart specialist to treat accused: Judge
hearing brigadier case changed


By Malik Asad

RAWALPINDI, March 7: The counsel for detained Brigadier Ali
Khan said on Wednesday he had no confidence in the judge of
the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court hearing a case
relating to the court martial of his client.

In his petition, Brig Ali had challenged the legality of
the case being heard by the Rawalpindi bench headed by
Justice Ijaz Ahmed. After the judge’s transfer to Lahore,
the petition was transferred to Justice Rauf Ahmed Sheikh.
His counsel Advocate Col (retd) Inamur Rahim argued that in
a case of five persons convicted of an attack on the GHQ,
Justice Sheikh had already ruled that “after the refusal of
the chief of army staff for providing the trial proceedings
of the case, the court could not interfere in the matter”.

The case was referred to Justice Khwaja Imtiaz Ahmed at the
request of the counsel. Justice Khwaja will take up the
matter on Thursday.

The counsel also sought a court order for the military
authorities to get the detained brigadier treated by the
heart specialist who had been treating him since 2009. “My
client is a chronic cardiac patient,” he added.

Advocate Rahim said the court had earlier issued an order
for providing medical treatment to Brig Ali by the doctor
of his choice, but the military authorities arranged
another doctor for the purpose.

Lt-Col Tahir Mehmood of the army’s Judge Advocate General
(JAG) branch informed the court that the military
authorities were providing satisfactory medical treatment
to Brig Ali and a serving colonel of the army medical corps
(AMC) examined him.

Brig Ali is facing court martial on charges of having links
with the banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HuT), conspiring to
topple the government, trying to instigate a mutiny within
the army and launching an attack on the GHQ.

Talking to Dawn, Advocate Rahim alleged that the military
authorities were not following the army act during the
trial of Brig Ali.

For instance, he said, during the proceeding of his court
martial, blood pressure of Brig Ali had suddenly shot up,
but instead of adjourning the proceedings for a day, they
waited for an hour and then resumed the hearing when his
blood pressure stabilised. However, when his blood pressure
shot up again, they adjourned the proceedings.

Under the army act, the counsel said, the authorities
should adjourn the proceedings at least for a day or until
the condition of an accused stabilised.

08, March, 2012


VC held by Taliban seeks govt help


Bureau Report

PESHAWAR, March 7: The Vice-Chancellor of Islamia College
University, Prof Ajmal Khan, being held in captivity by
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan for 18 months, has appealed to
the government to release four Taliban in exchange of his

Prof Khan, who was a clean-shaven and healthy man before
his kidnapping, appeared with a beard and looked exhausted
and weak in a video message reportedly released by the TTP
on Wednesday.

This was his fourth video message released since Sept 7,
2010, when he and his driver were kidnapped from
Professors’ Colony.

The video seen on TV channels shows him in a mountainous
area reading out a written message which said he was in
TTP’s captivity. He appeals to the government to make
sincere efforts to get him freed.

Prof Khan said the government refused to release four
Taliban in exchange for his freedom, although it swapped
100 Taliban prisoners with a Swiss couple and paid millions
of rupees as ransom.


08, March, 2012

Umrani’s relative kidnapped


By Our Staff Correspondent

QUETTA, March 7: A close relative of Mir Sadiq Ali Umrani,
president of the Balochistan chapter of Pakistan People’s
Party, was kidnapped from the Allahbad Tamboo area of
Nasirabad district on Wednesday evening.

Sources said that Nazimuddin Umrani was going home when
gunmen intercepted him and took him with them. Police have
registered a case and started an investigation.

Family sources said that no-one had so far approached the
family for ransom or with any other demand.

Meanwhile, trader Ashok Kumar, who was kidnapped 10 days
ago from Gandahwa of the Jhal Masgi area, returned home on
Wednesday night. It is not known how mach ransom he paid to
the kidnappers.


08, March, 2012


Pakistan’s importance in peace efforts stressed


By Our Correspondent

WASHINGTON, March 7: The reconciliation talks with the
Taliban will succeed if Pakistan agrees to play a
constructive role in those talks, says Senator Carl Levin,
chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday afternoon, US lawmakers and
military officials reviewed Pakistan’s role in the US-led
peace efforts in Afghanistan, focusing on how tensions
between Islamabad and Washington could affect those

“The progress of reconciliation talks with the Taliban,”
the senator observed, would be determined by various
factors, including “whether Pakistan chooses to play a
constructive role in those talks”.

Another important requirement for bringing peace to
Afghanistan was the elimination of the threat from
insurgent safe havens in Pakistan, Senator Levin
added.Senator John McCain, the ranking Republican member of
the committee, observed that the US relationship with
Pakistan “remains fraught by a series of setbacks and a
lack of trust, largely arising from the fact that the
country’s intelligence service continues to support
terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network, that are
killing Americans”.

Admiral William McRaven, commander of US Special Operations
Command, told Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire
Republican, that if Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was
caught in Pakistan the decision to keep him there or bring
him to the United States would be made in consultation with
the Pakistani government.

Senator Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, pointed that the US
had not succeeded in winning over Pakistan’s support
against Iran as Islamabad still “calls them their most
important friend”.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, raised
the issue of IEDs, claiming that Pakistan remained the main
source of the materials used for making the devices.

“It has been an area of frustration. It has been a serious
topic of dialogue with us,” Gen James Mattis, commander of
US Central Command, told the panel.

The Pakistanis, however, had now passed the laws that would
enable them to make arrests that they could not make
before. They’ve also put together their counter-IED
strategy in the last few months, the general said.
“I need to get back into Pakistan and talk with them more
about it. There is some reason for more optimism today than
if I was testifying last year,” Gen Mattis said.

“Can you talk about where we are in negotiating reopening
of (NATO supply routes) and how important that will be?”
asked Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat.

“It is important to us. We have proven that we can sustain
the campaign through the Northern Distribution Network and
through what we call our multimodal, which is basically
part by air, part by sea, re-supply of our effort there,”
Gen Mattis replied.

“However, the withdrawal out of Afghanistan we do need the
ground lines of communication through Pakistan. As far as
the status of that discussion, I will fly to Pakistan here
in about ten days and we’ll reopen the discussion.”

Gen Mattis said he believed the parliamentary process
launched to determine a new relationship with the United
States would be over by that point and the Pakistani
“military will be able to engage with us”.


09, March, 2012


Younus Habib says money arranged at behest of Ghulam Ishaq,
Aslam Beg: Rs340m lavished in ‘national interest’


By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 8: A frail-looking Younus Habib, who
headed the now defunct Mehran Bank, spilled the beans in
the Mehrangate-IJI case on Thursday when he revealed in his
first-ever statement before the Supreme Court that he had
been forced by former president late Ghulam Ishaq Khan and
former army chief Aslam Beg to arrange Rs340 million in the
“supreme national interest”.

Mr Habib, who was on wheelchair, said he had also been
jailed for serving the “so-called supreme national

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar
Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice
Tariq Parvez accepted his sworn handwritten statement which
the elderly banker first said should be treated as a
confidential document, but later agreed to read it loudly
in the open court.

The bench had taken up the 1996 petition of Tehrik-i-
Istiqlal chief Air Martial (retd) Asghar Khan accusing the
ISI of financing several politicians during the 1990
elections to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and
prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning. The ISI
allegedly dished out Rs140 million for the purpose. The
petition was based on the affidavit of former ISI chief
Asad Durrani.

On Thursday, the court ordered defence ministry’s director
(legal) Mohammad Hussain Shahbaz to submit reports on the
working of security and intelligence agencies from 1990
till date. The documents would remain confidential “in the
interest of the nation”.

Younus Habib said Gen Aslam Beg and ISI’s Brigadier Hamid
Saeed had provided number of certain accounts in UBL, ABL
and MCB for depositing the amount while the counterfoil of
the deposit slip had been handed over to one Colonel Akbar.

Both Gen Aslam Beg and Asad Durrani were in the court,
quietly listening to Mr Habib’s affidavit.

“In all I was asked to arrange Rs350 million by the former
president and the army chief before the 1990 general
elections,” said Mr Habib while reading out the affidavit.

Of the Rs345 million, Rs140 million was paid through Gen
Aslam Beg to politicians — Rs70 million to former Sindh
chief minister Jam Sadiq Ali who was provided another Rs150
million (from Mehran Bank’s funds) for arranging licence to
set up Mehran Bank, Rs15 million to Pir Pagara through Jam
Sadiq, Rs70 million to Younus Memom on the instructions of
Ishaq Khan and Gen Beg for the politicians who wished not
to receive the money directly from the ISI. Some of the
money was also dished out to the Army Welfare Trust.

Younus Habib, who joined the Habib Bank Limited in 1963 as
a clerk and retired as the bank’s Sindh chief in 1991,
tendered an apology for his involvement in the scam and
threw himself at the mercy of the court.

He admitted that he used to talk to Gen (retd) Beg
frequently and it was in March 1990 that the latter wanted
him to arrange Rs350 million before the elections. A few
months later, he said, he had been invited by Gen Beg to
attend the installation ceremony of Col Commandant Sindh
regiment where he was treated like chief guest.

Mr Habib submitted a photograph, along with his affidavit,
in which he is seen with former president Ishaq Khan and a
uniformed army officer having conversation with Gen Beg.

The court made the photograph part of the record.

He said a meeting later arranged at the Balochistan House
in Islamabad was attended only by him, Ishaq Khan and Gen
Beg. “I was told by Ishaq Khan that the money ought to be
arranged by hook or by crook.”

Mr Habib said he had told them that arranging such a huge
amount was not possible through legal means for which he
had to manipulate the system. At this Ishaq Khan told him
that he would have to do whatever he could for the national

Mr Habib’s bag of surprises had a few other information. On
Sept 29, 1990, he said, a meeting had been held in the Q
block of the Islamabad Secretariat in which former attorney
general late Aziz A. Munshi and Roedad Khan (probably the
then chief of a cell to initiate cases against Asif Ali
Zardari and Benazir Bhutto) had been pressurised to lodge a
complaint against Mr Asif Zardari implicating him in the
Fauzi Ali Kazmi Tax Free Plaza scam.

Younus Habib was arrested on the orders of Roedad Khan at
Karachi airport when he refused to oblige. He was kept in
an FIA cell for five to six days. While in custody, Mr
Habib said, he concluded that he had to arrange the money
and was also bullied through the courtesy of Jam Sadiq Ali.
Mr Habib said the case had been dubbed the Mehran Bank
scandal, but actually the amount had been provided by the
HBL and the NBP.

When former Prime Minister Benazir came to power for the
second time, she ordered an audit of the bank.

Earlier, two sealed documents (four folders), one
comprising a report by a commission tasked to review the
working of security and intelligence agencies, were opened
in the court. The other document contained two audio-
cassettes and unsigned statements/cross-examination of Maj-
Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar and Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani
recorded during an in-camera session of the court.

The court noted that its office had also tried to find out
whether the examination of Naseerullah Babar and Asad
Durrani was recorded because no such document was on


09, March, 2012




According to Younus Habib:

•Rs140 million was paid through Gen Beg to politicians;

•Rs70 million to former chief minister Sindh Jam Sadiq Ali;

•Rs15 million to Pir Pagara through Jam Sadiq;

•Rs70 million to Younus Memom on the instructions of then
president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Gen Beg for the politicians
who wished not to be paid directly from the ISI;

•Some amount was also dished out to the Army Welfare Trust.
According to the affidavit of former DG ISI Asad Durrani:

•Nawaz Sharif received Rs3.5 million;

•Mir Afzal Khan Rs10 million;

•Lt-Gen Rafaqat Rs5.6m for distribution among journalists;

•Abida Hussain Rs1 million;

•Jamaat-i-Islami Rs5 million;

•Altaf Hussain Qureshi Rs0.5 million;

•Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi Rs5 million;

•Jam Sadiq Rs5 million;

•Mohammad Khan Junejo Rs0.25 million;

•Pir Pagara Rs2 million;

•Maulana Salahuddin Rs0.3 million;

•Humayun Marri Rs1.5 million;

•Jamali Rs4 million;

•Kakar Rs1 million;

•K. Baloch Rs0.5 million

•Jam Yousuf Rs0.75 million

•Bizenjo Rs0.5 million;

•Various small groups in Sindh received Rs5.4 million.


09, March, 2012

SC gives March 21 deadline to PM for writing Swiss letter


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 8: In an unexpected twist the Supreme
Court sent shivers down the spine of many in the government
when it categorically stated that the contempt case against
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would not overshadow the
NRO verdict. The court summoned a report from the prime
minister on the implementation of the judgment.

A seven-judge bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk was
hearing on Thursday contempt of court proceedings against
the prime minister for not pursuing in Switzerland graft
cases which also involved President Asif Ali Zardari.

After Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq had finished
questioning Defence and Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, he
was asked by the bench to inform the prime minister that
pendency of the contempt proceedings would not affect the
implementation part.

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

The prime minister is required to submit a report about
implementation of the judgment by March 21 when the court
will resume hearing of the contempt case.

The court noted that despite repeated directions and
warnings, it appeared that its orders were not implemented
which compelled it to issue a show-cause notice to the
prime minister who stated that the direction was not
implementable because the president enjoyed immunity.

The bench said it would not comment on the defence of the
prime minister, but as the chief executive he should
implement the orders of the court.

The court also asked Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the counsel
for Mr Gilani, that he could file a reply on behalf of his
client. Otherwise, the prime minister himself could appear
in person to testify and record his statement on March 21.

Mr Ahsan argued that he had not discussed with Mr Gilani
whether he would file his written reply or appear in

Justice Nasirul Mulk told the counsel that if the prime
minister wanted to file a written statement, he could file
it with the registrar by March 19 and if he wished to
appear in person he could do so on March 21. However,
arguments would start on the day the court would meet.

Meanwhile, the attorney general who is the prosecutor in
the contempt case, asked Defence and Cabinet Secretary
Nargis Sethi a number of questions.

The secretary explained that important summaries were
produced before the prime minister, like the summaries of
May 21 and Sept 22, 2010, suggesting not to write a letter
to Swiss authorities, were tabled before him in accordance
with the rules of business and usual practice.

Hundreds of references came to the prime minister’s house,
the secretary said, but only summaries were placed before
him. She conceded that she did not make any query about the
two summaries because she was not required to conduct
inquiries. This, she added, was the job of the secretaries

The AG explained that he would further decide the future
course if the prime minister chose to submit a written


09, March, 2012


Baloch leaders in no mood to accept talks offer

By Kalbe Ali

ISLAMABAD, March 8: The recent government offer for talks
with Baloch nationalist leaders appears to be heading
nowhere as most of them have rejected it, saying they have
no trust in the rulers.

“This is a trap and our leaders, including Brahamdagh
Bugti, will not return; the government did the same in the
1960s when they invited the Baloch leaders for talks and
later persecuted them. The rulers also tricked Nawab (Akbar
Khan) Sahib,” Shahzain Bugti, a leader of the Jamhoori
Watan Party, told Dawn.

“Nobody trusts the government anymore, whether it is
Interior Minister Rehman Malik or anybody else. Dictatorial
policies of the past continue to dominate the current
scenario in Balochistan.”

The interior ministry has ordered the chief secretary of
Balochistan to withdraw cases against Brahamdagh, Harbyar
Marri and Akhtar Mengal, but the nationalists described the
move as double standards of the government.

“The point is that who will guarantee the deal; what
happens if talks fail or the government doesn’t want to
listen to anything,” said Mr Shahzain, a grandson of Akbar

“Behaviour is the problem and Islamabad’s mindset is the
main culprit; neither are we a colony of the federal
government nor slaves.”

Senator Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party said the
government’s offer to withdraw cases against nationalist
leaders was a “worthless move”. “The main issue is that
most of them are not in the country and they don’t even
recognise the writ of the state,” he said, adding that as
long as the core issue of missing persons and dumping of
mutilated bodies was not resolved, things would not move in
any direction.

Shahzain Bugti, who is currently in Islamabad, is holding
meetings with leaders of political parties to discuss the
Balochistan issue. On Thursday, he met a US embassy
official in a hotel.
Most Baloch nationalists have welcomed a resolution on
Balochistan tabled in the US Congress and those who are
abroad have vowed to approach the UN for a complete
autonomy for Balochistan.

“We have been cornered and anybody in such a situation will
seek help from everywhere even if it leads to the UN,” Mr
Shahzain said.

“But we are still with the federation and want to be with
it. But a third force is developing which is against
everything and will become stronger if the government fails
to take measures for building trust.”

He said building trust was not possible as long as “secrete
agencies continue to play a dirty role”.

An official of a security agency rebuked the accusations
hurled by Shahzain Bugti and other Baloch nationalists.

“Despite strong rhetoric against the federal set-up, Mr
Shahzain can be seen roaming freely in the federal capital
in SUVs, along with 25 guards, which makes his presence too
obvious,” he said, adding that claims about 13,000 missing
persons in Balochistan were all unfounded.

“Why is anybody not touching him in Islamabad?” the
official wondered.

Mr Shahzain retorted: “This is my country and we have
rendered sacrifices more than the agencies for it.”

While he blamed the security agencies and FC for all the
ills in Balochistan, he had an unconvincing answer to the
question about the rolling back last year of the Police
Order of 2002 and allowing the Levies, which are under
‘Sardars’ (chieftains), to play a key role of maintaining
law and order in the province.

He said the order replacing the Levies with police was an
ill-conceived decision. “We have a system and tradition in
Balochistan; Islamabad cannot impose new laws and change on

In reply to a question about the issue of ‘Kalpars’ (people
of the Bugti sub-clan expelled from Dera Bugti), he accused
the federal government of interfering in the affairs of the
Bugti tribe.

“Are Islamabad and petty government servants our uncles to
dictate against the decision of Bugti jirga,” Mr Shahzain
said, adding that elders of the tribe representing 150,000
individuals had taken a decision to expel 700 Kalpars.

“The will of jirga and the majority has to be respected.”


09, March, 2012


Massive power rate hike on the cards


By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD, March 8: Taking a U-turn on its ‘principled
stand’, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority
(Nepra) is likely to increase electricity tariff by a
massive 83 per cent (Rs6.50 per unit) for billing month of
April, the single largest increase in the country’s
history, under the monthly fuel adjustment mechanism.

The unprecedented increase in power tariff will break
Nepra’s own record of Rs3.03 per unit increase allowed a
few days ago to be recovered during the billing month of
March. The combined effect of the two increases (to be
recovered in March and April) will translate into an
additional burden of Rs9.53 per unit on all consumers — up
by about 123 per cent.

A senior Nepra official said that the regulator would be
holding a hearing on March 20 to pass on the impact of
international fuel costs and overall energy mix for four
previous months — October, November and December of 2011
and January 2012.
He said that Nepra could not pass on fuel adjustment to
consumers over the last four months due to a case in the
Lahore High Court and asserted that it was now left with no
option, but to cumulatively increase the tariff for four
months now that the case had been disposed of.

He said the total impact of fuel adjustment would be around
Rs6.50 per unit because Nepra had already completed its in-
house calculations.

On the basis of data provided by Central Power Purchase
Agency (CPPA) on behalf of distribution companies of Wapda
over fuel cost and energy mix along with system losses,
Nepra has calculated a tariff increase of Rs2.24 per unit
for October, Rs1.3 per unit for November, 99 paisa per unit
for December and Rs1.96 per unit for January.

Only a few days ago, Nepra had rejected a request by the
ministry of water and power to assume furnace oil price at
Rs 46,000 per ton for the current year that prevailed in
financial year 2010-11 keeping in view economic and social
policy objectives of the federal government.

The ministry had also sought to allow adequate transition
time for the minimisation of subsidies, financial
sustainability and feasibility of tariffs and financial
stability of the sector.

The ministry claims that calculating base tariff on the
basis of Rs 66,723 for financial year 2011-12 would require
the government to cater for additional subsidy (in excess
of Rs50 billion budgeted for current year) This would
jeopardise financial sustainability of the sector and
financial constraints and limitations of restrictions
imposed under the fiscal responsibility and debt limitation
act, the ministry fears.

Nepra rejected the ministry’s plea on the ground that it
would violate the Nepra Act. It had taken the stand that
Nepra, while determining tariff, had to “protect interests
of consumers against monopolistic and oligopolistic
practices, encourage efficiency and quality of services and
to eliminate exploitation and minimise economic distortions
under clause 31 of the Nepra Act”.

However, while calculating fuel-based tariff increase for
the last four months Nepra has now changed its ‘principled
stand’, according to an official. He said Nepra had already
approved energy cost at Rs6.44 per unit for July, Rs6.7 per
unit for August and Rs6.55 per unit for Sept 2011, which if
calculated for October, November and December should have
brought down the fuel-based tariff by about Rs3-4 per unit.
These base energy costs approved by the Nepra are available
on its website.

Nepra has now indirectly accepted the power ministry’s
stand by calculating energy cost on the basis of Rs46,000
per ton.


09, March, 2012


SC to frame charges of contempt against Awan


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 8: The Supreme Court decided on Thursday
to frame contempt charge against former law minister Babar
Awan for his media jibe at the judiciary.

Mr Awan and some federal ministers launched a tirade
against the apex court at a press conference on Dec 1,
2011, soon after it had ordered an inquiry into the memo
scandal by Tariq Khosa and attacked the family of a sitting
SC judge for being brother of Mr Khosa.

On March 1, a bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and
Justice Athar Saeed reserved its judgment whether to
discharge contempt notice or to frame charge against Mr

“After going   though the documentary record and video
recording of   the press conference, prime facie a case of
contempt has   been made out against Babar Awan, former law
minister and   PPP Vice-President, for addressing a press
conference at the Press Information Department (PID),” the
court said in its order.

Proper contempt proceedings would commence on March 20, it

Advocate Ali Zafar, the counsel for Mr Awan, had argued at
the last hearing that the dignity of an institution did not
rest on punishment.

Courts, he said, should always take a lenient view if a
person appeared and tendered an apology.

The former law minister had submitted a written statement
expressing regrets over the contents of the press
conference and assuring the court that there was no
intention or malice to ridicule the judiciary.

It also said that he had the highest respect, honour and
regard for the judiciary, and since the bar and bench were
part of one chariot, defamation of one would cause a loss
to the other.

“If in case there was an impression that he (Mr Awan) in
any manner was disrespectful to the judiciary, then being a
senior advocate of the court he unreservedly and
emphatically submits his regrets and assures the court that
there was absolutely neither any intention nor malice at
all,” the statement said.


09, March, 2012


Strike in T.M. Khan against Waheeda’s Disqualification


Bureau Report

HYDERABAD, March 8: On the call of the local chapter of
PPP, a strike was observed on Thursday in all the towns of
Tando Mohammad Khan district in protest against the
decision of the Election Commission (EC) to bar Waheeda
Shah from elections for two years.

Ms Shah, a PPP candidate for the PS-53 constituency,
slapped EC staff during by-elections on Feb 25 and a case
was registered against her. Subsequently, the EC not only
disqualified her for two years but also cancelled the
results of the elections in which she polled the most

On Thursday, most shops and business centres remained
closed in Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Ghulam Hyder, Bulri
Shah Karim and other towns of the district and rallies were
organised in protest against the EC decision.

Addressing a press conference, district PPP chief Haji
Mohammad Amin Lakho said it was ironic that Ms Shah was
disqualified on the eve of the International Women’s Day.

Mr Lakho said Ms Shah bagged 31,000 votes and the EC’s
decision against her “was an insult to those who voted for
her” on Feb 25.

He was of the opinion that serious incidents of violence
were reported from Punjab and Balochistan during the by-
elections but “nobody took notice of these cases”.

Mr Lakho added that the EC should review its decision.


09, March, 2012


Senate gets new rules of business


By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD, March 8: After about 24 years, the Senate
approved on Thursday new rules of business, making it
mandatory for ministers to be in the house during the
question hour, introducing ‘prime minister’s question hour’
and abolishing discretionary powers of chairman to appoint
the leader of opposition.

Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement,
head of the Standing Committee on Rules and Privileges,
tabled the revised rules which were unanimously approved by
the house.

‘Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate’
which were approved in 1988 have been repealed and the new
rules took effect immediately.

The term of the present Senate is ending on Sunday and new
members will take oath on Monday.

The revised rules give more powers to standing committees
and now every department or division of ministries will be
bound to obey their orders and directives. The presence of
ministers concerned in meetings of the committees has been
made mandatory.

According to Rule 62, “last half an hour of a sitting shall
be utilised as Zero Hour to take up matters of urgent
public importance.” However, the members will be required
to give a notice in writing to the secretary, one hour
before the commencement of the sitting. A new chapter (No
VIII) has been introduced in the rules to state conditions
for raising issues during ‘Zero Hour’.

The ‘Zero Hour’ has been introduced to stop the misuse of
‘points of order’. For a few years, members in almost every
sitting have made it a practice to speak on any subject,
even personal issues, on a ‘point of order’ which can only
be raised by a member to point out some violation of rules.

The perennial issue of ministers’ absence from the house,
particularly during the question hour, has forced the
members to amend the rules and make it mandatory for
ministers and ministers of state or advisers to remain
present in the house during the question hour. Now they
cannot leave the house till the business concerning their
ministries has been disposed of.

The prime minister is required to respond directly to
questions in every session. Rule 47 states: “In every
session that exceeds seven days, there shall be one hour
which shall be called ‘prime minister’s hour’.”

The chairman has no more discretionary powers to nominate
the leader of opposition and he will now be required to
seek written applications from members nominating their
leader of opposition and after verification of signatures,
he shall declare a member having the support of greatest
number as leader.

Last year, the Senate proceedings during the budget session
were marred because of the boycott by a group of opposition
members in protest against Chairman Farooq H. Naek’s
decision to nominate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri as the
leader of opposition.

It has now been made mandatory for independent members to
either join the treasury or opposition benches within 15
days of taking oath. They have also been allowed to form
their parliamentary group and nominate a leader.

A no-confidence motion against the chairman or deputy
chairman will not be entertained if it does not carry the
signatures of at least one-fourth (27) members of the
house. Previously, even a single member could have moved a
motion seeking removal of the chairman or his deputy.

Like the National Assembly, the annual reports of the
Council of Common Interests, the National Economic Council,
the National Finance Commission, the Auditor General and
the Council of Islamic Ideology will also be tabled in the
Senate for discussion.


09, March, 2012


Do more mantra doesn’t go down well in Pakistan: envoy


By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, March 8: When Pakistan is asked to do more in
the war against terror, it does not go well with the
Pakistanis because “we are doing what we can”, says
Ambassador Sherry Rehman.

“We will respect the time that it takes them” to complete a
parliamentary review of Pakistan’s relations with the US
and “we look forward to hearing from them when they’re
ready,” says State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

The two statements coincide with a report by Washington
Post’s associate editor, David Ignatius, on Thursday,
saying that the United States and Pakistan have now decided
to build a “calmer, quieter relationship with lower
expectations, greater distance and fewer feuds”.

At a Women’s Day function on Wednesday night — the largest
ever at the Pakistan Embassy — Ambassador Rehman noted that
“the Pakistan story you hear in Washington is often only
about the country that fights the frontlines of terror and

 This, she said, was a wrong impression.

“We are not just about bombs and bullets, Pakistan is also
about women who lead the way forward,” the ambassador said.
“We have had a woman prime minister, women speakers,
judges, foreign ministers, and now we have a major

Referring to the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and
others killed in the fight against terrorism, Ambassador
Rehman said: “Many better people before me have had to take
bullets … so when we are asked to ‘do more’ it doesn’t go
down too well.”

“We are doing what we can with a war next door, a war that
the combined resources of the US and forty plus nations
have not been able to win,” she said.

At the State Department, spokesperson Nuland told
journalists that the US understood Pakistan’s need to
review the relationship.

“We continue to be in dialogue with them about an
appropriate time for us to resume our own discussion,” she
Ms Nuland also refused to criticise Pakistan over the Iran
gas pipeline project.

The Washington Post report noted that this changed tone
indicated a new understanding between the US and Pakistan.

“The two countries, in effect, have taken a step back from
their intense partnership and moved toward a more pragmatic
framework,” Mr Ignatius wrote.

Both sides seem to have become comfortable with the
decision to maintain a distance with each other, he noted.

To complete this reset, the two nations will have to work
out “quiet compromises” on three key issues: drone strikes,
border access to Afghanistan; and reconciliation talks with
the Taliban.

“On each, the trick will be finding a formula that balances
Pakistani sovereignty and American security interests,” Mr
Ignatius wrote.

The drone attacks, he noted, had already reduced and the US
now closely monitors the strikes, preventing the CIA from
making unilateral decisions.


09, March, 2012


Biggest solar storm in years hits Earth


WASHINGTON, March 8: One of the strongest solar storms in
years engulfed Earth on Thursday, but scientists said the
planet could have lucked out.

Hours after the storm arrived, officials said there were no
reports of problems with power grids, satellites or other
technologies that are often disrupted by solar storms.
But that still can change as the storm shakes the planet’s
magnetic field in ways that could disrupt technology. Early
indications show that it is about 10 times stronger than
the normal solar wind that hits Earth.

The storm started with a massive solar flare on Tuesday
evening and grew as it raced outwards from the sun,
expanding like a giant soap bubble, scientists said.

The storm struck at about 6am in a direction that causes
the least amount of problems, said Joe Kunches, a scientist
at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s
Space Weather Prediction Centre.

“It’s not a terribly strong event. It’s a very interesting
event,” he said.

Initially, scientists figured the storm would be the worst
since 2006, but now it seemed only as bad as the ones a few
months ago, he said.

Forecasters can predict the speed a solar storm travels and
its strength, but the north-south orientation is the wild
card. And this time, Earth got dealt a good card with a
northern orientation, which is “pretty benign”, Kunches
said. If it had been southern, that would have caused the
most damaging technological disruption and biggest auroras.

“We’re not out of the woods,” Kunches said on Thursday
morning. “It was a good start. If I’m a power grid, I’m
really happy so far.”

But that storm orientation could and is changing, he said.

“It could flip-flop and we could end up with the strength
of the storm still to come,” Kunches said from the NOAA
forecast centre.—AP


09, March, 2012


Storm may intensify, says Suparco

KARACHI: The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research
Commission (Suparco) on Thursday said the storm could
intensify by Friday.

A statement on Thursday said the Suparco was monitoring the
effects of the geomagnetic storm through its Space Weather
Monitoring Facilities.

“The magneto grams recorded by Abdus Salam Geomagnetic
Observatory at Sonmiani are showing disturbances,” said the


09, March, 2012


CM assails workers’ Murder


QUETTA, March 8: Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani
condemned on Thursday the killing of labourers in Kech
district and termed the incident a barbarian act.

In a statement, he directed law-enforcement agencies to
utilise all resources for the early arrest of those
involved in the killing of innocent people.

He said the elements involved in the killing of labourers,
passengers, teachers, doctors and skilled persons did not
deserve forgiveness because they were violating Islamic,
human and social values. —Staff Correspondent


09, March, 2012

Law urged to resolve missing persons issue


By Amjad Mahmood

LAHORE, March 8: Urging the government to work on a
legislation to regulate the role of security agencies, the
Pakistan Muslim League-N has suggested that a special
parliamentary committee should monitor what progress has
been made in efforts to resolve the missing persons issue
and recommend additional measures for the purpose within
two months.

The suggestion is contained in a resolution submitted by
the party to the National Assembly secretariat on Thursday.

Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar said at a press
conference that the speaker should set up an eight-member
committee with equal representation from the treasury and
the opposition.

He said the committee would consult families of missing
people and victims of terrorism and take briefings from the
intelligence agencies concerned before proposing steps in
addition to the legislation for resolving the issue.

Alleging that President Asif Zardari and the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) director general were striking a deal,
the PML-N leader warned the government that there would be
complications over the issue of extending the tenure of Gen
Shuja Pasha. He said he would discuss different aspects of
the matter in public.

“A compromise between the president and the ISI DG will not
resolve the matter. Rather the so far administrative
subject will become a political and possibly a judicial
issue because the PML-N has the right to speak on all its
aspects,” he said.

Chaudhry Nisar alleged that the president wanted to extend
Gen Pasha’s tenure in order to get his support for the
government’s stance in the memo case by showing that the
administration was ready to accept the army officer who was
the main accuser in the case.

He also urged the ISI chief, who is retiring on March 18,
and the armed forces to rethink before accepting the
extension from the government against whom he had levelled
serious allegations in the apex court.

“One should serve honourably and retire honourably like the
air force chief (Rao Qamar Suleman),” he said.

Chaudhry Nisar also called for mounting pressure on the
government for holding general election in September or
October, as announced by the prime minister on several
occasions, and said that the PPP and its allies appeared to
be backing out of the announcements by talking of holding
the polls in March next year.

He said the opposition must join hands within and outside
parliament on the issue and the PML-N would play the role
of a catalyst in this regard.

Chaudhry Nisar said the PPP itself should have held its
candidate accountable before another institution took
action over an assault on polling staff. He also criticised
the ruling party for making controversial the decision of
an “independent Election Commission” against Waheeda Shah.


09, March, 2012


Gilani asks Malik to visit Balochistan


By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD, March 8: Following a lukewarm response to the
government’s proposal to hold an all-party conference on
the issue of Balochistan, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
on Thursday asked Interior Minister Rehman Malik to visit
the violence-hit province to supervise the implementation
of the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan package there.

According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s
Secretariat, the decision to ask the minister to proceed to
Quetta and “take further steps to implement the package”
was taken by Mr Gilani after meeting Mr Malik.

The statement said that during the meeting Mr Malik briefed
the prime minister on the law and order situation in the

Sources said the purpose behind sending the interior
minister to Balochistan was to collect first-hand
information about the situation obtaining there.

They said that Mr Gilani asked the minister to visit the
province and formulate a comprehensive report on the

In a related development, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab
Aslam Raisani and newly-elected senators from the province
called on President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday.

Faryal Talpur was present on the occasion, an official
statement said.

The senators-elect who met the president were Ali Madad
Jattak, Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi, Sardar Fateh Mohammad
Hasni, Rozi Khan Kakar, Mohammad Yousuf Baloch and Sabir

On the occasion, Mr Zardari expressed the hope that the
newly-elected senators would work with devotion to
strengthen the democratic institutions in the country. They
would also play an active role for the welfare and
development of their areas, said the statement.


09, March, 2012


Osama’s widows booked for illegal stay

By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD, March 8: After keeping them in custody for about
10 months, the government has registered a case against
adult relatives of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden who was
killed in Abbottabad by US commandos on May 2 last year.

Three widows and eight children of Osama, who had been
taken into custody by security departments, have been
brought to Islamabad from an unspecified place.

“They have been shifted to Islamabad and a five-bedroom
house has been bought for them. Meanwhile, the Federal
Investigation Agency has registered a case against adult
members of his family under the Foreigners Act,” Interior
Minister Rehman Malik told reporters here on Thursday.

Sources in the interior ministry said the countries of
origin of the widows had refused to accept them, compelling
the authorities to provide them shelter here for an
indefinite period.

The interior minister told the Abbottabad inquiry
commission on Wednesday that the members of the family
could not be repatriated to their country for lack of valid

They were residing in the country illegally, without travel
documents, he said.

Another source said the government would wait for the
commission’s report and guidelines before taking a decision
about them.

The family is reported to have been shifted to a house in a
posh area in the federal capital. There is security in and
around the house.

Mr Malik said the members of the family had all legal
rights to defend themselves in the court. They had been
shifted three days ago to the house which had been declared
a sub-jail, he said.
“Osama’s family is on judicial remand and they will be
allowed to proceed abroad after meeting all legal
requirements. We leave everything to courts,” he said.

Replying to a question, he said the case had been
registered only against adult members of the family while
the children were free to go anywhere.

“The family was handed over to the FIA in judicial custody.
Their entry into Pakistan was illegal,” he said, adding
that his testimony before the commission had been
misreported. They had been arrested under Section 14 of the
Foreigners Act, he said.

MISSING PERSONS: During a meeting with Amna Masood Janjua
who represents families of missing people, Mr Malik said:
“The list of 293 missing persons should be sent to the
ministry of interior of Afghanistan to check if they are in
Afghan jails and Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA to check
if they are in Guantanamo Bay.”


10, March, 2012


Gen Zahir to replace Pasha in ISI


By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 9: The government has appointed Lt Gen
Zahir ul Islam as the next head of Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), the country’s premier intelligence
agency, ending speculations about giving another extension
to Lt Gen Shuja Pasha.

“Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has appointed Lt
General Zahir ul Islam as new Director General Inter
Services Intelligence (ISI),” a brief statement issued on
Friday by the prime minister’s office said without giving
further details.

His appointment was made on the recommendation of Army
Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Gen Islam, who is currently the Commander of V Corps,
Karachi, will take charge of his new assignment on March 18
when Gen Pasha will retire after heading the ISI for over
three years.

Gen Pasha’s strong loyalty to the army chief earlier won
him two one-year extensions in 2010 and 2011.

The position of the Commander of Karachi V Corps will be
filled by Lt Gen Ejaz Chaudhry, currently the Director
General of Rangers, Sindh. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Maj
Gen Rizwan Akhter, the Commander of South Waziristan, is
likely to move to Karachi to take over Gen Chaudhry’s
position at the Sindh Rangers.

The appointment of Gen Islam, who previously headed the
ISI’s internal wing under Gen Pasha for almost two years,
signals continuity at the ISI as Afghan peace and
reconciliation efforts are picking momentum and coalition
forces are scheduled to complete their withdrawal by 2014.

The change of guard at the ISI takes place almost at the
same time as the parliamentary review of ties with the US
in the aftermath of last year’s Salala attack, is
tentatively planned to be completed marking the start of a
new phase of ties with Washington.

Technically, ISI has little to do with conduct of relations
with the US, but because of the ongoing intelligence
cooperation between Pakistan and the US, both CIA and ISI
play a determining role in the bilateral relationship.

Gen Pasha had taken command of the ISI on a high note and
was seen by the US as someone who had strong anti-Taliban
views and could reorient the spy agency accused of
maintaining close contacts with Taliban. But, as the CIA-
ISI cooperation ran into problems, the Americans appeared
to be less enthusiastic about him.

Gen Pasha came under intense criticism at home after Osama
bin Laden’s denouement last year for his agency’s failure
to detect Al Qaeda chief living close to the Pakistan
Military Academy in Kakul and more significantly for not
being able to know that the Americans planned to carry out
an operation deep inside Pakistan to take out the fugitive
terror outfit leader.

Addressing an in-camera session of parliament, Gen Pasha
had then offered to step down.

The outgoing ISI chief’s role in the memo-gate made him
more controversial.

Following Mansoor Ijaz’s disclosure in an article in the
Financial Times, Gen Pasha travelled to London to see him
(Mansoor Ijaz) without the approval of the prime minister,
who is technically his boss.

Later, Gen Pasha pressed for probe into the memogate by a
Supreme Court appointed commission against wishes of the
government which wanted the investigation to be carried out
by the bi-partisan parliamentary committee of national

Mr Ijaz, who is now a star witness in the memogate, had
also alleged that Gen Pasha had visited Arab countries to
seek support for a coup in the aftermath of the US raid on
the OBL residence in Abbotabad.

Another extension for Gen Pasha was opposed by the main
opposition PML-N.

The new ISI chief, who has a little over two years in
active military service (till Oct 2014) is said to be a
typical infantry soldier.

He is from the Punjab regiment and has held several high-
profile positions. He was the Chief of Staff at the Army
Strategic Forces Command from 2004-2006.

For the next two years (2006-2008) he commanded the 12th
Infantry Division based in Murree. Moving to ISI in 2008 he
was assigned the internal wing, where he was responsible
for internal security, law and order, coordination with
law-enforcement agencies and supporting counter-terrorism
operations. As the Commander of V Corps he oversaw an
operation launched in Karachi after last year’s ethnic

10, March, 2012


Foreigners among 19 killed in drone attacks


Dawn Report

LADHA, March 9: At least 19 militants, among them
foreigners, were killed when US drones fired missiles on a
compound and a vehicle in different areas of South
Waziristan on Friday.

According to intelligence sources, up to 12 militants were
killed in the attack on the vehicle in Jandool Mandow area
of Shaktoi, near North Waziristan. The drones fired four
missiles and foreigners were among the casualties, they

However, independent sources said that eight missiles were
fired on the vehicle at around 5pm in which 15 people were

Six Uzbeks died when drones fired two missiles at the
compound in Nesphah, 12km from Jandool Mandow.

Seven troops, nine militants killed

MIRAMSHAH: Four security personnel and nine militants were
killed in a gunbattle in Wacha Bibi area of North
Waziristan Agency on Friday, sources said.

(AFP quoted a senior security official as saying that seven
troops were killed in a militant attack)

The sources said militants attacked an army patrol near the
base camp in Wacha Bibi, some 30km west of Miramshah, with
rockets, killing four troops and injuring two others.
Security forces fired back, killing nine attackers. Gunship
helicopters were called in from the main base in Miramshah.


10, March, 2012


Hearings to focus on roles of Aslam Beg, Asad Durrani: SC


By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, March 9: The Supreme Court appears to have
succeeded in silencing its detractors who accuse it of
targeting only politicians when during the hearing on
Friday of a case relating the doling out of money to
politicians by the ISI in the 1990s, it said that the
proceedings would now solely focus on the roles played by
former army chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg, former ISI
chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani and then head of Mehran
Bank Younus Habib and not pay much attention to politicians
who were the alleged beneficiaries.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice
Tariq Parvez decided to hold future proceedings on the
basis of what had transpired in the court on Thursday and

The petitioner of the case agreed with this assessment. “We
are expecting a judgment on the political activity of the
armed forces and intelligence agencies and not against
politicians,” commented Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for
Air Martial (retd) Asghar Khan.

The court is hearing the 1996 petition by the Tehrik-i-
Istiqlal chief who 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.
However, before the   court shaped the outline of the case,
it took to task Gen   Aslam Beg for comments he had made in
his affidavit filed   in reply to Thursday’s testimony Younus
Habib. The comments   were seen as an attempt to malign the

“That in submitting this counter-affidavit I sincerely
thank this Honourable Court, for making me complete my
‘hat-trick’, of appearing thrice before this apex court --
first before Chief Justice Afzal Zullah, second time before
Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and now before this
honourable court, under the dynamic leadership of Chief
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. This is an honour
bestowed on me, which no other COAS can possibly claim,”
Gen Beg wrote, adding: “And yet, I wonder: ‘Jane kis jurm
ki payee hay saza yad naheen (Why am I being punished, I
know not).”

“Is he (Gen Beg) here to play golf? He should tender
apology or we will put him to task,” the chief justice

At this, Gen Beg jotted down his ‘sincere apology’ for the
paragraph in his counter-affidavit with a request to delete
it. The paragraph was removed.

Advocate Akram Sheikh, representing Gen Beg, said his
client was being maligned at the behest of the PPP
government and requested his client be disassociated from
the proceedings.

Advocate Salman Akram suggested a way forward through
constitution of a commission similar to that of the
memogate scandal to further investigate the allegations. He
said the Supreme Court had done a similar exercise earlier
and it would be appropriate that the court should treat the
available evidence as adequate and punish those who had
violated the law.

But the court asked the counsel to seek instructions from
his client what he wanted in real term since it would be
difficult for him to prove the allegations levelled by Asad

After seeking fresh instructions, Advocate Salman said his
client wanted a ‘symbolic judgment’ and wrote on a plain
paper four precise pleadings.
According to him, Asghar Khan is seeking a declaration and
direction that persons, including defence and army officers
(respondents in the case) who acted to interfere with and
manoeuvre the electoral process in any manner, including
through disbursement of funds, subverted the Constitution.

Besides, the court should also declare that no member of
the armed forces was obliged to obey a command in violation
of oath of his office and could not take the defence of
“command of the superior”.

“Receiving secret funds and non-disclosure thereof
constitutes serious electoral fraud with consequences under
the election laws,” he said.

He sought a direction for the federation to initiate
appropriate proceedings under criminal and election laws
against the alleged givers and recipients of funds for
political purposes, including the respondents and persons
named in Asad Durrani’s letter to then prime minister on
June 7, 1994, and his July 1994 affidavit. Younus Habib
declined to add further to his statement he had filed on
Thursday, involving the former army chief and former
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan -- the main characters behind
the scam.

Before rising for the day, the court ordered Attorney
General Maulvi Anwarul Haq to ask the government whether
the reports of a commission set up to investigate the
Mehrangate scandal had been made public and, if not, what
were the reasons behind it. The court, however, said these
reports should be made available for judges’ perusal in-


10, March, 2012


Mehrangate ‘stars’ refute each other

Contradictory claims were made in the Supreme Court by
former ISI chief Asad Durrani and former army chief Gen
Aslam Beg, with the former in a sworn statement conceding
that he had received instructions from the latter for the
disbursement of election donations and Gen Beg declaring
the revelations by Younus Habib as a bolt from the blue.

“This is totally mala fide attempt to dramatise and
scandalise the sanctity of the proceedings pending before
the court, which has given a new direction by the sinister
intelligence behind this whole affair,” Aslam Beg said in
his counter-affidavit. He said it was also part of the
record that Interior Minister Rehman Malik travelled twice
to Germany to scandalise the issue, which was first blasted
by late Maj-Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar, the interior
minister in Benazir Bhutto’s second government.

Asad Durrani admitted that he had received instructions
from Gen Beg that a section of the business community in
Karachi had raised some contribution to support the
election campaign of IJI and he could arrange it for
distribution under a formula to be conveyed later by the
election cell set up at the president’s office.

“As already stated, there is no political cell in the ISI.
However, political work could be done by some designated
persons,” he said, adding that he was not aware of the
Mehran Bank scandal in 1994, but since he had been asked
only to provide details of Rs140 million spent in the
election, he never tried to find out under whose
instructions the amount was collected from the business

Mr Durrani took full responsibility of the operation, but
said the ISI as an institution was kept out of all this.

Advocate Akram Sheikh, the counsel for Gen Aslam Beg,
admitted the existence of the political cell created under
an executive order of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto in 1975, the presence of which was unwarranted and
an interference in the fundamental rights of people
guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution.

“This court can declare that no such political cell be
allowed to continue in security agencies,” he said, adding
that the petitioner had also confined himself to the extent
of existence of the political cell in ISI, as was evident
from his letters addressed to the court.


10, March, 2012


Baloch separatists not to be backed, Pakistan assured


By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 9: As the insurgency in Balochistan gets
into international limelight, several foreign governments
have assured Pakistan of steps to curb activities of Baloch
separatists on their soil.

“We have been assured that their respective territories
would not be used for anti-Pakistan activities,” Foreign
Office spokesman Abdul Basit said on Friday while
responding to a question about enhanced activities of
expatriate Baloch activists, who have been rejuvenated by
the US Congressional hearing and tabling of a resolution on

The spokesman said that taking notice of those activities,
the foreign ministry “made demarches to the relevant

The Embassy of Switzerland was the latest one to get such a
protest note last week.

Many Baloch leaders and activists have taken refuge in
European countries from where they have been actively
promoting their cause.

Pakistan has on several occasions unsuccessfully tried to
block the rebel leaders from getting asylum in those
Western governments have been generally sympathetic to
Baloch separatists and some of them are allegedly
patronising them indirectly.The spokesman said Balochistan
was an ‘internal matter’ which would be dealt with in “our
own constitutional political way”.

Replying to a question about Kashmir, he said normalisation
of relations with India depended on resolution of the
Kashmir issue.

“Doubtless, we are taking steps on the path to normalise
Pakistan-India relations, but reaching the final
destination will inevitably be contingent upon realisation
of Kashmiris’ aspirations,” Mr Basit said.

“Kashmiris have given enormous sacrifices in their
legitimate struggle. The democratic government and the
people of Pakistan strongly believe that the settlement of
the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the
relevant UN resolutions is essential for viable peace in
South Asia,” he said.

The two countries have made significant progress towards
liberalising trade. The federal cabinet last month took an
important decision about the negative trade list. It has
already approved in principle the MFN status for India.

These developments gave rise to fears that the government
has relegated the Kashmir issue on its set of priorities
for ties with Delhi.

But, Mr Basit insists that “Jammu and Kashmir dispute is
about the people of Kashmir; it is about their inalienable
right to self-determination. There is, therefore, no
question of freezing this issue or putting this core
dispute on the back burner. Realistically speaking, nor it
can be done”.


10, March, 2012


Zardari calls joint session on 17th

Dawn Report

ISLAMABAD, March 9: President Asif Ali Zardari has summoned
the National Assembly session on March 14 and is likely to
address a joint sitting of parliament on March 17.

According to an official announcement on Friday, the
Presidency summoned the NA session on the advice of Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“The summoning of the session has been rescheduled in view
of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Asia
Regional Conference to be held on March 12-16 in Karachi
because it would not be possible for several
parliamentarians, including Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, to
attend the NA session that was earlier called on March 12,”
the president’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said. After
the NA session is prorogued, a joint sitting of the two
houses of parliament will be called on March 17, he said,
adding that it would be the fifth address of the president
to the joint sitting.

According to officials, President Zardari will highlight
four years’ performance of the PPP-led coalition government
and speak about “what to do” in the period leading to the
next general election.

The 40th National Assembly session — the last sitting of
the fourth parliamentary year — was called to elect
senators from the federal capital, but it may not be
prorogued and continue to discuss some key issues,
including Pakistan-US relations against the backdrop of
Nato air strikes on Salala checkpost in November, the memo
scandal and the law and order situation in Balochistan.

Recommendations prepared by the Parliamentary Committee on
National Security on future relations with the United
States may also come up for discussion.

The committee began its proceedings on Dec 2 with a note of
advice from Prime Minister Gilani that ties with the US
were important for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan
imbroglio, but needed recalibration in accordance with
strategic interests.
President Zardari is likely to face heckling and rough
opposition during his speech. Leader of the Opposition in
the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has said in
a statement: “It will not be a smooth sailing for the
coalition this time during the joint sitting.”

A PML-N spokesman told Dawn that a strategy would be
prepared before the joint sitting and Chaudhry Nisar had
informed the party leadership about it.

Although he did not elaborate, observers think that the
opposition is likely to play up the government’s inability
to hold the earlier announced joint session of parliament
to debate and approve the fresh terms of engagement with
the US, prepared and handed over by the parliamentary

The government had announced that the PCNS’s report would
be presented in the joint sitting, which may be held in

The lower house is expected to approve the Industrial
Relations Act 2012, which was passed by the Senate on
Tuesday, to meet the deadline of March 17. The ordinance
will lapse after that date.


10, March, 2012


Conspiracy under way to promote secession: Jamali


By Ahmad Hassan

ISLAMABAD, March 9: Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali, the outgoing
deputy chairman of Senate, said on Friday that Balochistan
faced a serious crisis because there was an international
conspiracy to force the province to secede.
Speaking to a group of journalists at a reception given in
his honour, Senator Jamali, who hails from Balochistan and
will retire from the upper house of parliament on March 12,
said the problem of forced disappearances and dumping of
bullet-riddled bodies would have to be solved immediately
before anyone could hope for peace in the country’s largest

He warned that Balochistan could “slip out of control” if
the federal and provincial governments, political parties,
lawmakers and bureaucrats looked on silently as the
province continued to burn.

Balochistan would have to be treated at par with other
provinces, otherwise the situation in the province would
reach a point of no return, Senator Jamali said.

Answering a question, he said leader of the house Nayyar
Hussain Bokhari would likely be the next chairman of the
Senate, adding that Sabir Baloch of the PPP had emerged as
a strong contender for the post of deputy chairman. While
each MPA in the province, he said, was getting Rs250
million as development fund, a Senator was given only Rs10


10, March, 2012


Kharif crops face serious water shortfall


By Khaleeq Kiani

ISLAMABAD, March 9: The coming Kharif crops face a serious
water crisis because estimates of shortfall at the start of
the sowing season in April range between 60 per cent and 70
per cent.

Sources told Dawn on Friday the Tarbela reservoir touched
its dead level early this week while the Mangla dam, which
had only 13 feet of additional water, was expected to reach
its dead level early next week.

The relevant agencies and the provinces are anticipating
severe shortage in the last week of March and have begun
reducing discharges.

The sources said the Punjab irrigation department had
informed Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and all other
relevant departments of the looming water shortage and
warned that the crisis could last till the end of April if
temperatures did not begin to rise in the northern parts of
the country soon.

The sources said that water flows in the major rivers had
declined significantly in recent days.

They said the flows in Jhelum river, which stood at 28,000
cusecs a few days ago, came down to 24,000 cusecs on
Thursday, plummeting further to 8,000 cusecs on Friday.

The flows in the Kabul river have also come down to 6,000
cusecs from 10,000 cusecs a few days ago. Similarly, the
flows in the Indus river have dropped to 19,000 cusecs from
22,000 cusecs.

As a result, Punjab’s water share from the Indus zone has
been exhausted even though crops in the province still need
some watering.

In an attempt to minimise the adverse effects of the
shortage, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) and the
Punjab irrigation department have reached an understanding
to readjust provincial water shares. In case of a severe
crisis, Punjab stands to lose the most.

The Irsa has decided to close with effect from Sunday
Punjab’s two canals on the Taunsa barrage — Muzaffargarh
and D.G. Khan — from where the province has been drawing
about 4,000 cusecs of water. In return, Punjab will start
getting 4,000 cusecs from the Mangla zone through Punjnad.

Discharges through the Thall canal will also be reduced
from 6,000 to 4,000 cusecs. Moreover, Punjab’s share from
the Trimmu barrage will be cut by 50 per cent on Sunday,
from the existing flows of about 9,000 cusecs.
The water so saved would be diverted to Sindh downstream of
Punjnad barrage, the sources said.

“The water situation is really alarming,” a government
official remarked. He said the Irsa had convened a meeting
of its technical committee on March 16 to assess the
situation and finalise estimates for water availability
during the coming crop season.

When contacted, an Irsa   spokesman acknowledged that there
would be a shortfall in   the early part of April, but added
that the shortage would   not cross the 70 per cent mark. He
said the standing crops   would remain unaffected.

When asked about the Irsa’s current estimates of water
shortage, the spokesman simply said the relevant data would
be finalised at the meeting to be held on March 16.

According to the estimates released by Irsa on Friday, the
Tarbela dam was at its dead level of 1,378 feet, with
inflows of 19,700 cusecs and outflows of 19,100 cusecs.
Storage level at the Mangla dam stood at 1,053.9 feet on
Friday morning against its dead level of 1,040 feet.

Inflows at Mangla were recorded at 7,998 cusecs against
outflows of 35,000 cusecs. As a result, total inflows at
rim stations were recorded at 52,611 cusecs on Friday
morning against total outflows below rim stations at about
80,000 cusecs.


10, March, 2012


Pasha’s exit a relief for US intelligence community, say


By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, March 9: Indicating a new, careful approach
towards Pakistan, the White House and the State Department
on Friday refused to offer off-the-cuff remarks on the
appointment of a new ISI chief in Pakistan, saying that
they would comment on it later.

“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” said Principal
Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, when asked
to comment on Lt-Gen Zaheer ul Islam’s appointment as the
new ISI chief announced in Islamabad on Friday.

At the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was
even more careful when asked for comments. “I will send you
to our colleagues in the intelligence agencies,” she said.

“How will this appointment impact US-Pakistan relations?”
asked another journalist.

The United States, she said, was looking forward to a
parliamentary review Pakistan was holding to reassess the
relationship between the two countries.

When journalists said they were more interested in knowing
how this appointment may affect the relationship, the State
Department official said she could not speak about this
particular individual. “We always want our relationship
with Pakistan to be on an upward trajectory,” she added.

US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told a gathering
at the Harvard University last month that the CIA-ISI
relationship was “still cooperative” despite tensions
between the two countries.

Both governments realised that “we have a lot in common on
counter-terrorism and we still have a decent relationship
with the intelligence”, he said, adding this might change
if Gen Pasha announced his retirement.

Commenting on Gen Islam’s   appointment, the US media noted
on Friday that Mr Pasha’s   departure would be “a relief to
the American intelligence   community which had a working, if
frosty, relationship with   him”.

The media noted that the relationship between US and
Pakistani intelligence agencies got worse after US Special
Forces found and killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in
Abbottabad on May 2 last year.
Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan raised suspicions in
Washington that the country’s main spy agency had been
doing business with, or sheltering, America’s number one
enemy, the US media noted.




                   E D I T O R I A L N E W S


04, March, 2012


Senate elections


AFTER months of fervid speculation, the Senate elections
were in the end a relatively placid affair. With the
political configuration in the assemblies that elect
senators known, there was not much room for surprise about
the results once it had become clear that elections would
in fact be held on schedule. As expected, the PPP has
consolidated its position as the largest party in the upper
house. Though it is well short of a majority on its own,
when the seats of PPP allies are added the coalition at the
centre emerges with a comfortable majority. With a general
election due well before the next Senate election in March
2015, the real story going forward may be how other parties
aspiring to power will deal with the lopsided position in
the Senate. The PML-N, with a dozen-odd senators, will have
to contend with an upper house that is overwhelmingly
tilted in the other direction. While the Senate was by and
large an opposition-controlled chamber through much of the
1990s, the presence of such a significant number of PPP
senators could complicate rule by another party. For the
PTI, the challenge would be even more daunting: zero PTI
senators in an upper house of parliament would force the
party into some kind of a cooperative framework, if not an
outright coalition, with other parties, regardless of the
outcome in National Assembly elections. Were it to be re-
elected, the PPP would of course be in the most comfortable
of positions.

A point needs to be made about the criticism of the
elections being stage-managed, with the parties most likely
to win seats adjusting their candidates to ensure no real
competition. The surprise defeat of a PPP candidate on a
general Senate seat from Punjab would appear to suggest
that competition is inherently a better thing. However, the
allegations of vote-selling in Balochistan in particular,
but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, underline the
problem of open contests corrupting the voting process.
Unless the laws banning vote-selling can be made more
effective, Senate elections reflecting the party break-up
in provincial assemblies may be the lesser of two evils.

A word also on the value of continuity in the democratic
process. It was only a few weeks ago that the country was
in turmoil, the government seemingly on the verge of being
ousted. Instead, democratically elected assemblies have now
elected both halves of the Senate for the first time since
the 1970s. While Senate elections are no panacea, nor was
an early and possibly uncons-titutional ouster of the
government the answer. Let the system run and the people
decide. Nothing else has worked.


04, March, 2012


Inflationary trends

RESURGING inflation is bad news. It affects growth, dampens
business confidence and makes exports expensive. It also
reduces purchasing power and forces people from the low-
and fixed-income segments to compromise on their quality of
life. The escalation in prices last month does not augur
well for the economy or the people struggling to cope with
the effects of slow growth, falling incomes and increasing
job losses. The latest headline inflation data shows that
prices have increased by 11.05 per cent in February, up
from 10.1 per cent the previous month. Soaring global oil
prices, the depreciating rupee and a widening budget
deficit, which is forcing the government to print new
money, are to blame for the current price inflation. The
hefty increase in domestic oil and electricity prices
announced earlier this week to keep the budget deficit at a
manageable level will push consumer inflation higher during

Yet there is a silver lining. February inflation was lower
than the 12.85 per cent for the same month last year.
Similarly, the average inflation of 10.7 per cent in the
first eight months of the current financial year is much
lower than the 14.08 per cent for the same period last
fiscal. Although core (non-energy, non-food) inflation also
spiked by 0.3 per cent to 10.6 per cent last month, the
escalation was much lower than the 1.5 per cent recorded
for January. Still, the government should not allow this to
shift its focus from the problems besetting the economy for
several years. This should also not be used as a pretext by
the State Bank to increase the cost of borrowing at the
expense of private investment. The bank’s tight monetary
policy has failed to tame inflation because the price
escalation has more to do with rising global commodity and
oil rates than the increase in domestic demand that its
monetary policy targets to curtail. It has only discouraged
private investment at the expense of jobs and exports. A
better way of fighting persistent inflationary trends is to
implement the long overdue economic and fiscal reforms for
boosting the economy and encouraging private investment to
create jobs and increase incomes and exports.


04, March, 2012

Flawed legal system


TERRORISM needs to be dealt with on the military,
intelligence and legal fronts. However, while the
government has had mixed results on the battlefield and in
using intelligence to thwart potential attacks, it is on
the legal front where it has been found most wanting. An
example of its muddled priorities is that until recently a
special prosecutor hired to pursue several high-profile
cases in Rawalpindi’s anti-terrorism courts had not been
paid for his services. Resultantly, around 25 cases —
including those involving the attacks on the United Nations
World Food Programme office and the Naval Complex in
Islamabad — had been lying idle for a year, with the
prosecutor focusing on his private practice. Though the
funds have now reportedly been cleared, it is appalling
that such important cases should be held up because of
bureaucratic ineptitude. With bigger obstacles standing in
the way of the successful prosecution of terrorists — such
as a paralytic law-enforcement and legal system, and the
intimidation of witnesses — the fact that cases are stalled
because lawyers don’t get paid shows lack of seriousness on
the part of the state.

While our entire legal system suffers from malaise, there
should be a sense of urgency when it comes to prosecuting
suspected terrorists. Instead, suspects often walk free,
not because it has been conclusively proved that they are
innocent, but due to poor investigation techniques and
timid prosecution efforts. Once acquitted, many resume
their activities. Simply targeting hideouts in the tribal
belt or elsewhere is not enough to defeat militancy.
Terrorist networks must be dismantled and their masterminds
brought to justice. Only an effective legal system can do
this. Sadly, incidents such as this are reminders that
pursuing the legal battle against militancy is not among
the state’s priorities.

05, March, 2012


No reason to celebrate


BUOYED by success in the Senate elections, a confident-
looking Prime Minister Gilani appeared to dismiss on
Saturday the possibility of a premature end to his prime
ministership or indeed of the PPP-led federal government.
“Several predictions had been made in the past about the
demise of the government, but all of them turned out to be
wrong. The Senate elections have belied another
prediction,” Mr Gilani told reporters on a visit to Multan.
Of course, it was the prime minister himself who helped fan
the flames of suspicion and conspiracy by hinting darkly
about plans being afoot to oust the civilian government and
perhaps even wrap up the democratic dispensation. But let
bygones be bygones and let’s look ahead to what comes next.
As expected, Mr Gilani talked up the likelihood that his
government would present an unprecedented fifth budget in
parliament this June. This, according to Mr Gilani, would
be a great achievement. Economic reality, however, would
suggest otherwise.

As the state continues to borrow heavily, debt repayment
deadlines loom, the tax-to-GDP ratio continues to sag and
the government gears up to dole out patronage in an
election year, the budget could well end up creating
further economic trouble. In practical terms, the window of
opportunity for serious reforms — taxation, restructuring
of public-sector enterprises, etc — may have already
closed. If the government had been serious about reforms,
the time for initiating debate was late last year and by
the first quarter of the present calendar year policy
recommendations should have been fine-tuned. None of that
has taken place. So, at best, the government now has the
choice to not worsen the economic picture by opening the
patronage spigot in anticipation of a general election.
While job creation is arguably something the government
ought to pay attention to, pouring billions of rupees into
‘internship programmes’ or ‘self-employment programmes’
doesn’t quite fall into the category of responsible
management of the economy.

The PPP and its allies clearly have reason to feel pleased
they have managed to survive in power despite some very
real threats. But, as Mr Gilani’s statements on Saturday
indicated, the party tends to see survival in power as an
end to itself, with responsible policymaking a distant
consideration. It’s not just about the budget. A meaningful
power policy is still to be presented. Laws dealing with
terror suspects are yet to be overhauled. Frameworks for
local government elections are still to be finalised. The
to-do list is long and varied. Mr Gilani and his cabinet
may be tempted to celebrate their version of success but
what the country really needs is for them to knuckle down.


05, March, 2012


Enter the VHP


ORIGINALLY, the mini-Lahore set-up in Chandigarh was to
establish the ‘Pakistani feel’ for film director Kathryn
Bigelow’s interpretation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden
that led to his killing in Abbottabad last year. But the
climax is more likely to provide some in Pakistan a feel of
the India they are comfortable with. A report from
Chandigarh says the basic ingredients were there: burka-
clad women and a few Lahore number-plate rickshaws against
the backdrop of signboards in Urdu. The report also records
a claim by a right-wing Hindu leader about the presence of
Pakistani flags on the set. A Pakistani flag flying in the
streets of Chandigarh? How far is the coveted Lal Qila from
there? This was too good an opportunity for hard-liners to
not exploit. The activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad
arrived in time to thwart the establishment of another
Pakistan on Indian soil. The camera crew was abused, the
flags and Urdu signs were removed and in case anyone had
missed the point a VHP leader proclaimed: “We strongly
oppose this and we will not let them put Pakistani flags
here and we will not let them shoot here. They have made
Chandigarh like Pakistan….”

Sitting in Pakistan at a safe distance from the VHP, the
similarities between Chandigarh and Lahore are too many and
too striking to be easily overlooked. The extremists in the
two countries are like good friends helping each other
along. This is hardly a justification. This is unfortunate
and a fact. An act of extremism in one country is likely to
beget two in the other. Hoping for an end to this mutually
destructive process is difficult — even if it is not as
impossible as wishing that directors such as Ms Bigelow
were allowed to shoot on original location.


06, March, 2012


Water mismanagement


WAPDA is forever complaining of being targeted by power
thieves. But according to a report in this paper, the
authority is accused of indulging in a bit of ‘stealing’ of
its own. Some 1.5MAF of water is reported to have gone
‘missing’ from the Tarbela reservoir and the dam is
projected to touch dead level over the next couple of days.
This means it will have no water to offer for irrigation in
the months to come, which will jeopardise the country’s
summer (Rabi) crops. The missing amount is exactly what
would have otherwise been available for the summer crops
from the dam according to the calculations of the Indus
River System Authority. Irsa suspects that Wapda had
allowed the unauthorised discharge and use of the missing
water from the dam for generating electricity in recent
weeks to reduce the power supply gap. Such a diversion of
water is unacceptable because of its negative fallout on
crops and also because it may further heat up the dispute
among the provinces, especially between Sindh and Punjab,
over the distribution and shortage of water. The matter
must be investigated thoroughly and action taken to avoid a
repeat of the situation.

The government should also start working on improving the
management of the water sector, both for irrigation and
generation purposes. Pakistan is one of the most arid
countries in the world. It has been experiencing water
stress on account of its fast-growing population for
several years now, and according to a 2005 World Bank
study, will “soon face outright water scarcity”. Per-capita
water availability in the country is projected to decrease
due to a number of factors that include population growth,
climatic changes, overexploitation of water resources,
etc., and there is no additional water that can be injected
into the system. With the country’s population projected to
double to 350 million by 2050, water scarcity has the
potential of putting Pakistan’s economy and food security
at risk. It is crucial that the government start investing
soon in improving the irrigation infrastructure and in new
large and small water reservoirs so that supply can match

However, that will not be enough. Projects encouraging drip
and sprinkle irrigation and laser levelling will also have
to be implemented for efficient use of our dwindling water
resources and to increase productivity. Additionally,
people will have to be educated about the consequences of
wasteful use of water for future generations. Unless all
these steps are taken at the same time, the country will
continue to be threatened by increasing water shortages.


06, March, 2012


Muzaffargarh horror


YET another story of a Pakistani woman being disrobed and
paraded in public in retaliation for what was perceived as
a slight to someone else’s honour is a reminder about two
facts of life here. One, that women are used as pawns and
victims in disputes that have nothing to do with them. And
second, that political influence and police negligence,
often related, enable attackers to carry out these acts

of sexual abuse and violence. Tortured, robbed, stripped,
paraded and kidnapped, the woman was victimised in order to
seek revenge for the actions of her nephew, who carried out
a free-will marriage with a girl from a clan not his own.
Some action has been taken in this case; over 20 of the
dozens of attackers have been detained, the SHO of the
relevant police station has been arrested for negligence
and the woman was recovered yesterday. But the fact that
the incident took place at all indicates that sections of
Pakistani society still think they can get away with public
acts of violence in the name of honour. Part of the
problem, again not surprising, is that the girl’s family is
reportedly an influential one with a political background,
and one central figure involved in the kidnapping is
apparently a former councillor who has not even been named
in the FIR. And while the kidnapped woman has come home,
the couple’s lives remain in danger wherever in the country
they might hide despite the fact that their marriage was
sanctioned in a court of law.

The incident is a reminder that while strides have been
made in enacting legislation to protect women’s rights, it
will still take years, if not decades, for that mentality
to filter down and change actions on the ground. Pakistan
now has laws against, among other things, sexual
harassment, domestic violence, forced marriage and acid
throwing, all of which seek to establish loud and clear
that discrimination and violence against women are illegal
even if they are sometimes sanctioned by tradition and
social attitudes. But this episode makes clear that while
laws can be changed, it will take much longer to change
these attitudes.


06, March, 2012


State of dereliction

THE Sindh culture department did well to hold a national
conference at the historical Chaukandi necropolis near
Karachi recently. The aim was to highlight the receding
heritage of the engraved sandstone graves at the cemetery
that date back some 600 years and lie exposed to the
elements. Participants from the four provinces, with
representatives from the local communities present,
informed the gathering that such graveyards extended along
the Makran coast in Balochistan to the west and right up to
Kotri to the north of Karachi in Sindh. They served as
burial grounds for native Baloch and Sindhi tribes; the
more ornamented graves belonged to tribal elders and
chiefs. Archaeologists say that many of the said burial
grounds pre-date the Sultanate and the Mughal periods, and
constitute a threatened national heritage that needs to be
saved. Attention drawn to Chaukandi, which lies utterly
neglected, and has even been vandalised by treasure hunters
over the years, is long overdue.

But while projecting the state of Chaukandi is welcome, it
is action taken on the ground to conserve the historical
graves that will determine the efficacy of holding such a
conference. Over the years, the barbed enclosure has been
violated of its protected status under the law. Which
brings us to the next pertinent issue: the Federal
Antiquities Act 1975 is now but a redundant piece of
legislation after the devolution of heritage sites to the
provinces since the passage of the 18th Amendment. Sindh
would do well to adopt and, if necessary, amend the law, to
give it a renewed lease of life, as Punjab has recently
done, to keep and strengthen the mechanisms to safeguard
national heritage. In Sindh, the prehistoric Moenjodaro and
the Makli necropolis at Thatta also remain woefully
neglected and in dire need of conservation.


07, March, 2012


Fata militancy

THE removal of Maulvi Faqir Mohammad from his deputy-
commander position in the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan may
indicate a weakened organisation, but by no means a
defeated one. Faqir Mohammad was reportedly involved in
talks with the state, including on cross-border attacks
from Afghanistan when these became a recurring problem last
year. The fact that those attacks have now waned and the
theory that the TTP has demoted such a senior commander for
participating in talks reflect gains for the Pakistani
state. But it’s unclear whether he will now create problems
for the organisation or acquiesce to their demands, and the
centre of TTP power does not lie in his stronghold of
Bajaur. According to experts the development is unlikely to
become a major setback for the organisation.

The assessment reflects a broader scepticism about claims
that the back of Fata-based militancy has been broken.
While the operational capability and structure of the TTP
and other militant groups have weakened, they remain a
threat to the lives of both troops and civilians. Militants
are battling security forces in parts of Orakzai, Khyber
and Kurram agencies. In the latter two, local turf wars and
sectarian rivalries continue to create security problems in
which the state has gotten embroiled; a major attack on
Shia civilians in Parachinar last month and a fierce clash
with troops in Khyber’s Tirah Valley last week indicate
that they remain capable of carrying out significant
attacks. Even in agencies not currently seeing operations,
smaller-scale incidents such as roadside bomb attacks are
still taking place and militants retain bases off the main
roads in less accessible areas. And while the TTP has
weakened due to internal rivalries, splintering remains
less of a threat than commonly assumed. Faqir Mohammad’s
demotion and the defection last year of Fazal Saeed
represent differences with important commanders. So far,
though, the organisation has shown an ability to retain
enough cohesion to avoid falling apart completely despite
rivalries over the years. Above all, the military is still
avoiding going into North Waziristan, where militants of
all stripes are living in refuge.

It’s true that actions against the TTP and other Fata-based
militants have caused considerable damage. Military
operations in most tribal agencies have driven militants
away from their strongholds and drone attacks have helped
kill and scatter operatives. Reports show that in Pakistan
as a whole suicide bombings and other instances of
terrorism have gone down over the last two years. New
attempts at dialogue are reportedly being made, hopefully
informed by the failures of earlier attempts. But the
process is a slow one, and it is too soon to call victory
just yet.


07, March, 2012


Ex-secretary’s complaint


THAT the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan,
the top bureaucratic post in the constitutionally mandated
body that oversees elections, was an unhappy man had been
known for some time. But the extent of Ishtiak Ahmed Khan’s
frustration and anger were made clearer by his resignation
letter submitted on March 1, portions of which were
published in this newspaper yesterday. While Mr Khan did
not name the institution that he believes has been unduly
meddling in the workings of the ECP, the thrust of his
complaint leaves little doubt that he had the Supreme Court
in mind. The ECP has of course earned the displeasure of
the SC for not updating electoral rolls — also a
constitutional responsibility of the ECP — in a timely
manner. The by-elections held last month were also
initially held up by the court until the ECP updated the
voter lists for the concerned constituencies.

To the extent that Mr Khan cautions all institutions of the
state to be mindful of their limits and warns of the
consequences of overstretch and overreach, he is correct.
Much of Pakistan’s chequered political and institutional
history is the history of individuals who believed they
knew what’s best for the country and were determined to use
whatever office they occupied to try and realise their
vision — regardless of whether it was the job of that
institution to try and fix all that ails Pakistan. But what
Mr Khan didn’t say is that politics abhors a vacuum. Leave
the space open to other players and institutional meddling
is all but guaranteed. In the case of the ECP, aggrieved as
it is over the demands of the SC, it has not really
explained why electoral rolls were not updated on a yearly
basis, as required by the law. Yes, floods and rains
disrupted much of the normal administrative machinery in
parts of the country in successive years but there is a
sense that the ECP was also lax in doing its job. That,
then, perhaps is the central lesson here: do your job, or
else risk others trying to do it for you.


07, March, 2012


Damage to wetlands


SINDH’S once flourishing wetlands are under serious threat.
According to a comprehensive survey conducted this January
by the Sindh Wildlife Department and World Wide Fund for
Nature, Sindh’s 200 or so small and large wetland areas are
suffering tremendous ecological damage that will most
likely worsen with time if remedial measures are not taken
on a priority basis. The number of migratory birds visiting
various lagoons and other wetlands in Sindh has been
declining in recent years, for fairly obvious reasons. The
wildlife department and WWF point to the usual suspects, or
in this case outright culprits: pollution of waterways by
effluent discharged by industries that is making wetlands
toxic, unsustainable hunting in the winter season and human
encroachment on natural habitat, such as the conversion of
land to agricultural use. Due to a combination of all these
factors, experts say, many seasonal visitors are changing
their migratory patterns and moving on to more favourable
climes. The only exceptions appear to be Haleji in district
Thatta and Tharparkar’s Nagarparkar area, where bird
populations increased this winter.
The degradation of Sindh’s wetlands affects not only birds
but other species as well, for if birds start avoiding a
certain area it means that matters are far from right. The
local human population could also be at risk. In the
interest of preserving biodiversity, and safeguarding human
health and livelihoods, it would be informative to know how
other water-based fauna and flora are faring in these
increasingly dire conditions. Also, a summer-based survey
may shed light on the number of indigenous birds, not just
the migratory kind, that still survive. Finally, it is up
to the authorities to introduce and implement laws aimed at
tackling a huge swath of environmental issues, including
the degradation of wetlands. Action must be taken, and as
early as possible.


08, March, 2012


NLC contract


Reports that the National Logistics Cell is eyeing
contracts to transport currently stalled goods for American
troops to Afghanistan raise questions once again about
transparency in Pakistani commerce and foreign policy. Most
details about the negotiations remain unknown, including
their status, and the army has denied any involvement. But
the institution does have links with the NLC, and its
involvement in commercial activities is already a source of
much scepticism. And this is not just any commercial
activity; it is connected to the war in Afghanistan and the
Pak-US relationship, national-security and foreign-policy
issues that raise a host of possible conflicts of interest.
The plan will apparently use Pakistan’s rail network, and
if so a less worrying approach would have been to give the
contract to Pakistan Railways, with security perhaps
outsourced to the army or the Frontier Corps. That would
also have had the benefit of reviving a struggling
enterprise that provides an important public service. The
matter also raises concerns about the advantages the NLC
might enjoy as it tries to win business away from private

Given the reality of the company’s influence, however — its
board includes high-level government officials and
bureaucrats in addition to army representation — it will
not be surprising if it is able to leverage the current
suspension of American supplies to negotiate a role for
itself. Still — if handled transparently and fairly — the
scheme could have some benefits. For one, the passage of
these goods through Pakistan, especially fuel, has become a
security hazard given the attacks on them. Presumably a
higher level of security would accompany NLC transport.
Second, Railways might still benefit from the use of their
network. The NLC has offered to fund the repair of 30 PR
locomotives, of which it will reportedly use 15 for
transporting American supplies, with the cost of this to
cover freight charges owed to PR in the near term. This
could work out well for PR — provided the cost of the
repair work is fair (no public bidding process has been
held) and that the freight charges offered are in line with
what Railways would normally charge.

The questions don’t end there, though. Given the repeated
postponement of the parliamentary review on ties with the
US, sceptics will wonder if negotiations for this lucrative
contract are behind the delay. Addressing concerns about
this and the plan as a whole will require transparency
about the process and terms of any agreement, including the
benefit to PR, and, somehow, a demonstration that larger
foreign policy concerns are not being held up by commercial


08, March, 2012


Dengue threat

ACCORDING to a group of experts the dengue virus is likely
to cause greater damage in Lahore this year as compared to
last year’s outbreak, which saw thousands of people
infected and a considerable number of fatalities. Speaking
at a zoology conference in the Punjab capital on Tuesday,
one medical expert said that as per a study, one out of
every three female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus
mosquitoes — the main carriers of the virus — in Lahore was
found to be infected with dengue. Considering the havoc the
virus caused in Punjab last year, it is hoped the
uthorities have a plan ready to deal with the problem,
especially considering the fresh research. The expert also
warned against fumigation, suggesting that ovitraps,
insect-growth regulators and bio-control methods be used to
manage the mosquito population. Other specialists have also
raised concerns about the mosquitoes’ resistance to

What is also needed is a nationwide policy to deal with the
dengue threat. While Punjab has to be particularly wary as
it was at the centre of the storm in 2011, other vulnerable
regions, such as Karachi, also need to be prepared to
tackle a outbreak. The emphasis must be on prevention and
controlling the mosquito population; medical experts and
public health officials should decide the most effective
methods and promptly put these into effect. Proper funds
need to be available for both prevention and management
strategies, while the medical community needs to specify
which tests should be conducted on suspected dengue
patients; some experts suggest NS-1 and PCR tests are the
most reliable. Health facilities must also be ready to deal
with the dengue threat. The World Health Organisation
stresses “early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical
management” to control dengue, as mishandling can
complicate the situation. Civic bodies should ensure that
standing water is drained, especially after the spring and
monsoon showers. Public awareness campaigns focusing on
dengue prevention and awareness should also be launched.
Ultimately, action on the part of the federal and
provincial governments is needed now before the dengue
threat balloons into a crisis.


08, March, 2012

Curbing honour crimes


FOR once, news about two women who were declared ‘kari’ is
positive. A jirga held in the Chak area of Shirkarpur
district had decreed that they should be murdered. Had the
crime been carried out, the women would have suffered
double injustice of the most serious nature given that they
were declared ‘kari’ not because they were suspected of
extramarital relations, as is usually the case, but because
they had been kidnapped by some men of a rival tribe.
Fortunately, media reports raised the alarm. After
receiving instructions from the inspector general of the
Sindh police, the local police swung into action and
recovered the women from a house in Dur Mohammad Shar

This success should be followed up by the police making
every effort to pursue and bring to book the organisers of
the jirga that decided to play judge and jury. Locals
believe that police are delaying this task because the
organisers of the jirga have been provided shelter by
influential political elements. All such suspicions must be
put to rest in order to send out a strong signal that
crimes in the name of honour will not be tolerated. The
media, as this case illustrates, has a crucial role to play
here. If news of the intended crime gets out, the
probability increases that the law will intervene or that
the perpetrators will stay their hand. This case should
encourage reporters and news organisations to make renewed
efforts to publicise any and all instances where someone’s
rights are being threatened. Moreover, the media
constitutes an important tool for shifting the societal
mindset towards a more progressive trajectory and in
shaping a society that resists crimes of honour. Such
practices have not yet been controlled in their entirety in
Pakistan, but as this case illustrates, the battle can be
won and lives can be saved.

09, March, 2012


Workers’ rights bill


WHAT was almost unimaginable less than a year ago is fast
becoming a welcome reality. Islamabad and New Delhi have
moved at a remarkable pace since the resumption of the
commerce secretary-level talks in April last year to
normalise trade relations. With India agreeing to dismantle
all Pakistan-specific non-tariff barriers, Islamabad has
finally done away with the ‘positive’ list of items that
could be imported from across its eastern borders and
replaced it with a ‘negative’ list of items that cannot be
imported. Even the negative list will be phased out by the
end of this year. This will pave the way for full
liberalisation of trade between the two largest South Asian

The two countries are expected to meet again later this
month to sort out the modalities of trade in energy. The
unprecedented progress made by the two countries in such a
short span of time would not have been possible without the
strong political will shown by their governments. The
commitment of the Indian and Pakistani governments to move
ahead with trade normalisation despite opposition from
right-wing groups on both sides of the border must be
appreciated. The improvement in India-Pakistan trade
relations is crucial to peace and economic prosperity in
the entire South Asian region, which is at the moment the
least economically integrated and among the poorest regions
in the world.

At the same time, the role played by Pakistan’s business
community in backing the government’s efforts for trade
normalisation with India cannot be stressed enough.
Islamabad would not have been able to move so swiftly if it
did not enjoy the full support of Pakistani businessmen.
That said, some sectors of the economy are still wary of
fully normal trade ties with India. If Pakistan’s growers
are worried about the import of cheap, subsidised
vegetables and other agricultural products from across the
border, the automobile industry, pharmaceutical companies
and manufacturers of leather goods are afraid of the influx
of made-in-India goods because of the cost differential.
Although the commerce ministry has taken their concerns
into consideration and doubled the number of items put on
the negative list, they argue that the period of one year
is too short for them to prepare for competition with their
Indian rivals. It is advisable for the government to take
effective steps to protect its growers and give the
manufacturers a little longer — say, two to three years —
to allow them enough time to ready themselves for
competition. The Indians should not have any objection to
this since such protection is the norm the world over


09, March, 2012


After the withdrawal


NOT only is the military situation in Afghanistan bleak
from the point of view of the western allies, it also
translates itself into an unhelpful political scenario in
which a tired and pauperised Afghan populace wants an early
end to the war. A growing number of incidents, such as the
violence in the aftermath of the protests against the
desecration of the Holy Quran and the attack on an armoured
car in the Helmand region that killed six British soldiers,
amply demonstrate that foreign presence is increasingly
being resented in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama has
asserted that “now is the time” for the US to “transition”
out of the country.

As talks seem to be the agreed way of ending the Afghan
war, the question that has come to haunt those within the
range of fire is, what will the situation be like after
America withdraws? A major international conference is due
in Chicago in May, but there is no indication whether all
the stakeholders in Afghanistan’s future will be there,
ready with an exit formula acceptable to all — especially
the regional countries. Bringing peace to Afghanistan
involves various groups, including the government and
people of the country, the Taliban, the US and Pakistan,
with differing interests and compulsions that pull in
different directions. Yet a way must be found if there is
to be any graceful exit from the situation. The Qatar talks
may open up a path, because that is where the most crucial
of decisions will be taken. Unfortunately, both America and
the Taliban are keeping the cards close to their chests and
sidelining the other parties. This ‘bilateralisation’ of a
multilateral issue, thus, has the danger of overlooking the
pitfalls in a peace deal that may not have the approval of
all sides. Foreign forces must leave Afghanistan — they are
not wanted by the hosts — but a hasty withdrawal without a
prior accord on the Afghan political set-up could be a
recipe for disaster and throw the country back into a civil
war. Pakistan has stakes in this. It must safeguard its
interests, and this also demands an early end to the post-
Salala ‘estrangement’ that has characterised its relations
with America.


09, March, 2012


Waheeda Shah ban


ASPIRING MPA Waheeda Shah was obviously under the
impression that as a politician running for an assembly
seat, she should be able to mistreat average citizens and
get away with it. She also underestimated, or perhaps
forgot about in the heat of the moment, the power of
visuals in the electronic media. The Election Commission of
Pakistan’s decision to disqualify her from running for
office for two years serves more than one important
purpose. It addresses the particular situation at hand,
providing some justice for the helpless officials who were
assaulted by Ms Shah and then ‘forgave’ her, no doubt
pressured by intimidation, emotional blackmail or simply
cultural norms regarding power and status. More
importantly, it sends a public signal that those in
positions of power should not be able to get away with
mistreating those who are not. This message might sound
obvious but carries immense significance in a country such
as Pakistan where all sorts of power structures, based on
everything from land ownership and wealth to religion and
ethnicity, have created an unequal and unjust society. This
is particularly true when it comes to the divide between
those who hold public office and those who don’t, making
the ECP’s decision all the more important.

The incident also showed that the electronic media can in
fact play a positive role when it is being responsible and
concentrating on what is truly important. The capture of Ms
Shah’s act on tape and the resulting disciplinary action
were a refreshing change from some of the other content the
news media has recently been questioned about, including
policing the personal lives of ordinary citizens and
selling staged shows as live television. The footage of the
polling-station incident was an example of the kind of
accountability it should be concentrating on instead.


10, February, 2012


Open secret exposed


IT was the most open of secrets imaginable until this week
and yet, the extraordinary specificity with which Younus
Habib, the disgraced chief of a defunct bank, dredged up
the history of the security establishment’s gross
interference in the political process made for an
extraordinary and unprecedented spectacle. The very apex of
the army leadership and its premier intelligence agency,
the ISI, stands accused of perhaps the greatest
transgression imaginable in a constitutional democratic
order: using vast sums of money to systematically
manipulate the electoral process to usher in favourites and
keep out perceived threats. It is not just Mr Habib’s word
against others: the Supreme Court is now in possession of
corroborating claims by Gen (retd) Asad Durrani and
Naseerullah Babar. And yet, a focus on the past alone would
be an injustice.

The issue at stake is much bigger than who took what sum of
money 20-odd years ago and which generals, and their non-
uniformed counterparts, engineered a particular political
dispensation. So while lawful punishment for the
individuals involved in ‘Mehrangate’ should be pursued
vigorously, the SC should also focus on what measures can
help strengthen the present and the future of democracy in
Pakistan. For who can say with any degree of certainty that
manipulation of the democratic and electoral process is not
being attempted even today? While nothing other than
circumstantial proof has been proffered so far, the
political landscape is rife with speculation about
establishment support for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-
Insaf and the right-wing conglomeration that is the Difa-i-
Pakistan Council. Meanwhile, the primary beneficiary of the
ISI-sponsored Islami Jamhoori Ittehad in 1990, Nawaz
Sharif, has become perhaps the staunchest critic of
establishment interference in politics and has, barring an
unwise foray into the Mansoor Ijaz memo affair, been
consistently practising and preaching a politics that is
insulated from army and ISI interference. So perhaps the
greatest benefit that the SC hearings on the Asghar Khan
petition could yield would be if the spotlight on the past
were used to help clean up the present.

Two matters in particular need attention. One, the role of
money in politics. Outrageous as the sums spent by the ISI
to manipulate an election were, the fact of the matter is
that money plays a big part in any electoral victory, even
the more ‘democratic’ ones. Tighten spending and disclosure
rules and the system would get a genuine democratic boost.
Two, the spectre of ‘national interest’. That most
malleable of terms used as a cudgel with which to beat
opponents whenever convenient could do with being banished
from the realms of politics and security altogether.


10, March, 2012

Balochistan talks


A DISMISSAL of the government’s invitation to talk to
Baloch leaders was the central theme that emerged from this
paper’s conversation with Jamhoori Watan Party leader
Shahzain Bugti. From a conviction that discussions would be
pointless to suspicions that promises of amnesty for
leaders in exile would not be honoured, his views — along
with those of a serving senator — made it clear that it
will be no easy matter to get Baloch leaders to attend the
all-parties conference on the province that has been
proposed by the government. Still, one statement provided
both hope and a warning. “We are still with the federation
and want to be with it,” Mr Bugti said, a promising note
when fears of separation have been sparked by the US
Congressional hearing on Balochistan and recent statements
from some Baloch leaders. That said, he also specified that
“a third force” is growing “which is against everything”.
Whether referring to separatist elites or a growing middle-
class and student movement calling for separation from
Pakistan, he issued a warning the Pakistani state will
ignore at its own cost.

Meanwhile, the president reportedly told senators from the
province that he is “ready to apologise 10 times” to
alienated Baloch. Notwithstanding the exaggeration for
political effect of this statement, the idea, if sincere,
is an important one. But rather than communicating it to
leaders who are already part of the mainstream, Mr Zardari
needs to transmit his message to those Baloch leaders who
are resisting entering Pakistani parliamentary politics.
The Balochistan issue has received healthy publicity in
recent weeks, with the government’s call for the APC and
with politicians of almost all stripes jumping on the
bandwagon to express support for the Baloch cause. The US
Congressional hearing may not have been the right forum for
discussing the issue, but it got people talking. The key
now is to maintain that momentum to keep pushing for talks.
It is entirely possible that not much that is concrete will
come out of them. But in the current scenario even sitting
down at the same table would be a significant development,
especially if leaders in exile can be convinced to attend.


10, March 2012


Walled City Authority


THE passage of the Walled City of Lahore Bill 2011 by the
Punjab Assembly on Thursday paves the way for the
establishment of the much-needed Lahore Walled City
Authority. The regulatory body, armed with building
control, trade and conservation of heritage site by-laws,
is mandated to regulate all such matters and initiatives in
the historical district of the city which is over 500 years
old and in dire need of conservation. Studded with
historical landmarks, havelis, mosques and fabled bazaars
the Walled City, with its daytime population of half a
million, has remained a neglected area in terms of
municipal services, trade and building regulatory
mechanisms, and conservation. The result is a lack of
sanitation, made worse by encroachments, unregulated trade
activities and warehousing, drug peddling and the
decimation of historical structures — many of which should
have been declared and conserved as heritage buildings a
long time ago.

Better late than never, the Walled City Authority — aptly
set up as a representative civic management and regulatory
body comprising government functionaries, resident
stakeholders and experts — will now set about its work. The
challenges are many. These include the removal of
encroachments, the demolition of unauthorised structures,
the shifting of wholesale markets from congested
neighbourhoods, improvement of civic services and
identification and conservation of heritage buildings. Not
an easy job, but one that must commence sooner rather than
later, with the requisite will to clear out years upon
years of piled-up urban junk, and perhaps more importantly,
to reset attitudes and mindsets steeped in vested
interests. That said, a word of caution is in order on the
heritage aspect. Emphasis must be laid on conservation
rather than on rebuilding old edifices. The mindless
restoration work done at Lahore’s Shalamar Gardens, when
modern building materials were used and walls were erected
where none had existed, is a shame the Walled City must be




          C O L U M N S / A R T I C L E S N E W S


04, March, 2012


Smokers’ Corner: A PU election


By Nadeem F. Paracha

The Punjab University (PU), Lahore, has been a stronghold
of the Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT) for over 30 years now.
The IJT is the student-wing of the fundamentalist Jamat-i-
Islami (JI). It is interesting to note that whereas (by the
early 1990s) a majority of state-owned colleges and
universities were able to shrug off the electoral as well
as the ‘extra-electoral’ hegemony of the IJT, its
ubiquitous domination at PU has continued unchallenged.
But why does such a scenario need to be challenged? The
answer lies not only in the way IJT willfully retarded the
evolution of student politics at the PU (by introducing
guns and thuggery in the early 1980s), but also in the way
it has been using threats, intimidation and violence to
curb some entirely natural and positive cultural
initiatives on campus in the name of faith, morality and
patriotism. A rather long list of IJT’s deeds can be drawn
but space constraints allow me to present only a most
recent example of IJT’s continuing shenanigans at the PU.

In the wake of the bigoted ban on the products of an
‘Ahmadi-owned’ company by a far-right faction of the Lahore
Bar Council, the IJT, quite like its mother party, after
suffering from the affects of a long decaying bout of
intellectual bankruptcy, decided to adopt the ‘ban’ for the
PU. Yes, faithful IJT jocks at the PU have disallowed the
sale of the company’s juices and other food products at
university canteens. And not surprisingly, so far it has
not met with any opposition.

But were the students of the PU always so submissive in the
face of IJT’s myopic onslaughts? Largely yes, and they
still are, especially ever since 1984 when the Ziaul Haq
dictatorship banned student unions. Across the 1960s and
till about the early 1970s, campus politics and unions in
Pakistan were hotbeds of left-wing student groups, an
achievement largely attained through student union

Interestingly, from 1974 onwards, it was the same electoral
process that also turned the IJT into a force, especially
in Karachi and Punjab.

Cashing in on the ideological bickering and splits
witnessed within the left-wing student outfits at the time,
IJT coupled this opportunity by doing some excellent
administrative work associated with student governments,
and consequently began to win union elections on a regular

However, it soon lost the plot when after Ziaul Haq’s
military coup in 1977 it became a willing tool of the
reactionary dictatorship, helping it (through violence) to
wipe out anti-Zia and progressive student groups from
campuses. It finally paid the price when during the last
widespread student union elections in the country in 1983,
IJT faced devastating defeats at the hands of progressive
student alliances. Not surprisingly, the very next year,
the Zia regime banned the student unions. That was also the
year when IJT faced its toughest (and last) major challenge
at the PU.

It had been sweeping student union elections at the PU
since 1971 and ever since the Zia coup it had also become
an organisation to fear. The fear factor also worked in
discouraging anti-IJT students to stand in an election
against particular IJT heavyweights, especially Hafiz
Salman Butt, who was always expected to win uncontested.

Butt who today is a prominent member of the JI, was IJT’s
main man at the PU and was winning student union elections
without even bothering to campaign. He was also known to be
a trigger-happy hothead. Encouraged by the large gains made
by leftist student groups in the 1983 student union
elections across Karachi, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the
progressive student alliance at the PU decided to put up
candidates for all posts of the student union. The alliance
was mainly made up of the radical Marxist outfit, the Black
Eagles, the PPP’s student-wing, the PSF, factions of the
left-wing NSF and the student unit of Asghar Khan’s
Tehreek-i-Istaqlal, the Istaqlal Students Federation.

Iqbal Haider Butt’s excellent book, Revisiting Student
Politics (2007) presents a vibrant telling of what happened
next. There were 27 candidates for the top post of General
Secretary of the union, but the moment IJT’s Hafiz Salman
Butt announced his candidature for the post, all other
candidates withdrew from the race.

All but one: Illyas N. Shahzad, a young man from
Gujranwallah who’d come down to PU for further studies. He
was an unassuming member of the PSF. Illyas was first given
‘friendly advise’ to leave the field, but when he refused,
he was threatened by IJT goons and then even abandoned by
some of his own friends!

In an amusing account of the threats he was facing, Illyas
is quoted (in Haider’s book) as saying that even women
students belonging to IJT taunted him and showed mock
sadness about what Hafiz was about to do to him. Unable to
openly campaign (and in hiding), much of Illyas’s
campaigning was done by some women belonging to Black
Eagles and a few students of the National College of Arts
(NCA), who used to visit the PU during election time.

llyas who today runs a textile mill says he still gets
tense and anxious about those days. He was expected to
eventually back down and if not, then certainly lose
heavily to the IJT heavyweight. But lo and behold, PU
students might have begun to stay clear of him, they
decided to vote against IJT’s strong-armed tactics and
handed a convincing victory to Illyas. This was also the
first time ever since 1971 that an IJT member had lost an
important election at the PU.

But IJT’s electoral demise did not last long. It bounced
back when student unions were disbanded by Zia and IJT re-
established its muscular domination on campus. A domination
that remains unchallenged for over 30 years now.


04, March, 2012


The unexpected calm


By Cyril Almeida

D-DAY has come and gone and they’re still with us. The
assemblies, that is.

Remember, they weren’t supposed to be here with us at this
point? Senate elections loomed, the PPP was full of doom,
rivals were licking their lips, uniforms had itchy trigger
fingers, judges had gavels waiting to coming crashing down
— and then, calmness.

Not even a slap to shock the country and dominate coverage
on election day. Some shenanigans in Balochistan were
reported but if the folks in that assembly are going to be
above bribery, we’d beon the verge of world peace breaking
So now what? Now nothing. The budget is the next milestone
but the budget has lost much of its importance in recent
years. When your idea of economic management is survival
one quarter of the time, 12 months isn’t really a
policymaking time frame that you hold much hope for.

And then, many think, will be the general election in the
late autumnal window, Oct/Nov. But as crises fade and
threats recede, the smarter money is on a general election
next year.

The PPP could pull a surprise and spring for local
elections in Sindh and the other two provinces in which
it’s a coalition partner later this year. Punjab could then
be forced to follow.

So, for now, we’re just left to ponder the imponderables.
Question No. 1: is Zardari a mad genius of sorts?

Because he and his government have managed to survive an
extra few weeks, the country has been treated to some stuff
that was fairly unfathomable just weeks ago.

The Supreme Court, tormentor-in-chief of the government,
has turned its guns on the army it was supposed to be in
cahoots with. The tongue-lashing the hapless lawyer of the
ISI/MI got in court over missing persons was as bad as the
one Babar Awan & co have suffered.

And with the Asghar Khan case — destined to go nowhere, but
still — the other great ally of the court, Nawaz Sharif,
has seen embarrassing old allegations trotted out. Hardly
the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours kind of deal for
someone who essentially got the good CJ restored.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, he of the ‘state within a
state’ allegations, has been seen sitting down with the
generals who tried to decapitate his government and has
been talking policy stuff. It’s not quite cavorting in the
sand with beach balls but it’s a heck of a lot better than
trying to scratch each other’s eyes out.

And Sharif, who jumped the gun and ran to the Supreme Court
on memogate, has recovered some of his poise and returned
to his role as uber-democrat, chastising the generals and
dealing with the PPP with equanimity.
So how much of this delicious semi-turnaround is because of
the mad genius, aka the accidental president, buying time
for it to become possible?

Not all of it, clearly. The generals baring their teeth
were unexpectedly stared down by Gilani. And the court
preparing to strike was goaded on, rather than cowed, by
Zardari’s defiance: a crisis precipitated by presidential
stubbornness rather than defused by presidential nous.

But here we are, in March 2012, the rickety ship that is
the PPP government sailing through unexpectedly calm
political waters in large part because Zardari has proved
more adept than any of his peers at the political
compromise. The ability to assess what he has to lose in
any given situation and being willing to take the hit if
necessary, it’s a new kind of politics.

We saw it again in the negotiations on the 20th Amendment.
The PPP and its allies had a two-thirds majority in the
National Assembly but they knew it would be tough to get
everyone to vote. MNAs, straitjacketed by the constitution
on constitutional votes, know how to extract their pound of
flesh by disappearing at inopportune moments.

Getting 226 coalition members into the House on the day of
the vote would have required an almighty effort by the
party whips and then some. So the PPP turned to the PML-N,
which demanded its own pound of flesh, i.e. concessions on
the interim set-up before the next election and on the
composition of the Election Commission.

Here is where Zardari proved yet again the difference
between him and other leaders, including BB. Zardari needed
the amendment passed; a consensus amendment would have
shown a unified parliament, an important signal in the wake
of memogate and as the Swiss-letter crisis swirled; and
passage would have kept the early elections demands at bay.

So Zardari took a look at what advantages dictating the
composition of the interim set-up and limiting the terms of
Election Commission members offered him and decided, not
much really. And so he decided to bite at the PML-N’s

That’s the Zardari difference. BB would have been loath to
give up something when she didn’t have to. A story has it
that when she came to power the first time, it was
suggested to her that PTV be put in professional hands and
not made a PPP propaganda arm. BB was dismissive of the
idea: PTV had been used against her and her party for the
last decade and now it was her turn to use it against her

And through much of the 1990s, while BB and Nawaz knew that
the Eighth Amendment undermined political stability, their
zero-sum mindset drew them to the advantages it offered
when in opposition. It took until one of them got a two-
thirds majority of their own for the ability of presidents
to dismiss parliaments to be done away with.

With Zardari, his willingness to make a deal and compromise
where others wouldn’t has kept him and his government
afloat longer than any of his peers.

But if it seems preposterous that the one politician in
Pakistan who would rise to embrace enlightened self-
interest is Asif Zardari, there is an even more surprising
corollary: much of Zardari’s deal-making wouldn’t have been
possible had Nawaz Sharif not matured as a politician.

A decade ago, the PML-N’s ‘Go Zardari go’ campaign would
never have been followed up by parliamentary cooperation on
a constitutional amendment. Instead, there would have been
an insurrection in Punjab and street protests by
now.Zardari and Sharif, paragons of a new political order
where enlightened self-interest helps buttress the
democratic process?

Now that’s a script no one would have ever thought

The writer is a member of staff.



05, March, 2012

Do we know what we’re doing?


By Hajrah Mumtaz

WAS it a raid on the movement of unsuspecting young couples
or a scripted affair involving paid actors? More hinges on
that question than, perhaps, the show’s host and the
channel on which the episode aired realise.

First, a recap.

Towards the end of January, a private national television
network aired an episode of a morning show: flanked by some
upper-class ladies, the host swooped down on couples
strolling in a park and asked them questions such as ‘do
your parents know where you are?’ or ‘how are you related
to each other?’ Some couples tried to run away, or turn
their faces, or simply wished the ground would swallow them

Others tried to speak up for their rights but were silenced
by the barrage of accusations parading as questions,
targeted for the ‘crime’ of strolling in a park — not
breaking any sort of law, just strolling.

The footage earned itself all sorts of criticism, beginning
with the rights of adults to stroll where they want,
passing through their constitutional right to privacy, and
going on to the inappropriateness of the media acting as a
morality brigade and the dangers inherent in the idea of
‘vigil-aunties’ (not coined by me).

The host issued a somewhat weak apology, the channel issued
an apology and terminated the employment of the lady in
question, and the fast-changing media landscape of Pakistan
moved on.

But we wouldn’t be Pakistanis if we didn’t have a penchant
for making the bad worse. At the end of February, the lady
appeared on a talk show and explained that in fact the
‘dating couples’ in the park had been paid actors.
Moreover, she said, many in Pakistan’s television industry
were in the practice of using actors to ‘recreate’
situations and scenes.
We have no way of knowing which version is true until some
of the alleged actors come forward to verify the anchor’s
claim. But if her more recent admission is true, then that
brings up equally serious issues of rights and

One assumes that the lady believed that this revelation
would shield her from criticism. But in terms of ethics and
the credibility of the media, this admission just makes
matters worse. It amounts to a confession that the anchor
and whoever knew of the scripted nature of the scenes, such
as the editors and possibly the channel management, was
involved in hoaxing the audience. And if this practice is
thought of as a legitimate television ‘format’ in Pakistan,
that casts serious doubts about whether the television
industry knows what it is doing.

Scripted scenes that look live or real are far from unknown
in television industries anywhere in the world. One way in
which this format is used is that of ‘dramatic’ or
‘historical re-enactments’. This involves actors being shot
in scenes meant to recreate a portion of history, a crime,
a real-life event, or whatever. Documentaries are full of
re-enactments. So are crime shows and those about social
issues or many others.

The difference is, such scenes always say very clearly that
they are a re-enactment, not the real thing. Watching a
recreation of Julius Caesar’s conquests, the viewer is made
aware of the fact that he is watching a dramatised re-
enactment; there didn’t just happen to be a camera present
at the scene. That a scene showing a man beating his wife
in a show meant to highlight domestic violence was not shot
with a hidden camera, the programme is at pains to tell
you. Most producers run not just a strip on the screen
saying that this is a re-enactment, but often also repeat
this fact before or after the scene is broadcast.

Another format that blurs the boundary between fact and
fiction, with elements from both, is ‘reality TV’. However,
this, too, is significantly different from scripted scenes
masquerading as reality.

‘Reality TV’, whether The Apprentice, Big Brother or
Survivor, features ordinary people — non-actors working
without scripts. What you see is real, arguments, emotions
and rivalries. But this format has set ‘rules of the game’
within which the non-actors operate.

The parameters of the programme are clear, the audience
knows that the deal is and most importantly, the featured
contestants are, aware of the fact that they are being
filmed and thus, in a way, play to the camera. That scene
of venom-spitting anger contains real emotion, but the
person displaying it is aware of where he is and what he’s
doing — as does the audience. In no way can it be likened
to real people being secretly filmed, or scripted scenes
pretending to be real.

A third relevant variation is what is often used in crime
shows in particular. The suspect, face digitally obscured,
runs; the law (and the camera, one assumes), chases.

In fact, except in rare cases where the law is actually
being accompanied by a filming crew, this is not the case.
Sometimes CCTV footage is used, and it is clearly stated
that this is the case with all the relevant disclaimers.
More often, it is a dramatised re-enactment and this too is
made clear.

Why is it important for a programme to make its credentials
etc. clear to the audience? Because credibility is at
stake. If scripted scenes are used to stand in for real
footage, then consider this scenario: the news channels are
broadcasting footage of a man accusing hospital staff of
having let his child die through negligence. How can the
audience be sure it’s real? A group of criminals have
apparently been caught in the act of cleaning out a house.
Is that a scoop, or is it cheating?

I have a number of friends in the news and entertainment
television industry and they tell me that the ‘format’
exposed by the Karachi park episode is in fact not so rare
after all. There have been cases where actors are signed up
to play the part of outraged anchors or journalists
exposing wrongdoings and social issues. I personally know a
professional actor engaged in a large news channel in this

Does our industry know what it is doing and the
implications? It’s time to make the rules clear and stop
cheating the audience.
The writer is a member of staff.



07, March, 2012


A Pakistani modernity


By Rafia Zakaria

IT was supposed to be easy; it had been spelled out in
lengthy treatises and frequent speeches in the heady,
feverish years leading up to 1947.

Pakistan was to be a modern Muslim state, a country where
democratic and Islamic values gelled to produce a polity
that felt no discomfort with either its religious identity
or its democratic one.

The generation that awaited it with hushed anticipation saw
no confusion in the recipe; their leaders were the likes of
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Maulvi Chiragh Ali, Nazir Ahmed —
brave men with a clear vision for South Asian Muslims.

They had fought the decrepit ignorance that kept Muslims
submerged in old ways in the name of tradition; they
believed in the necessity of making inroads with modern
education and scientific knowledge. The modern state they
pined for in those early and middling decades of the 19th
century did not yet exist, but they could see it, imagine
it with great accuracy as the repository of free minds that
would engage the novel, promote the revolutionary.

In the balmy August of 1947 the probable became a reality
and Pakistan was created. With its birth the hybrid of a
modern religious identity and robust respect for pluralism
had to be put in motion.
As many of that dwindling generation would remember, those
were euphoric times when even the massive tragedies of
trains full of bodies and bloodied neighbourhoods could not
extinguish the hopefulness of those embracing a new nation.
Where first there had been only an idea, there was now a
country on the map. With the founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah,
the men and women who had devoted their lives to a vision
set about making it real.

Much has been said about the post-Partition years and the
idea of Pakistan that guided them. Critical historians have
pointed out the structural challenges faced by the nascent
nation, the dithering bits of administrative incapacity and
the disconnected ends of British bureaucracy that were
handed to Pakistan.

Others have pointed to the catastrophes — a dying Jinnah
leaving a newborn nation without a leader and menacing
neighbours at the borders always willing to pounce at the
tiniest chinks in the country’s newly grown armour.

The new Pakistan was indeed vulnerable, both in terms of
resources and leadership. There was, however, another,
less-noticed affliction waiting in the shadows.

The idea of Pakistan as coined by the reformist Muslims who
fought for Pakistan and took on the task of organising
South Asian Muslims were informed by a distinctly South
Asian idea of modernity. Their consciousness of being
Muslim relied on their experience of being a minority ruled
by a foreign power.

While they realised that they would be a majority in the
new nation, this was an abstract idea, not an experienced
one. Their own lives were lived in a state where a
democracy unmediated by the law would leave them
outnumbered and vanquished.

The South Asian recipe for developing a hybrid of Muslim
identity and democratic governance relied on the use of the
law as safeguarding the interests of those who could never
win at the ballot box; having been the ‘little guy’ for
long, they now sought protection for the underdog. For
them, Islam was part of a political identity, deserving
requisite space in the political sphere, but never a means
of exclusion.
The assault on this Pakistani identity stemmed not only
from the mediocre realities of governance against the
passion of revolution. It came also from two distantly
related realities of the new Pakistan.

The first was demographic; while the Muslims who migrated
to Pakistan brought with them the memory of having been a
minority, many of those that welcomed them remembered only
the brute injustice of being a Muslim majority ruled by an
imperial power.

If the newcomers, remembering the slights they had felt in
a united India where they had been outnumbered, wanted to
take care to create a tolerant Pakistan, those awaiting
them, finally freed from the yoke of imperial rule, wished
now for their chance at making the rules and being the

A second assault came from the location of the new Pakistan
and in upcoming decades its emergence as a labour-exporting
nation. If the ideologues of Pakistan had looked around and
within themselves and had been intellectually rooted in
South Asia, the men leading Pakistan in the first 50 or so
years of its creation looked to the Middle East.

As memories of Partition waned, being Pakistani began to
mean being a lesser Muslim — the plural religious landscape
of South Asia becoming a taint on purity. The Zia years
made this burgeoning crisis of authenticity visible and
reimagined the Pakistani identity as one whose central
tragedy was not being Arab.

The wounds deepened as economic pressures in the 1980s and
1990s sent hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis to Saudi
Arabia and the Gulf states. They returned with stereos,
VCRs and a robust hatred for themselves; in their migrant
logic being Muslim and being Arab became intertwined.

Working on construction sites and as cab drivers in Dammam
and Riyadh, they learned from their Arab bosses’ oil-
fuelled exchanges with modernity that skyscrapers and
Ferraris were permissible but women’s rights and democratic
governance were not.     The current crisis of identity of
Pakistanis today, a long 65 years after the triumph of
Independence, is a product of this historical trajectory
which discarded indigenous South Asian ideas of modernity
developed during the Independence movement for a hodge-
podge of inferiorities brought home by would-be scholars
and expatriate workers yearning to be Arab.

If the first ideas of being Pakistani had been erected on a
moment of achievement and a defeat of British imperialism,
this second is submerged in inadequacy, and servility and
in self-hatred in which being Pakistani means being always
less and always wanting.

writer is an attorney teaching political philosophy and
constitutional law.



07, March, 2012


Tears of a Russian clown


By Mahir Ali

MOSCOW, according to the title of an Academy Award-winning
Soviet film from 1980, does not believe in tears.

Now, there may indeed have been cause for tears in Moscow
on Sunday night as election results confirmed the
inevitable: a six-year presidential term for Vladimir
Vladimirovich Putin, who by the end of it will have matched
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev’s longevity at the helm.

It’s nonetheless hard to understand why Putin wept as he
declared: “I promised you we would win. We have won. Glory
to Russia.”

After all, the result of the presidential poll wasn’t
exactly unexpected.

Although there has been a surge in popular opposition to
Putin since last year’s confirmation that, following a
four-year interregnum during which he has presided over
Russia’s fortunes as prime minister, he would be aiming
once more for the prime post of head of state, nobody
seriously expected him to lose the contest, or even to fare
poorly enough to necessitate a second round.

The presidency was his for the taking, and he wasn’t
exactly reticent in demanding it back from Dmitry Medvedev,
whose role as seat-warmer was fairly obvious from the
outset of his presidential term.

Medvedev has on occasion demonstrated streaks of
independence, but they may well have been part of a well-
rehearsed good-cop, bad-cop routine. If not, the incumbent
head of state could find himself unable to reclaim his
previous post as prime minister when his successor and
predecessor begins his third presidential term in May.Putin
was no doubt alarmed when his nominal party United Russia’s
proportion of the vote fell below 50 per cent in last
December’s parliamentary elections, despite the ballot-
stuffing shenanigans that usually attend such events,
including so-called carousel voting, whereby the same bunch
of voters is ferried from one polling booth to another.

United Russia’s relatively poor showing was partly a
consequence of the opposition’s endeavours, but it was
easier to persuade voters to pick another party — any party
— than to choose a different presidential candidate.

This is not unrelated to Putin’s inexorable propaganda
advantage, and it can only be assumed that his regular
efforts to portray himself as a kind of superman — bare-
chested astride a horse, at the helm of a submarine or a
fighter jet, in ski gear or sea-diving attire — have the
desired effect on rural multitudes accustomed since the
days of the tsars to godheads in the Kremlin.

At the same time, there can be little doubt that Putin’s
apparent popularity depends to a considerable extent on the
unimpressiveness of his opponents, a number of whom have
been perennial presidential candidates in the post-Soviet

The Communist Party, for instance, appears to have given
little thought to replacing the singularly uncharismatic
Gennady Zyuganov, who, not for the first time, came a
distant second this week. The even more absurd right-wing
nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky also continues to turn up
on ballot papers.

Neither of them, and none of the even less well-known
candidates, could even half-seriously have been expected to
capture the popular imagination, let alone posit themselves
as a credible alternative to Putin.

More broadly, a comparable malaise afflicts the opposition
that has lately made its presence felt on the streets of
Moscow and St Petersburg. It may be united in demanding
that Putin must go, but has broadly failed to articulate
what ought to replace him. Greater democracy? Sure, that’s
a worthy endeavour — but what exactly would it entail?

Putin initially gained a measure of prominence in the 1990s
as St Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak’s deputy who signed
off on export permits that vastly enriched the
beneficiaries but hardly profited Russia. In Moscow, he
engaged oligarchs by offering them protection (largely from
each other) provided they tailored their politics to his

At the helm, he initially gave the   impression of reversing
the trend whereby state assets had   been sold to individual
entrepreneurs at throwaway prices,   suggesting he favoured
re-nationalisation. But that was a   short-lived phase.
Privatisation reared its head once   more. However, oligarchs
who in any way deviated from their   political allegiance
could expect the worst.

Those who did not escape Russia in time found themselves
behind bars. They are arguably better off than dissidents
in other spheres who were rewarded with a lethal dose of
poison or a bullet in the head — as in the case of the
journalist Anna Politkovsksaya, who knew too much about
what had been going on in Chechnya.

A more democratic and less repressive Russia would indeed
be welcome. Putinism isn’t exactly totalitarianism, but
that has more to do with post-Soviet verities than with
Putin’s intentions. There was greater political diversity
under the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev — who, after
initially supporting Putin as an alternative to the erratic
Yeltsin phase, last year called upon him to bow out.
That’s largely because the Gorbachev era was all about
change, whereas the age of Putin has largely been about
continuity. Nobody, apart from the rampant crony
capitalists, is particularly keen on pressing on with crony
capitalism. It has been suggested that, in the face of
opposition, Putin might readjust his priorities.

It has also been said that, given his role in accumulating
billions of roubles while his cronies have done the same,
Putin can ill afford to let go of the reins of power, as
even an ostensibly non-hostile successor would feel obliged
to imprison him for his excesses.

Putin has just been re-endorsed for six years. If nothing
much changes during that period, he could stretch it to an
even dozen — which would take him past the Brezhnev level,
but without quite equalling Josef Stalin’s disastrous 31
years at the helm.

For whatever it’s worth, the Russian opposition must focus
on a social-democratic alternative to the incumbent. A
focus on attainable redistributive justice may indeed turn
the tide in time for the Bolshevik Revolution centenary in



08, March, 2012


Has Rahul learnt his lesson?


By Jawed Naqvi

RAHUL Gandhi said after this week’s electoral rout of the
Congress party in Uttar Pradesh that he has learnt a good
lesson from the stinging defeat in India’s most populous
Has he learnt something, really?

Many factors influence defeat and victory in Indian
elections. But let me start by dialectically connecting the
humbling of Rahul Gandhi to an early morning panic call I
got from Pakistan’s soft-spoken intellectual-activist Dr
Mubashir Hasan during the Vajpayee administration.

“Babu,” he yelled uncharacteristically on the otherwise
clear phone line from Lahore, shouting the name he often
gives to his male listeners. “This would be an act of war.
What are you reporting, for God’s sake?”

I had quoted India’s former envoy in Islamabad, S.K. Singh,
in Dawn that morning as suggesting publicly that New Delhi
should shut down the water flow of rivers crossing into

The strategic thinker in the Vajpayee administration was
adding his ideas to a pile of hawkish proposals on the
table about how to deal with Islamabad after the botched
attack on the parliament house, which Islamabad condemned.

The late S.K. Singh became one of the many intellectuals
who got to advise the Gandhi family on foreign policy and
domestic issues. A level-headed Mani Shankar Aiyar seems a
misfit in Rahul Gandhi’s Congress.

Cut to the 2007 election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, which
the current outgoing Dalit chief minister Mayawati had won.
Rahul Gandhi was sighted one day near Moradabad in that
campaign. Suddenly, apropos of nothing, out of the blue, he
confided to the audience that his grandmother had cut
Pakistan into two.

Had Rahul Gandhi managed to get a single extra vote for
making the utterance that better suits his rivals in the
Bharatiya Janata Party, he could be forgiven. Coming from
him, though, it sounded like an exuberant expression of
inexperience laced with inputs from a right-wing hawk.

In any case Rahul Gandhi was telling only half the story.
He didn’t say, for example, that Indira Gandhi became a
very unpopular leader within months of her pyrrhic victory
and it eventually led to her imposing emergency rule in
1975. An unprecedented electoral rout came soon after.

In 1977, she was evicted from Rae Bareli while younger son
Sanjay Gandhi was decimated in neighbouring Amethi. That
this week’s election results in Uttar Pradesh heaped
similar humiliation on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who
has made Rae

Bareli her parliamentary constituency, and on Rahul Gandhi
in Amethi, should be a lesson he would do well not to
ignore. Bad temper, whether at home or with a neighbouring
country, alienates the voter and the neighbours.

For a fraction of the mistakes made by her mother-in-law,
Sonia Gandhi lost all five assembly segments in Rae Bareli.
Her son managed to secure barely two of five assembly seats
for his handpicked Congress candidates in Amethi despite
the trumpeted presence of the entire Gandhi family in the
campaign, including his sister Priyanka Vadra.

What were the mistakes that the mother-son duo may have
made to suffer the ignominy of not just a defeat in Uttar
Pradesh but in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa, where the
Congress could have won and was in fact expected to take
power but failed?

The Congress’ only gain this week came in the volatile
north-eastern state of Manipur. Kashmiris wrongly think
that they are being singled out for rough treatment; ask
the Manipuris.

I remember Rahul Gandhi making headlines with his visit to
a policeman’s family in Chhatisgarh who had been brutally
murdered by Maoist guerrillas. It was a widely appreciated
humanitarian gesture. The poor policeman was a victim of
crossfire between the coercive arm of the state and
rebellious tribal citizens of India whose home and hearth
the state and its financiers covet.

The gesture to the policeman’s family, no matter how noble,
would never translate into votes. Rahul Gandhi has not
spoken clearly, if at all he has said anything, on the
actual strife that laid low the policeman, the object of
his public grief. The fact is that we haven’t heard
anything worthwhile from Rahul Gandhi on any topic of
importance to the masses.
If anything there is a forked-tongue approach in important
issues his party canvasses. Socially, the Congress claims
proximity to Muslims and Dalits. In practice it has not
spelt out a policy to deal with the communal politics
stifling Gujarat. I am not even sure that Rahul Gandhi has
visited a single Muslim ghetto in the state.

After Dr Manmohan Singh became prime minister in 2005 Rahul
Gandhi declared that the BJP was a joke. It had always
harmed and insulted his family, including his grandmother,
he told reporters. Insulting his family? A joke? Did he
have any idea of the mayhem this “joke” had inflicted on
India in 1992 in Ayodhya and in Gujarat in 2002? On
Christian missionaries, Dalits and tribespeople

Towards the Dalits his approach has been a poor imitation
of Gandhiji’s disastrous policy with erstwhile
‘untouchables’. We know only too well that Dr B.R.
Ambedkar, who Dalits regard as their biggest leader, had
little time for Gandhiji’s notion of

Harijans. Dalits see it is a condescending and insulting
term, which literally means ‘children of God’. If they were
the children of God, who were the parents of the upper

Sleeping in Dalit homes and eating food cooked by them was
a bad political a gimmick for Rahul Gandhi. Dalits want
honour, justice and jobs. Mayawati gave them honour and
according to the poll outcome she was routed in the number
of seats but trailed behind the winner only by about a two
per cent deficit.

Someone gave Rahul Gandhi a piece of paper to tear up
angrily at a public. Nehru and Indira Gandhi used to get
away with such tantrums. In fact, their quirks were
indulged by the masses. Times have changed. Rahul Gandhi
kept mocking the Dalit party’s mascot, the elephant, as a
symbol of corruption as if the Congress and the BJP were
unblemished by corruption.

Rahul Gandhi didn’t address the real elephant in the room —
his party’s palpable political bankruptcy. Is that too
difficult a lesson to learn?
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in New Delhi.


10, March, 2012


Welcome to 1984


By Irfan Husain

OVER the years, despite repeated bouts of military
dictatorship, Pakistan has remained a relatively open
society. Even with spooks running around unchecked, people
have expressed themselves pretty openly, both privately and

In large measure, this has been due to the incompetence of
our bureaucracy. Few cops and spies are very enthusiastic
about surveillance duties. More often than not, they file
their poorly written reports that go unread, and pile up in
some dusty government archives, never to see the light of

But all this is about to change. According to an
international tender floated by this government, it is
aiming to acquire technology that will enable it not just
to block websites at will, but to read our emails and
monitor all Internet traffic.

As we know, computers don’t get tired, or wander off for a
cup of tea. George Orwell wrote about a technological
dystopia in his futuristic novel 1984 where citizens were
constantly watched. Pakistan seems about to leapfrog into
the world of Big Brother while still at a pre-industrial

This ham-handed attempt at censoring and controlling the
Internet has drawn derision from all those concerned about
the free flow of information. While this initiative
professes to protect us from pornographic and blasphemous
content, the reality is that it seeks to surreptitiously
invade our privacy.

Over the last 15 years or so, we have become increasingly
dependent on the Internet for communications, information
and entertainment. Twitter and Facebook are used by
millions of young Pakistanis to keep in touch with family
and friends, and have opened up a whole new world. This
world is about to change as petty officials can cut users
off, or read private messages, at will.

Ironically, this crude attempt to control and censor the
Internet is being financed by the Information and
Communications Technology (ICT) Fund. This fund is fed by a
percentage taken from the revenues of telecom firms, and
was intended to finance scholarships in information
technology, as well as research and development. It was
never meant to pay foreign companies to help the government
in censoring the content on our screens.

A year or so ago, there was a gauche attempt to curb emails
and text messages that ridiculed the government and its
leaders. Articles denouncing the initiative appeared around
the world. Hopefully, this effort will meet the same fate.
And if Sana Saleem’s campaign succeeds, it well might. This
brave young blogger, and founder of ‘Bolo Bhi’ [Speak Up],
has been tireless in her attempt to block the government’s
crude censorship policy. [Readers can follow her campaign
at www.bolobhi.org.]

She has been widely quoted in the international media, and
has approached Western firms manufacturing equipment
suitable for the government’s requirements to boycott the
$50m tender. Many of them have agreed not to bid. Reporters
Without Borders, the Paris-based organisation, has written
to the prime minister, urging him to withdraw this

The argument that by blocking access to many websites, the
government will shield us from ‘indecent’ content, does not
hold up to scrutiny. The reality is that there are millions
of sites out there. Short of completely cutting Pakistan
off from the wired world, it is not possible to insulate us
from the free-wheeling anarchy of the Internet.

Those who created the system that now connects hundreds of
millions across the globe always intended it to be a free
and open space. This freedom gives it the energy that has
placed it at the centre of communications and instant
information. If the government blocks one site, a dozen or
more pop up. And those who know how can easily get around
crude artificial barriers erected by insecure states.

This government’s model is the Great Firewall of China that
routinely blocks thousands of websites the government deems
unsuitable, or will damage the Communist Party’s
reputation. But China is a dictatorship, while we claim to
be a democracy. In a free society, citizens have the right
to privacy as well as access to uncensored information.

True, these rights are not absolute, and in certain
security-related cases the state has the authority to place
individuals under electronic surveillance. But this
intrusion is seldom unchecked and in democracies it
normally requires judicial approval. For an elected
Pakistani government to acquire these totalitarian tools is

However, this latest attempt at controlling information is
in line with what we have seen recently. When the BBC aired
‘Secret Pakistan’, a two-part documentary that purported to
establish the close links between the ISI and the Taliban,
the country’s cable service providers blocked the British
channel. Thus, many Pakistanis no longer have access to
this widely respected news service. To imagine that
Pakistan’s cable operators were so outraged by the
documentary that they independently decided to cut off the
BBC is to miss what our intelligence agencies have been up
to for years. And there are no prizes for guessing which
agency is behind the BBC ban.

Then there was the court-directed blocking of Facebook that
cut millions of Pakistanis off from their favourite social
networking site. Protests in the media led to its
withdrawal. Gen Musharraf, too, attempted to gag the media,
but even shooting the messenger could not save him at the

Insecure leaders and governments are the ones that try the
hardest to censor news and keep an eye on their citizens.
On the pretext of safeguarding public morality, they seek
to control the free flow of information.
Despite our loud and raucous claims to piety, a survey
found that the highest number of hits at pornographic
websites originated from Pakistan. Erecting a firewall is
unlikely to change this reality in a society where
hypocrisy is a way of life.

It is true that many websites carry objectionable material.
While researching my book, I trawled through a large number
of jihadi websites that were shocking in their calls to
violence. And yet I would not advocate that they be blocked
or taken down. After all, nobody forced me to access them.

And ultimately, this is what free choice is about: the
ability to decide what to read or watch is central to any
democracy. As long as I am not hurting anybody, I should be
at liberty to log on to any site I wish to without some
petty official deciding it isn’t good for me. So would the
government please save this $50 million, and spend it on
something more worthwhile?

The writer is the author of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan,
Islam and the West.




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